How the Mets can benefit from the bold Braves decision to extend Chris Sale

The Mets can benefit more from the Chris Sale signing than just buyer's remorse for Atlanta.
Apr 28, 2023; New York City, New York, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Max Fried (54) delivers
Apr 28, 2023; New York City, New York, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Max Fried (54) delivers / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

It was surprising enough to see Chris Sale traded to the Atlanta Braves. Piling on top of the jaw-dropping news, the team extended him through the 2025 season with a club option in 2026. It’s essentially a restructuring of the contract, but it does guarantee him an extra year in Atlanta. New York Mets fans don’t need to worry much about his presence in the National League East. Sale is at the point in his career that if he gives you a good 15 starts you’ll be satisfied.

All decisions will have a cause and effect to them and this one will have plenty of fallout. As a result of the Braves guaranteeing Sale another year, one of their top free agents next offseason may be more apt to land elsewhere.

Max Fried is more likely to leave the Braves in free agency with Chris Sale locked up

Mets fans have seen enough of Max Fried to know he’s someone that could alter the rotation in a positive way next year. Exclusively against the Mets, he’s 8-6 with a 2.65 ERA in 102 innings—most of which came as a starter but a few relief appearances mixed in there as well. For the Mets to have handed him 6 losses is actually impressive. Since debuting in 2017, Fried has only 26 of them altogether. He is a proven winner who since becoming a full-time starter in 2019 is 60-21 with a 3.00 ERA.

It’s fair to even call Fried underrated. He’s a three-time Gold Glove winner with only a single All-Star appearance. According to Baseball-Reference, through age 29, his numbers match most closely with Satchel Paige.

Pitching Fried to Mets fans is easy. Pitching the Mets to Fried will be the tougher part. Born in Santa Monica, a high school student in Los Angeles, and originally drafted by the San Diego Padres, he’s California through and through. But this shouldn’t completely wash away any hopes of the Mets stealing Fried away from the Braves. Zack Wheeler went from the Mets to the Philadelphia Phillies with his hometown Braves left in the dust. Not everyone needs to be near their childhood home.

For the Braves to get within one season of Fried hitting free agency and no extension in place suggests one will never arrive. The two sides did discuss a contract extension prior to 2023. Nothing, of course, came from it.

It’s beginning to look like Fried will reach the point where Dansby Swanson and even Freddie Freeman got with the Braves. While they’ll certainly be in the mix for him, the rise from some of their younger pitchers in addition to the huge bump in salary Spencer Strider will get in 2026 (going from $4 million to $20 million) points toward a parting of the ways for Fried and the Braves.

Often smart spenders because of how team-friendly their deals turn out to age, it’s how far along this has gone with Fried being without an extension that will have Mets fans adding him to their wish list next offseason. It doesn’t seem to be a matter of whether or not they can afford him—which they can, given how much money is coming off the books. The two sides just seem to believe he’s valued differently.

Alongside Corbin Burnes, the Mets have two options next year with guys who will have chips on their shoulders. Like Fried, Burnes has never gotten the credit from the Milwaukee Brewers front office with the two even going to arbitration last offseason. On wrongs swift vengeance waits.