Aaron Nola discusses the Braves pursuit of him in free agency

MLB: JUL 29 Phillies at Pirates

The Braves typically don’t swing for the fences in free agency. The largest contract they’ve handed out since Alex Anthopoulos took over as general manager in 2017 was a four-year, $65 million deal to Marcell Ozuna, who was already on the team the year prior. However, they did try to hit a home run this offseason in an attempt to poach away Aaron Nola from the Philadelphia Phillies.

Multiple reports linked the Braves to Aaron Nola prior to him re-upping with the Phillies, and even more reports came out after the fact that Alex Anthopoulos made a serious push to land him. One report from Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer even said the Braves went as far as making a six-year, $162 million offer to Nola. 

“The Braves, off back-to-back 100-win seasons and divisional-round ousters by the Phillies, made a six-year, $162 million offer to Nola out of the chute, a source said Sunday. It was a sensible starting point. Atlanta’s bid equaled the Yankees’ deal with free-agent lefty Carlos Rodón last winter.”

The Braves successfully put pressure on the Phillies, who upped their offer to seven years, ending Nola’s negotiations with other teams. He will return to Philadelphia, which was always the hope, according to Nola.

“(The Braves) had interest,” Nola said, via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The business part of free agency, a lot of teams are looking for pitching. … It’s part of the process, going through it and talking to teams. They were interested.

“It would’ve been weird to wear a (different uniform), being with one team your whole career then having something else on your chest. It would’ve definitely felt weird.”

The Braves interest in Nola was far from a surprise. From the start of the offseason, Alex Anthopoulos made bolstering the rotation a top priority, and Nola was the ideal target because of his durability. For a staff that has been plagued by injuries over the last several seasons, adding a workhorse who hasn’t missed a start in six years had to be enticing for the Braves. Since 2018, Nola has never thrown fewer than 180 innings over a full season, eclipsing 200 innings three times.

Not only would Aaron Nola have solidified the Braves rotation, but it also would have taken away one of the best arms from arguably Atlanta’s biggest threat in the National League.

Looking at it from a glass half full perspective, however, the Braves aggressive pursuit of Nola does suggest they are willing to spend big in free agency on the right pitcher. Whether that’s Max Fried next offseason or someone else, look for them to once again be heavily involved in the market for free agent starting pitchers next winter.

Photo: Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire


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