In 2022, Kyle Wright won 21 games as a starting pitcher to lead all of Major League Baseball. The Atlanta Braves were forced to keep him sidelined for the majority of the 2023 regular season. Now Atlanta will have to go the rest of the postseason and ALL of 2024 without Wright due to shoulder surgery.
This devastating news might be the icing on the cake to force Alex Anthopoulos and the Braves to pursue starting pitching in the offseason. Here are three reasons why Atlanta could be adding a top-of-the-line starter to their rotation in 2024.
1. Charlie Morton May Retire
Charlie Morton is in his 16th season as an MLB pitcher. He is currently battling an injury at the age of 39. He will be 40 years old before Spring Training begins. Retirement seems inevitable for Morton.
Most signs point to him retiring following the 2023 season but it is most certainly unlikely to see him on a Major League mound past 2024.
2. Max Fried Enters His Contract Season
Max Fried is often referred to as the Atlanta Braves ace. However, Spencer Strider came along in 2023 and may have taken over that title.
After the 2024 season, Max Fried will become an unrestricted free agent. With the performances he has put on wearing a Braves uniform, it is safe to say 29 other MLB teams would be interested in Fried.
Depending on his asking price, the Braves could choose to go a different route and let Fried walk in free agency or better yet, trade him at the deadline of the 2024 season. If either of these scenarios were to happen, it would leave a big hole in the Braves starting rotation that would need to be filled quickly.
3. Kyle Wright Will Not Pitch in 2024
After leading all of the MLB in wins as a starting pitcher and finishing 10th in NL Cy Young voting in 2022, the Braves expected Kyle Wright to do a lot of heavy lifting moving forward.
He can't do much lifting at all now due to shoulder injuries he has been battling for all of 2023. Wright only appeared in nine games this season where he allowed 24 runs in just 31 innings pitched.
Wright will undergo shoulder surgery that will sideline him for all of 2024. It is always good to be optimistic but this feels very similar to a Michael Soroka situation. Even if Wright can find himself back on an MLB mound following the surgery, the likelihood of him returning to form is unknown.
As a result of this, the Braves could look for another middle-of-the-rotation piece to fill in the gap that Wright will leave in 2024 in hopes of creating a deadly 1-2 punch with Spencer Strider.
Obviously, the Braves number one priority is to bring home another World Series title. However, the life of a successful General Manager consists of looking ahead. Alex Anthopoulos could very well have some targets in mind already.
There is no indication of this being reality but two players that would make sense for Atlanta to target this upcoming offseason are Sonny Gray and Aaron Nola.
Sonny Gray is a seasoned veteran who has proven he can win games at the MLB level. He is a 3X all-star who has finished in the top 10 of Cy Young voting twice. 11 years into his career, the Braves may be able to get him at a reasonable price.
Aaron Nola could have a reunion so to speak with Rick Kranitz who also spent some time with the Phillies. Nola will be entering his 10th year in 2024 and would have a much higher asking price to join the Braves, especially coming from a division rival.