The Braves cleared house over the weekend, non-tendering a league-leading seven players and trading several others, including Kyle Wright and Michael Soroka. The general consensus among fans is, “Alex Anthopoulos must be cooking.” Something big must be coming down the pike, right?
If you’re into rumors, it would seem that way. Ken Rosenthal reported earlier this offseason that the Braves aren’t afraid to spend money on starting pitching, which has not been their M.O. since Alex Anthopoulos took over as general manager.
MLB Network’s Jon Morosi even went as far as to say that the Braves are considered “strong possibilities” for Aaron Nola and Sonny Gray, two of the top starting pitchers in this class. Jeff Passan also added that the feeling among MLB executives is that the Braves sign one of Aaron Nola or Sonny Gray.
Well, if that’s to be true, the only one left on the table is Sonny Gray. It was reported earlier today that Aaron Nola is going back to the Phillies on a seven-year deal worth $172 million.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 19, 2023
Who knows if Aaron Nola was Alex Anthopoulos’ top choice, but according to Jeff Passan, the interest was real.
The Atlanta Braves were a real threat to poach Aaron Nola. But as negotiations with Nola and his agents, Joe Longo and Garrett Parcell, went on, the Phillies stepped up and gave out their biggest contract for a pitcher and 11th biggest ever. @BNightengale was on top of things.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 19, 2023
MLB Network’s Jon Morosi echoed Passan’s sentiment, and even added that the Braves are now considered to be among the “top suitors” for Sonny Gray.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 19, 2023
The Braves did save some money by moving on from the likes of Michael Soroka, Kyle Wright, Nicky Lopez, and others. Does that mean something something more substantial is on the horizon? These words from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic suggest so:
A roster clean-up was necessary before Friday’s non-tender deadline. None of the players the Braves lost figured to make a major contribution to their club in 2024. But here’s the thing: The team saved nearly $14 million combined in projected arbitration salaries, according to MLB Trade Rumors, while creating 10 openings on their 40-man roster.
This likely means one thing: Incoming!
“These moves are calculated and for purpose,” said another agent, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to share his candid thoughts. “One hundred percent.”
Saving a few million bucks likely isn’t going to determine whether the Braves can go out and spend $100+ million on a starting pitcher. These moves seem more focused on getting other guys on the 40-man roster that are more likely to contribute next season, rather than gambling on players that have been riddled with injuries.
With that being said, where there is smoke, there is usually fire. There are a few too many rumors surrounding the Braves from plugged in insiders to be a coincidence. They have their eyes on a frontline starter, and while actually signing one is much easier said than done, there remain plenty of options for Alex Anthopoulos to choose from.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire