Braves rumors: Surprising connection could give Atlanta the edge for Aaron Nola

The Atlanta Braves emerge as potential contenders to secure the Phillies' Aaron Nola. The club's southern location and a shared past with their pitching coach could be instrumental in wooing Nola.

Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies
Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

This week, the Braves were named as a surprise suitor for Phillies' Aaron Nola. Would they really poach the star pitcher from their division rivals?

Among all the reasons they shouldn't and they won't, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal listed one very relevant reason Atlanta could land Nola this winter.

Rosenthal wrote, "Of the pitchers available, righty Aaron Nola is perhaps the most intriguing fit. Nola is close with Braves pitching coach Rick Kranitz, who was with the Philadelphia Phillies from 2016 to ‘18. And as a native of Baton Rouge, La., who attended LSU, he might prefer to sign with a team in the south."

Even though the Braves have other roster needs (namely, left field), the team may still be keeping a quality starting pitcher like Nola on the radar.

Braves pitching coach Rick Kranitz and Aaron Nola share chemistry

Fitting Nola's projected contract into the Braves' payroll will be a gargantuan task, as Nola could command, at the high end, a six-year, $168 million deal.

The Braves have no business shelling out that kind of money for a player who would only fulfill a minor need. Plus, Atlanta still has to figure out what to do with Max Fried, who will enter free agency after the 2024 season.

At the end of the day, would something as seemingly small as a coaching connection be enough to lure Nola to an NL East rival? It certainly helps that the Braves boast a larger-than-most playoff window, and as Rosenthal states, are located further down south closer to his home state of Louisiana.

If the Phillies are indeed ready to move on from Nola this offseason, the Braves could be prepared to pounce.

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