Despite signing seemingly every one of their young stars to a long-term extension, the Atlanta Braves' rising payroll could cause them to trade Max Fried.
On MLB Network's Hot Stove (h/t MLB.com), Jim Callis of MLB.com noted there are "rumors" Fried could be moved this offseason, as it's unclear if the club will be able to sign him to an extension.
However, ESPN's Buster Olney reported Atlanta isn't entertaining a potential Fried trade, as the team is in win-now mode.
Those reports come after the Braves acquired All-Star catcher Sean Murphy from the Oakland Athletics in a three-team trade with the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday.
The Braves have the fifth-highest payroll in MLB at $162.2 million. It's unclear if Murphy even wants to sign an extension, but he's under team control through 2025 regardless.
ESPN's David Schoenfield did point out that the Braves immediately signed Matt Olson to an eight-year, $168 million extension after acquiring him from the A's in March.
Olson was entering his second year of arbitration prior to signing the extension. Murphy is entering his first year of arbitration and is projected to earn $3.3 million in 2023, per Spotrac.
Fried has two years of team control remaining and is projected to make $12.1 million next season. His value in a trade will likely never be higher because of his performance and being unable to hit free agency until after 2024.
The Braves have nothing to lose by at least putting out feelers to see what the market looks like for Fried. The very top tier of free-agent starters are off the board, with Justin Verlander and Jacob deGrom having signed.
Carlos Rodón has pitched like an ace, with a 2.67 ERA and 422 strikeouts in 310.2 innings over the past two seasons, but he had a 4.28 ERA in five seasons from 2016 to 2020. The 2022 campaign marked the first time in his career he made at least 30 starts in a single year.
Fried is 13 months younger than Rodón with a much stronger track record of durability. The southpaw has made at least 28 starts in each of the last three 162-game seasons dating back to 2019.
He has finished in the top five in National League Cy Young voting twice in the previous three seasons, including a second-place showing in 2022 after posting a 2.48 ERA in 30 starts.