Free agency doesn't tend to get crazy until the Winter Meetings, which will take place at the start of December, but there's already been some movement in the market.
On Sunday the Philadelphia Phillies got the ball rolling in the pitching market by re-signing ace Aaron Nola to a massive seven-year, $172 million contract. Nola wasn't the top free agent on the market but he was among the best pitching options that teams were hoping to get a crack at adding to their rotation.
Nola was the clear winner of his own deal, but he wasn’t the only pitcher who came out of it sitting pretty. Sonny Gray’s value just went up, and the number of teams lining up to offer him a contract continues to get longer.
With Nola off the market, and the Phillies likely out on pursuing him, another NL contender has moved to the front of the line.
Braves are among 'top suitors' for Sonny Gray after losing out on Aaron Nola
According to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, the Atlanta Braves are now a top suitor for Gray. There’s a chance that Philly gets involved again, but they also reportedly still have their sites set on Japanese sensation Yoshinobu Yamamoto which would further push them away from a pursuit of Gray.
Nola’s deal does more than just shuffle the line of teams looking to offer him a deal this winter, it potentially moves the needle on the final figure that will be on the contract he signs. Right now the Twins are hoping he stays within their price range, which is even tougher with the team slashing its payroll by around $20 million.
Gray rejected a $20.3 million qualifying offer earlier this month, not because he doesn’t want to return to Minnesota but because he can secure a much larger bag in free agency. He’s projected to earn at least $60 million and that could push into seven figures based on the type of bidding war he creates.
Atlanta just watched the team that knocked it out of the postseason sign a top pitcher on the market, which is a move that will likely need to be countered. Teams like the Giants, Red Sox, and Dodgers all made sense as destinations too — all teams with money to spend.
If Nola secures $172 million, which is about $24 million AAV, the sticker price on Gray likely goes up.