Max Fried is entering the last year of his contract with the Atlanta Braves. He escaped arbitration with a $15 million contract, but earlier conversations continue to loom large. Fried lost his arbitration hearing last season, and Atlanta has declined to engage in serious extension talks. This raises serious concerns about Fried’s future.

While there’s a good likelihood the two are going to break up, the 30-year-old isn’t making a scene. Fried recently spoke with media about his uncertain contract position. He expressed sorrow for the Braves’ front management and emphasized the benefits of his time in Atlanta thus far.

“I feel like a lot of that is, I would say, out of my control right now,” Fried added, citing Battery Power. “The Braves do things in a particular way. I understand that privacy is important, and that doing it behind closed doors is the norm. I respect that. I know I enjoy being here. I’m very excited to get started with this group. We hired a number of highly talented folks. We have men from last year that are still here. We didn’t accomplish everything we intended last year, but I know we have a very driven bunch. “I’m very excited to get started.”

This is encouraging news for Atlanta supporters who are concerned about Fried’s approaching free agency. It’s also a strong reminder that the Braves are prioritizing more immediate objectives. At the very least, Fried would love to go with a second World Series ring. The Braves are primed to compete right now. That is where Fried focuses.

The Braves’ Max Fried teaches patience as free agency approaches.The important line in Friend is “out of my control.” This is the nature of the beast. MLB teams ultimately have all authority in free agency. Players can raise the price and bargain for the best offers, but organizations control the market. Fried cannot stay in Atlanta until the Braves offer him a contract. The ball is in Alex Anthopoulos’ court.

Fried’s 2023 season was cut short by injuries, but he was tremendously electric when fit. He went 8-1 in 14 starts, with a 2.55 ERA and 1.133 WHIP. Fried was the NL Cy Young runner-up in 2022 (and sixth in 2020), so we know he can produce at an ace level throughout the season. If the Braves don’t step up, other teams will pursue Fried, possibly with a contract offer in the $200 million range.

Fried is a three-time Gold Glove winner who possesses exceptional control throughout his four-pitch arsenal. He even won the Silver Slugger award in 2021, but that is an antiquated skill for pitchers now. In short, Fried is among the finest at his position. The Braves have depth on the mound, with Spencer Strider and Chris Sale signed through 2024, but there should still be pressure on the front office to keep Fried. It’s tough to imagine his departure not correlating with a significant drop in collective pitching success.

For the time being, Fried will enjoy his excellent experience with colleagues while aiming for a title shot in 2024. The Braves are designed for success, and Fried is a critical gear in the buzzsaw machine. We’ll see how long it lasts.

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