Following an incredibly disappointing exit in the NLDS for the second year in a row, Braves fans can finally start to find a little bit of solace in the early rumblings surrounding free agency.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic originally reported the Braves are not worried about spending big for the right starting pitcher, mentioning top free agent Aaron Nola as a priority. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi went as far as to say Nola along with Sonny Gray are “strong possibilities” for the Braves. Morosi also mentioned the gem of this year’s free agent class, Shohei Ohtani, is “intrigued” by the idea of playing for a perennial contender like the Atlanta Braves.
In years past, Alex Anthopoulos hasn’t been the most active general manager in free agency. He tends to avoid bidding wars and has done his best work via trades. However, there’s a feeling around the industry that might change this offseason. The Braves have inked most of their young stars to long-term, team-friendly contracts, and The Battery has been printing money since its inception, which may allow the club to finally target some of the top free agents this winter.
According to Braves manager, Brian Snitker, everything is on the table.
“There’s no rock that’s unturned, I tell you what,” Brian Snitker said via 680 The Fan. “I mean, Alex (Anthopoulos) and his staff, they are pouring over free agents, potential trades, guys we like, if they fit our system, and we’ve done a pretty good job over the years of being able to plug holes. So, we’ll do it again. It’s one of the things you do in the game now. Like I said, there’s a lot of work that goes into it. I mean, I get a lot of early morning calls, and we spend a lot of time on the phone, Alex is just tireless in his pursuit of making this team better.”
“He (Anthopoulos) is open to everybody,” Snitker continued. “Everyone you talk about, I don’t think in his mind he’s closing the door on anybody until it just doesn’t happen. I know he’s constantly in talks with the powers to be above him, and if he can make it happen, he’s going to do it.”
There’s no questioning the work ethic of Alex Anthopoulos. He’s one of the best general managers in all of sports, not just baseball. His ability to find valuable players where nobody else is looking and upgrade positions that nobody else is even considering demonstrates the amount of detail he puts into the job on a daily basis.
However, Alex Anthopoulos can only work within the limits given to him by ownership. In the past, Liberty Media has been ridiculed for its unwillingness to spend like the other top teams in the league. However, that tone has changed in recent years. Payroll has gone up every season, and Anthopoulos has already said that will be the case again in 2024.
Will it rise enough for the Braves to land one of the top free agents? We’ll find out over the next few months.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire