Should Braves have matched Cardinals offer for Sonny Gray?

MLB: AUG 03 Twins at Cardinals

From the beginning of the offseason, there have been two free agent pitchers most associated with the Braves — Aaron Nola and Sonny Gray.

Last week, Nola inked a seven-year deal worth $172 million to return to the Phillies despite the Braves’ best efforts to pry him away from their division rival. Atlanta then reportedly decided to pivot to Sonny Gray, but again, they lost in a bidding war, this time to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Ken Rosenthal later confirmed Heyman’s initial report and added the deal that is expected to be finalized is for three years, $75 million.

That’s interesting because this is a contract I would have done. Sonny Gray is a few years older than Aaron Nola, set to turn 34-years-old next season, but he’s shown no signs of slowing down. He’s coming off the best season of his career, posting a 2.79 ERA and league-leading 2.83 FIP on his way to a second place finish in the AL Cy Young race, but this is nothing new for Gray. Since 2019, he owns a 3.22 ERA and 3.34 FIP across 124 starts.

There are some durability concerns. Sonny Gray hasn’t pitched over 200 innings since 2015 and has only eclipsed 180 innings once over that stretch, which was last season. Still, I expected him to fetch four years from somebody in free agency, given the number of teams in search of starting pitching this offseason.

Three years for $75 million for a pitcher of Gray’s caliber is more than manageable, especially if the Braves were willing to go six years, $162 million for Aaron Nola. Now another top-of-the-line starting pitcher is off the board, and the bidding for the remaining free agents and trade targets will only increase. If the Braves are going to land the frontline starting pitcher they desperately need this offseason, they are going to have to go out of their comfort zone.

What’s next? Reportedly, Atlanta has now jumped into the conversation for White Sox ace Dylan Cease, a hometown kid who has two years remaining on his contract.

Braves reportedly engaged in trade talks with White Sox for Dylan Cease

Photo: Rick Ulreich/Icon Sportswire

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: