Braves Country is waiting for Alex Anthopoulos to bolster the starting rotation, but I feel confident in saying it’s coming down the pike.
That doesn’t mean today or even tomorrow, but it will come. It’s just a feeling based on the information presented. It was reported that the Braves “were a real threat” to sign Aaron Nola after he inked a deal with the Phillies.
Yesterday, baseball insider Steve Phillips said on MLB Network that Atlanta is “in on” Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who was just recently posted. There’s certainly risk involved in pursuing the 25-year-old Japanese superstar, as there is no guarantee that his game translates to Major League Baseball, but if it does, the reported $200+ million contract he’ll garner would be a bargain.
Anothopoulos could prefer a safer bet. Soon after the Aaron Nola news broke, it was reported that the Braves were seemingly shifting their focus to Sonny Gray, who will demand a lesser deal than Nola and Yamamoto because of his age.
Gray is coming off the best season of his career, where he led all of Major League Baseball with a 2.83 FIP and recorded a 2.79 ERA en route to a second-place finish in the AL Cy Young race. He’s 34 years old, so a shorter-term deal is likely and probably more desirable for the Braves.
There could be mutual interest too. Sonny Gray is from Tennessee and played college ball at Vanderbilt, the heart of Braves Country. According to Buster Olney of ESPN, some believe that Gray prefers to land closer to home with one anonymous agent saying, “I think he would love to play for the Braves,” adding “like deGrom did last year.”
The fit makes sense on paper, but in free agency, anything can happen, especially in the starting pitcher market. Desperate clubs overpay, and Alex Anthopoulos has never been the GM to get into bidding wars; however, if Sonny Gray or another starter prefers Atlanta, I fully expect the Braves to get a deal done because money isn’t the issue.
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