MLB rumors: Braves predicted big splash is clear after Aaron Nola taken off table

The Atlanta Braves are being viewed as a team that'll make a big move, with specifics unknown to this point. With Aaron Nola no longer an option, their best option is clear.
Cincinnati Reds v Atlanta Braves
Cincinnati Reds v Atlanta Braves / Adam Hagy/GettyImages

The Philadelphia Phillies could feel the Atlanta Braves breathing down their neck, hoping to poach their ace starting pitcher, Aaron Nola in free agency. Ultimately, the Braves' interest only sped the process up for a Phillies reunion with Nola, putting Atlanta back at square one to fortify its rotation.

The biggest need that Alex Anthopoulos needs to handle for the Braves this offseason is undoubtedly starting pitching.

One thing is becoming increasingly clear: The league expects whatever move the Braves come with to cause a massive splash.

Ken Rosenthal hinted in his most recent column that an executive source confided in him that the recent flood of trades and non-tenders that removed 14 players from the Braves roster appears to be for a specific reason. Bob Nightengale had similar thoughts to report in his own Sunday column:

Here's what Nightengale wrote:

"Executives believe that Atlanta is poised to strike big after saving about $12 million in their trades and non-tenders on Friday. They traded six players and non-tendered seven others. 

Certainly, GM Alex Anthopoulos has something big in mind."

So, with Nola re-signed by the Phillies, what's left for the Braves, who aren't positioned to hold back punches?

Braves big splash after Aaron Nola taken off the table is way too obvious

With Nola off the table, the next-best option for the Braves is Sonny Gray. Jon Morosi confirmed on Sunday afternoon that he is the next-in-line for the Braves to go after. Pursuing him aggressively would appear a prudent next step for Anthopoulos and the Braves, who need to do whatever they can to get the best arm available to restore hopes of a World Series return.

Gray has been tied to the Braves for some time. After he infamously made clear the financials of his next deal are not necessarily the most important, the Braves appeared a great fit, known for securing a team-friendly contract and in dire need of a player like Gray.

Gray pitched a sub-3.00 ERA last season with a league-leading 2.83 FIP. He put forth his best strikeout-to-walk ratio since 2013 at 3.33. He allowed fewer than 10 home runs all season.

Gray has pitched just six postseason games. so the only concern may be his experience in that regard. Notably, Gray gave up no runs in his first game in the 2023 postseason but surrendered four to the Astros in his second and final postseason appearance of 2023.

If not Gray, another pitcher worth considering is Jordan Montgomery, though whispers appear to connect him tighter with a Rangers reunion after their World Series win. Options after that get murky, with Marcus Stroman likely the next-best pitcher, and Michael Lorenzen following. Both have had good careers but do not scream consistency.

Another "big splash" type move might be making a play for Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the Japanese player expected to be posted next week.

The obvious guess, though, is Gray.

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