3 Braves players who should be considered for an extension and one who should not

Which players should the Braves be looking to extend?

Atlanta Braves v Baltimore Orioles
Atlanta Braves v Baltimore Orioles / G Fiume/GettyImages
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The Atlanta Braves have done an amazing job locking up their talent early. With Matt Olson, Austin Riley, Michael Harris II, Sean Murphy, Spencer Strider, and Ronald Acuña Jr. all locked up for the foreseeable future. The Braves are an outlier in how they have handled contracts and locked up their key pieces.

So far this strategy has paid off for Atlanta, however, this doesn't mean every key piece is locked in. Atlanta has three players, in particular, who stand out as extension candidates. Starting with the most obvious pending offseason decision.

Max Fried - free agent in 2025

Atlanta Braves fans have already had to endure watching Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson leave the franchise. Two players who were vital to the 2021 World Series run cashed in and moved on from Atlanta. The Braves responded by finding cheaper production in Orlando Arcia and Matt Olson. Both players have been good additions, but failed to fill the void of what Atlanta lost.

If the Braves let Max Fried walk, it will be a far bigger mistake. Offensive production is easier to find ways to replicate. Finding an ace who is proven in the postseason is far more difficult. There are far fewer options on the market and those who do make it to free agency or the trade market will cost you dearly.

When Fried is healthy there simply isn't anyone you rather put on the mound in a must-win game. At this point in the season, it is a foregone conclusion that Fried is going to hit free agency. Foreseeing a West Coast kid returning home to cash in shouldn't be surprising, but perhaps expected.

Both New York teams are likely to target Fried as well if the star pitcher makes it to free agency. The Braves should not allow this to happen, you simply cannot continue to lose key pieces and expect to be able to keep finding surprise cheaper production.

Yes, Chris Sale and Charlie Morton have been pleasant surprises this season, but both are aging and cannot be relied on to produce at this same level in 2025. Max Fried is entering his prime and should be paid as such with the Braves doing what it takes to keep him in Atlanta.

Strider's injury adds to this sense of urgency with his 2025 season completely in question. The Braves need a sense of stability atop their rotation and Fried offers just that. Stability that Atlanta should be willing to pay what it takes to keep in Atlanta.

A.J. Minter - free agent in 2025

The Braves bullpen has consistently been torn down and rebuilt under the current regime. With a number of different closers and setup pieces, Minter has been one of the few constants. Aside perhaps from Jessie Chavez who always boomerangs back to Atlanta.

There is a reason throughout all of the changes that Minter has remained. The lefty has gone through rough spells, but always finds a way to the other side. His value is in his ability to fill so many different roles over the years while reliably eating innings.

It is a skill set that Minter can cash in on in free agency if he so chooses. Much as is the case with Fried, it is fair to question whether a return home could be on the table. It has been noticed how well A.J. fares in his return home, could the reliever look to join the Astros or Rangers this offseason?

If Minter isn't set on a return to his home state, the Braves should already be working on getting an extension done.

Losing both Fried and Minter in the same offseason cannot be understated. Minter has often been the arm that steps up when things aren't going perfectly just as Fried finds a way to eat innings when the bullpen needs it most.

Both players walking away from Atlanta in the same offseason would demand corresponding splashy moves. However, the far easier decision would be to spend what it takes to lock up both players and continue to keep this Braves core together.

Marcell Ozuna - team option 2025

A little over a year ago Ozuna could be considered one of the most overpaid players in the league. Atlanta had a valid reason to simply eat the salary and move on from the DH. However, their patience was rewarded down the stretch last season and Ozuna has defied the odds improving in the 2024 season.

Ozuna ranks in the top three in batting average, homers, and RBIs. Oftentimes the Braves offense has simply boiled down to Ozuna putting the team on his back and doing all of the work. It has kept Atlanta afloat and afforded the rest of Atlanta's bats time to figure things out.

Atlanta has a $16-million dollar team option on Ozuna next season. There is little doubt that it is going to be exercised and the thirty-three-year-old will be returning next season. However, there is an argument to be made that Atlanta should look to add to this deal.

Doing something similar to what they did for Chris Sale after trading for the starter. Offer Ozuna a two-year extension that is going to take him into the 2027 season. We have seen throughout league history that this level of hitting can be maintained into your late thirties, this is especially true at the DH position.

Offer Ozuna future stability and give yourself one less question to face heading into the offseason. One that is sure to be defined by Max Fried's decision. Ozuna has more than earned at least one season added on as he continues to be the driving force of this Atlanta offense.

Orlando Arcia - team option 2026

Having the take the Braves should have done more at shortstop this past offseason is an easy corner to take. One that has to endure the consistently horrid AB's that Arcia put up for much of the last two months. Atlanta has Arcia locked up for next season already and a team option the following year.

Despite this, the Braves should consider moving off of Arcia or putting him back in a utility role. Arcia's value to this team was his incredible defense. With the offense healthy and performing as expected you don't need Arcia to be a key piece of the offensive production. Slot him into the bottom of the lineup and any production is a surprise.

However, when you have dealt with the injuries that Atlanta has the lack of production has been glaring. Perhaps only made better by Dansby Swanson's highly paid struggles, it is clear Arcia isn't a long-term answer.

His current extension is team-friendly and works as a starter or utility player. This allows flexibility but no matter how his production fluctuates the past year should be enough for Atlanta to realize this is a short-term arrangement.

One that is accepting the void in the lineup and hoping it is offset by their depth and Arcia's incredible defense. Defense that will keep Arcia in the lineup as Atlanta continues to consider their future at the position.

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