We are beginning to see by early NL East signals to look forward to what teams are doing. There is no doubt the Washington Nationals are going for it in 2018. The Miami Marlins are in full-sell mode. While the Phillies could add payroll this year, it appears they might not be looking to build this year. Rumors on the Phillies is they could trade top position players like Cesar Hernandez. Based on cashflow, no team has more free cash than the Phillies. The Braves just dumped Matt Adams and new GM Alex Anthropoulos has not showed much direction beyond that. For the Mets, they have said they are looking to improve further as they will once again rely on deGrom and Syndergaard and hope for the best with the rest of their players, but they still will need to fill holes in their infield and outfield.
The analysts see the Nationals as the strong favorite to three-peat as the winners of the NL East in 2018, and their way could be paved to an easier path if the other NL East teams don’t improve or in the case of the Marlins continue to sell-off their star players. Yesterday the Marlins officially traded off Dee Gordon who was one of their bright spots in the 2017 season. Further, it is no secret that the Marlins are desperately trying to trade the reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton.
In 2017, the Nationals won 97 games en route to the NL East crown. The Nats went 47-29 against the NL East last year. That was a .618 winning percentage which almost assured the Nats of success. The Nats have increased their winning ways by dominating the NL East. That has to be a goal of Dave Martinez‘s 2018 squad. Dominate the subpar teams and play at least .500 against the rest.
With the off-season being less than 45 days old, there is still over 2 full months to go in this off-season before we declare the shape of the NL East. After that, it is what teams will look like through Spring Training. The Nationals like all teams are dealing with some medical issues and most notably Daniel Murphy and Joe Ross. We expect Adam Eaton will enter spring training 100% healthy.
The Rest of the League
Last year, there were several surprises in the Wild Card races in both leagues. The Brewers, Diamondbacks and Rockies were greatly improved in the NL. In the AL, it was the Yankees and Twins who were the Wild Card teams. None of those teams were projected to make the postseason. This is why they play the games. No matter what happens, there are positive and negative surprises every year.
Just between yesterday and today, Fangraphs adjusted the Nationals and Cubs in the standings by one game each. The Winter Meetings and all subsequent moves will certainly change the projections.