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Atlanta Braves interested in top pitcher on MLB free agent market

The Atlanta Braves made a push to sign free agent Aaron Nola before his re-signed with the division-rival Philadelphia Phillies on a whopping seven-year contract worth up to $172 million.

Despite missing out on Nola, general manager Alex Anthopoulos isn’t stepping back from the open market. According to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, Atlanta is one of the top suitors for Minnesota Twins ace Sonny Gray.

This is the clearest indication yet that the reigning National League East champions are looking to upgrade a rotation that struggled to an extent last season. Atlanta’s entire staff posted a 4.14 ERA, good enough for 15th in MLB. It was the Braves’ offense that helped lead them to a league-best 104-58 record before falling to the aforementioned Phillies in the National League Divisional Series.

This past season saw Gray, 34, finish second in the American League Cy Young voting. The veteran finished with an 8-8 record while pitching to a 2.79 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. He also struck out 183 batters in 184 innings.

Related: Top Atlanta Braves targets in MLB free agency

Atlanta Braves interest in Sonny Gray makes sense

atlanta braves sign sonny gray
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Spencer Strider headlines things for Atlanta. He struck out 281 batters in 186.2 innings and is about as dominant as they get as an ace. The Braves re-signed veteran Charlie Morton earlier in free agency. They also boast Bryce Elder and Max Fried.

That leaves one spot open in the rotation. In reality, Gray would slide in behind Strider as the Braves’ No. 2 starter.

The question here is what it would cost to sign Gray. He could very well be looking at near the $24.5 million Nola is earning annually on his new contract. Though, it would come with a shorter-term pact.

Atlanta did save a good $6 million by moving off the likes of Nicky Lopez, Michael Soroka , Jared Shuster , Braden Shewmake and Riley Gowens in a trade with the Chicago White Sox last week. The team does have the ability to add someone of Gray’s ilk to its payroll. That’s for sure.