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MLB Insider: How the Atlanta Braves will replace Max Fried

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Max Fried, Atlanta Braves. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Max Fried, Atlanta Braves. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Losing Max Fried is a major blow for the Atlanta Braves. Here’s how the team will replace him, and why they should look to the trade market.

Atlanta Braves ace Max Fried started the 2023 season having allowed only one run through his first 20 innings and appeared headed for a mega-deal in free agency.

But an early trip to the Injured List due to a hamstring strain slowed Fried down. He returned after a multi-week absence and his fastball sat at an average 94.8 mph. But in his two most recent starts, his fastball velocity dropped to 93.5 mph, and he allowed seven runs (five earned) against the Baltimore Orioles on May 5.

Alarm bells started to go off once Braves manager Brian Snitker said that Fried was “going through some things.” Now, Fried has been placed on the 15-day IL with a strained left forearm. The good news is that the injury does not pertain to his elbow, according to sources. The bad news for Fried and the Braves is that this is expected to be an extended absence.

How will the Atlanta Braves replace Max Fried?

The fact that the injury does not pertain to his elbow means that it will have little effect on Fried’s free agency in the offseason. He is still slated to be among the top starting pitchers available, with other options including Shohei Ohtani, Aaron Nola, Jordan Montgomery, Lucas Giolito and Jack Flaherty, among others.

But the injury puts the Braves’ rotation in a precarious position. Their rotation now features Spencer Strider, Charlie Morton and Bryce Elder. They will likely call up Dylan Dodd, Jared Shuster or Mike Soroka from the minors, though both Dodd and Shuster have struggled in brief major-league action and Soroka is still eight months removed from his second Achilles tendon surgery.

It could force Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos to explore the trade market. He has shown a willingness to make trades well before the trade deadline in the past and one early seller could be the Chicago White Sox, who boast free-agents-to-be Mike Clevinger and Lucas Giolito, as well as star right-hander Dylan Cease.

Losing Fried is a massive blow for the Braves. There’s no other way around it. How long he is out — and how the franchise goes about filling that void — could very well end up deciding who wins a stacked National League East.

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