Aaron Nola is now off the board. The Philadelphia Phillies retained their star right-hander for seven years and $172 million.
The market has moved, and now it's time to examine where other free agent starters might fit.
Sonny Gray remains one of the top options available. The Phillies would have been a potential landing spot if they had been unable to sign Nola. But with Nola off the board, the Phillies are likely out of the running for Gray.
With that in mind, here are three teams that still need starting pitching help and could ultimately make a play for the righty.
St. Louis may be the best fit for Gray out of every team in baseball.
The veteran right-hander finished second in the Cy Young race in the American League this year with an ERA of 2.79, which makes him an ideal target for the Cardinals, who are desperate to add pitching and put a miserable 2023 season behind them.
Gray fits the mold of an ace and will cost significantly less than somebody like Blake Snell or Yoshinobu Yamamoto, both in terms of value and years.
Gray is from Smyrna, Tennessee, which is just five hours away from St. Louis. So, if signed, he would be pitching closer to home. Going back to value and number of years, the 34-year-old would certainly be somebody within the Cardinals' preferred price range.
The Cardinals' lack of pitching is what caused them to finish in last place in the NL Central this year. They sat out on the sweepstakes for several of the top starting pitchers last offseason and paid the price for it.
This is a mistake that John Mozeliak cannot afford to make a second time if the Cardinals truly plan on being a contending club again.
Much like the Phillies with Gray, Atlanta was a team to keep an eye on for Aaron Nola. But with Nola now off the board, Gray has become a top target for the Braves.
On Sunday, Jon Morosi of MLB Network tweeted that the Braves were one of the top suitors for Gray.
The Braves have a solid top four in their rotation which features Max Fried, Spencer Strider, Bryce Elder, and Charlie Morton. However, they need to fill the fifth spot, and Kyle Wright and Michael Soroka have already been traded away, which poses a slight problem for a team that won 104 games this year.
Still, Gray could be of use to the Braves. His hometown of Smyrna is just three hours away from Atlanta, which could give the Braves a slight advantage over the Cardinals in the Gray sweepstakes.
The Braves have fallen short in the NLDS against the Phillies in each of the last two postseasons. But the addition of a pitcher like Gray would give them a better chance to make a deeper run and recapture the glory that was felt in 2021 when they won their first World Series title since 1995.
There has been no indication as of yet that the Red Sox are one of the teams in the Gray sweepstakes. But they could sure use a frontline starter to bolster their rotation, and Gray could help with that.
Much like the Cardinals, the Red Sox were felled by their lack of starting pitching depth, much less a top-of-the-line starter. Gray briefly pitched in the AL East during his time with the Red Sox's hated rivals — the New York Yankees, so it wouldn't exactly be unfamiliar territory for the veteran right-hander.
The Red Sox were actually in contention for much of the 2023 season, but a September swoon sunk them to last place in the AL East for the second consecutive year as they finished with a record of 78-84.
But for a team that has plenty of financial resources and a history of winning, it would certainly make sense to target somebody like Gray to try and bounce back into postseason contention and bring back the glory days in the City of Boston.
Having Gray next to Brayan Bello, the team's homegrown ace, would certainly be a good start for them as they try to build a contender.2023-11-20T17:39:50Z dg43tfdfdgfd