Following two straight postseasons being bounced from the playoffs by the Philadelphia Phillies, the second-round-or-bust Atlanta Braves find themselves navigating this offseason like many other clubs trying to get better in 2024.
In a candid interview written by Jeff Schultz from The Athletic, Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos spoke about the National League East rival's offseason (subscription required) so far, including interest in recently re-signed Phillies ace Aaron Nola.
"We pursued Aaron Nola," explained Anthopoulos, per Schultz . "Beyond that, we’ve engaged clubs and inquired on trades. The starters who have been moved, and one specifically, we didn’t need to trade core players off our roster. "
Obviously, if the Braves were successful in landing Aaron Nola as a free agent, the move would have weakened the Phillies rotation and created a massive hole between Zach Wheeler and whoever Rob Thomson and Caleb Cotham view as the third starter in 2024. Nola re-signed for seven years and $172 million dollars earlier this offseason.
On getting eliminated by the Phillies for the second year in a row
"We weren’t the only team that had great players and didn’t get it done," added Anthopoulos. "I don’t want to take anything away from the Phillies. There’s no doubt we didn’t get the job done. But I’m very comfortable with our offense."
The four-game series was notable for a Game 2 base running blunder by Bryce Harper that resulted in a loss and some bulletin board material for the Phillies when Braves shortstop Orlando Arcia was overheard in the clubhouse repeating the now infamous phrase of "atta boy Harper!" The end result was an epic stare-down from Bryce Harper to Arcia as he rounded second base following a home run (twice) in Game 3.
The baseball equivalent of being put on a poster was born.
On following the moves of other division rivals in free agency
Asked if the Braves feel an obligation to make waves in free agency when other teams make big signings and if that influences the Atlanta Braves' overall agenda, Anthopoulos pointed to his own division rivals as recent examples of the ever-shifting roster landscape in a very competitive NL East.
"We’ve [Braves] been asked about that in the past when the Phillies and the Mets got some great players and we’ve gotten off to slow starts," added Anthopoulos per Schultz. "But what I’ve said was we need to play well ourselves. We focus on our roster, our team and our needs."
So far this offseason, the Atlanta Braves have lost out on key free agents like Aaron Nola and Shohei Ohtani, failed to reach a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays for Tyler Glasnow, but have made additions to their bullpen such as adding Aaron Bummer and Ray Kerr, and earlier this offseason added former top prospect Jared Kelenic in a five-player-trade with the Seattle Mariners.
With plenty of free agents still available, lets hope the Braves remain quiet this offseason.