Why the St. Louis Cardinals must acquire Max Fried if he's available

Division Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves - Game One
Division Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves - Game One / Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/GettyImages
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Package #2 - The Jordan Montgomery deal

If the Braves want to bring back some certainty for their 2023 rotation, the Cardinals could offer that by slotting Jordan Montgomery into a deal for Fried.

This is actually my favorite of the three trades I put together, as I think it makes a ton of sense for both the Braves and the Cardinals. First, let's look at the Cardinals side of things.

Sure the Cardinals would love to have Montgomery in their rotation for 2023, but if they have the opportunity to upgrade him into Max Fried, they should pounce on it. Montgomery is a free agent after the 2023 season, so they gain an extra year of control with Fried. Here is how their rotation would stack up: Max Fried, Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas, Steven Matz, and Adam Wainwright. Pretty strong rotation overall.

The Cardinals lose one of their young bats in Gorman and an arm in Matthew Liberatore, but again, they can grab one of the top pitchers in all of baseball. Their roster is in a position where it is time to cash some of their assets in for an ace like Fried.

For the Braves, they get back a very good starter in Montgomery to replace Fried for the 2023 season, and could resign him before he hits free agency at a much more affordable price than Fried. At this rate, Fried will likely command $30 million a year or more annually in his next deal, while Montgomery would be somewhere closer to $20 million per season on a shorter deal. Even if they can't resign him, they can attach a qualifying offer to him and get a draft pick in 2024.

The Braves would also receive future talent in the form of Gorman and Liberatore, who can contribute in 2023 but be major contributors in 2024 and beyond. The Braves maintain a very strong outlook for next season, but improve as a whole in future years.

If these two deals don't work out, the last deal I cooked up could be a future oriented move for the Braves.