After Max Fried's latest gem, what are the odds of a long-term deal with the Braves?

Max Fried has been on a roll of late for the Braves. What does that mean for the possibility of him staying in Atlanta after this season?
Atlanta Braves v Chicago Cubs
Atlanta Braves v Chicago Cubs / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

One of the bigger storylines for the Atlanta Braves coming into the 2024 season was the long-term future of Max Fried with the Braves. While both sides as well as Braves fans loved the idea of keeping Fried around for the long haul, finding a contract number this close to Fried's free agency that works for both sides has proven to be tricky. Adding a wrinkle to the whole discussion is the fact that Fried missed a huge chunk of time last season with a forearm issue which could be seen as a red flag.

When the 2024 got started, those concerns got just a little bit louder as Fried struggled out of the gate with a 7.71 ERA in his first four starts with uninspiring walk and strikeout totals. If Fried continued to struggle, there was a really good chance that the Braves wouldn't even want to approach what Fried's presumed asking price currently is.

However, Maximum Fried has since returned and after throwing his second complete game of the season in Wednesday night's win over the Cubs and seems to flirt with a no-hitter almost every other time he takes the mound now, it is fair to wonder what the odds are that the Braves and Fried can work out a long-term deal.

Don't expect an in-season Fried extension with the Braves, but a return is very much in the cards

Both Fried and the Braves are being very quiet on any extension talks, although what has been shared publicly has at least been promising. Fried has been open that he loves playing for the Braves and is more than willing to stay and Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos has praised him at every turn. Now that Fried has proven that he is fully healthy and VERY capable of going deep into games, Atlanta's interest in keeping him around has probably only increased.

The problem, as is often the case, is going to come down to price. The Braves do have some young arms coming up in AJ Smith-Shawver, Hurston Waldrep, and Spencer Schwellenbach that should be ready for the big leagues relatively soon, but Fried is a proven frontline starter and, importantly, is a lefty which the Braves don't have waiting in the wings.

There are two recent contracts to keep an eye on when it comes to predicting Fried's next which will start when he is 31 years old. Aaron Nola is a righty, but the age and role fit beyond that and the Phillies gave him a seven year, $172 million deal this past offseason. It is hard to envision the Braves going seven years, but the six year offer at around $27 million Atlanta was rumored to have offered Nola seems to be a decent starting point.

The other deal is Carlos Rodon who fits not only as a lefty in his early 30's, but also who had a recent history of injury issues. Rodon got that $27 million a year number as well over six years from the Yankees and while the results have been mixed for him in New York, that feels like a good barometer for the start of Fried's market.

With a strong rest of the season without any injury issues, Fried could push his price even higher than that especially on the open market and the Braves could probably be convinced to up his AAV as well especially with Charlie Morton also set to become a free agent.

Given how close Fried is to free agency, there is little chance an extension gets done in season as it could screw with the Braves' luxury tax number this year and cost Fried money in the long run without the leverage of free agency. That said, we are probably in a coin flip situation as to whether or not Atlanta can keep Fried beyond this season and the odds may get worse and worse the better Fried pitches this year and he establishes himself as the best non-Boras client pitcher on the free agent market.

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