Breaking: 3 teams that could swipe The player from Braves in…

3 teams that could swipe Sonny Gray from the Braves in free agency.

Oct 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) pitches

The Braves and Sonny Gray appear to be a strong fit for each other, but there are plenty of other teams that are going to push hard to steal him for themselves.

The Atlanta Braves have one glaring need going into this offseason: starting pitching. The top of the rotation does look strong with Max Fried and Spencer Strider, but things start getting really iffy after that. Charlie Morton’s age is a concern, Bryce Elder struggled in the second half of 2023, and none of the Braves’ other young arms managed to stake a claim to that 5th spot in the rotation. With the Braves seemingly very much in the market for a higher end arm, one name that has come up repeatedly early in the offseason as a potential Braves target is Sonny Gray.

Other than Gray having the qualifying offer attached to him, he does seem like the most Braves-y of the free agent starters. He probably won’t require more than three years on a deal, he obviously has a strong recent track record of success, and signing him would protect Atlanta against the possibility that Max Fried could leave after the 2024 season while not locking them into a potentially problematic long-term deal.

However, competition is set to be fierce for Gray’s services. Here are three of the teams that could snatch Gray away from the Braves this offseason.

Minnesota Twins

Never bet too much against an incumbent as the Twins are likely to be very motivated to keep Gray around. After Sonny posted a 2.90 ERA across the last two seasons in Minnesota, the Twins know that Gray was a huge part of their recent success and showed with the Carlos Correa deal that they are willing to spend on the right players at the right time.

Not only is Minnesota in a good spot in a vacuum with the young talent they have on their roster on both sides of the ball, they also play in the worst division in baseball in the AL Central. The Tigers will be a bit better in 2024, but the Guardians, White Sox, and Royals all have their issues right now. With such a prime opportunity to dominate the division and guarantee a playoff spot, the Twins aren’t likely to take their foot off the gas and can offer Gray a contract without having to price in the cost of signing him as a QO guy.

St. Louis Cardinals

There was no small amount of joy in Braves Country this season as the Cardinals’ imploded in on themselves. Expected to be significant favorites to compete in the NL Central in 2024, the Cardinals’ devil magic final ran out and their rotation got exposed in a big way in route to a last place finish in the Central with a 71-91 record.

Expectations in St. Louis are too high for a longer term rebuild. The Cardinals have the money, an offense that should be good in the short-term, and a very clearly defined need to add multiple starting pitchers. That may mean that the names at the top of the market (Ohtani, Snell, Montgomery) could be out of reach, but a guy like Gray who won’t cost as much looks like a logical choice.

Ultimately, the Cardinals have a ton of choices here and once they sign that first arm, it will dictate the rest of the offseason. They have already been connected to Aaron Nola which, if that were happen, would likely take them out of the chase for Gray.

With the Cardinals’ familiarity with Gray from his days with the Reds, their level of interest in him should be well-known soon. Cardinals’ interest typically does get leaked and Gray is a big enough name to get asked about. However, it isn’t hard to connect the dots here and it is likely that St. Louis is going to be in the hunt for him.

San Francisco Giants

The Giants are very much playing in the deep end of the free agent pool this offseason. They are among the top suitors for Yoshinobu Yamamoto and have been very public about their desire to try and sign Shohei Ohtani. Even if they miss on both of those guys, their pursuit of them shows that they have money burning a hole in their pockets and seem to be very keen to add a higher end starter.

Assuming a world where they miss out on Yamamoto and Ohtani which is very possible, the Giants are likely to be aggressive in going after the next tier of free agents. What the Giants really need is an impact bat or two, but this market is awful in terms of position players and clearly the Giants don’t mind target an arm right now. If pitching is the strength of the market (and it is), expect the Giants to be involved with the better arms and that definitely includes Gray who has the added benefit of probably being cheap enough to keep the Giants in the running for other good free agents.

The problem for the Giants is that Gray may not look at that team and think “contender”. Both the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks look like they are in much better spots than San Francisco right now and the Padres are going to be a wild card once again and that is just in the National League West. Until the Giants can assemble a lineup that looks like it can at least be reasonable, an older guy like Gray isn’t going to be enamored with the possibility of finishing out his career playing on a team that looks more like a .500 club than a playoff contender.

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