2 reasons they Braves won't extend Max Fried
1. The Braves can't afford him
Every Brave who has signed an extension over the last five seasons has signed below market value. Max Fried will almost certainly not sign for anything that's not within the going rate for an ace who is just turning 30.
So, what would a contract of that caliber look like?
When Gerrit Cole signed his nine-year, $324 million contract in 2020, he had a higher career ERA than Max Fried does now and a FIP of only 0.16 runs better.
Of course, Cole had more innings and strikeouts than Fried will by the end of next year, but Cole was only 8 months younger when he signed his big deal than Fried is now. Aside from Cole, no other pitcher in the last half-decade who has hit free agency has been as consistent and dominant as Fried.
Kevin Gausman, who got a five-year, $110 million contract in 2022 had already been DFA'd by the Braves and non-tendered and signed a one-year prove-it deal prior to hitting it big.
Carlos Rodon was also non-tendered prior to hitting free agency and signed two one-year prove-it deals, once with the White Sox, who non-tendered him after 2020, and once with San Francisco in 2022. Rodon parlayed the second prove-it deal into a six-year, $162 million deal.
Fried likely won't get the same deal as Gerrit Cole. However, it's not unreasonable to predict, considering the deals other pitchers are getting, that Max could get upwards of $200 million in free agency.
Max Fried is a union representative and it's in the players' best interest if Fried does maximize his contract. But, with the Braves' current payroll, it's questionable if they could afford to pay a starter who makes an average of $30 million a year.
2. Long-term contracts for 30-year-old pitchers hardly work out
There's a reason the Braves are hesitant to hand out long-term deals to pitchers. The fact is, they seldom work out for the team. For every Max Scherzer/Nationals contract, you have many, many Patrick Corbin-type deals.
Chris Sale, who signed his extension in 2019 for five years and $145 million ($29 million AAV), has pitched 151 innings in the four seasons his contract has been active. That's a total of 151 innings in four seasons.
Carlos Rodon, whose six-year, $162 million deal just started in 2023, is already looking like a mistake. The lefty had a 6.85 ERA and 5.79 FIP in the 64.1 innings he did manage to pitch in.
Patrick Corbin, who has managed to stay healthy, has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball during his six-year, $140 million contract, aside from his 2019 season, which helped net the Nationals their first-ever World Series.
Fried's 2023 was marred by injuries, and if he even has a minor injury hiccup in 2024, the Braves might decide he's not worth the risk.