Firmly planted in the number 2 spot in the Braves 2019 rotation was today’s Atlanta Braves Extension Candidate Max Fried. I’m not sure anybody expected him to step into the role quite as seamlessly as he did, but it was no doubt a happy surprise.
Max Fried’s Background
The 7th overall pick in the 2012 draft by the Padres, Fried came to the Braves in the 2014 Justin Upton trade. In exchange for one year of Upton, the Braves received Fried, Jace Peterson, Dustin Peterson and Mallex Smith. I still love Mallex and wish the Braves had him back, but the rest of the trade is just now starting to take shape with Fried’s breakout 2019. Fried was the centerpiece of that trade even though he had just undergone tommy john surgery.
While it took him some time to recover, he was able to work his way to Atlanta near the end of 2017 for his big-league debut. Working mainly in a bullpen role in 2017 and 2018, Fried jumped to the rotation full time in 2019. Needless to say, he excelled in the role and there is more to come in 2020.
The Case for Max Fried
After pitching predominantly out of the bullpen and only throwing 26 innings in 2017 and 33.2 in 2018, nobody really expected 165.2 innings in 30 starts out of Fried. His ERA in those innings was 4.02 with a 3.72 FIP. His 2.55 BB/9 was stellar and 9.4 K/9 wasn’t too bad either. Overall, he finished 2019 with 3.0 fWAR, good for 2nd among Braves pitchers behind Soroka. He has issues with blisters now and then, but it seems like you can count on him to give you 5-6 innings of 2-3 run ball almost every time.
He relies on a nasty curveball and plus command, but his fastball and changeup are both very good pitches. He also added a slider in 2019 that will be interesting to watch progress. Fangraphs rates the slider as his most valuable pitch, if that’s the case he could be in for a monster 2020 season.
The Contract Proposal for Max Fried
The Braves will have Max Fried under contract for at least the next four seasons. Although it was a while ago, the one comparison I really like is the contract extension Madison Bumgarner received after the 2011 season. With 4 years of team control left, Bumgarner had just pitched over 200 innings in his first full season with the Giants. Bumgarner spent half the season in the big league in 2010 after debuting in 2009. The biggest difference was age; Bumgarner was 20 at the time, Fried is currently 25. Bumgarner received a 5-year deal worth $35M with 2 $12M club options. Both options were exercised and the total deal was 7/$59M.
For Fried I propose a 5-year deal worth $40M with 2 $15M club options. A rough estimate would be Fried makes $25-30M during his 3 arbitration years, so this contract gives him a guaranteed 40 million in exchange for at least one year of control. If he continues to build on his 2019 success, the 2 options will be picked up and he will receive $70M over 7 years. He could then become a free agent at age 32 and be in prime position for a big contract.
This looks like a win for both sides as Soroka and Fried will headline the braves rotation for years to come. Here’s to hoping some of these extensions will work out and there’s more “years to come” than just the remaining club control years. Thanks for reading!
Enjoyed this piece about Extension Candidate Max Fried? Check out Extension Candidate Brian Snitker.