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.
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.