Meet the divisional rivals: Recapping the offseasons for the N.L. East
The Nationals don’t have a high chance to win the division, but is it possible? There’s no question that a lot of things have to break in the Nats favor and the odds are very low. Today I recap the offseason for each of the Nationals’ division rivals.
MLB is implementing a new scheduling system, with more interleague games and less divisional games, and each team will face all teams in the MLB in the regular season. As a result each divisional game will be slightly more meaningful. With that being said, let’s recap the offseason for the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlin
2022 record: 101-61
Key Losses: SS Dansby Swanson, C/DH William Contreras, RHP Kenley Jansen, RHP Jake Odorizzi, LHP Kyle Muller
Key Acquisitions: C Sean Murphy, RHP Joe Jiménez, LHP Lucas Luetge, OF Sam Hilliard, OF Jordan Luplow, LHP Kolby Allard, RHP Nick Anderson
NL Champion Odds: +425
The Braves have been dominant over the last five years, winning 58.1% of their games, and they have no sign of slowing down. This past offseason, they added to their elite lineup which already includes Matt Olson, Austin Riley, Ozzie Albies, and Ronald Acuna Jr.
The Braves have won the N.L. East for the past five seasons and will continue to be a force in the division. During the offseason, Atlanta didn’t sign many big-name free agents and relied on several trades to acquire talent. Braves fans also said their goodbyes to all-star shortstop Dansby Swanson. Swanson was a consistent threat and won the Gold Glove in 2022. 22-year-old Vaughn Grissom should take over as the starter at shortstop. However, the most significant offseason trade came when President of Baseball Operations, Alex Anthopoulos assembled a blockbuster trade, which rewarded the Braves with catcher Sean Murphy. The former Gold Glover hit 18 home runs and 66 RBIs for the Athletics last year, with a .426 slugging percentage. In 2021, Murphy finished fourth in the A.L. Rookie of the year award voting.
Anthopoulos spoke on the trade saying, “It’s just a rare opportunity to get a premium defensive player at a premium position. We gave up a lot of talented guys that we liked. But we look at Sean and how he fits with this core and this group, and it’s a really good fit.”
This offseason Atlanta traded away their number 1 ranked prospect LHP Kyle Muller, number six ranked prospect RHP Freddy Tarnok, and their number 18th ranked prospect RHP Royber Salinas along with veteran catcher William Contreras. The defensive aspect of the trade shook heads as Contreras has been a critical component in their recent success.
The Braves also saw closer Kenley Jensen leave to sign with Boston. However, the bullpen should still be one of the team’s strengths. In addition, Atlanta traded for Joe Jiménez, who should take on a similar role that Jensen saw last season. The Braves have a real chance to win the division for the sixth time in a row.
Record prediction: 102-60
New York Mets
2022 record: 101-61
Key Losses: RHP Jacob deGrom, RHP Chris Bassitt, RHP Taijuan Walker, RHP Seth Lugo, RHP Trevor Williams, C James McCann
Key Acquisitions: RHP Justin Verlander, RHP Kodai Senga, LHP Jose Quintana, RHP David Robertson, LHP Brooks Raley, C Omar Narvaez, OF Tommy Pham, OF Brandon Nimmo, RHP Edwin Diaz, RHP Adam Ottavino
N.L. Champion Odds: +396
The Mets had quite the offseason, first losing franchise player Jacob deGrom, but they replaced him when they acquired World Series Champion starter, Justin Verlander. Next, New York had a chance to make a monster deal with shortstop Carlos Correa, but Correa failed a physical, and the contract fell through. However, with all of those moving pieces, the Mets arguably had the best offseason in the N.L. East. Although deGrom left, they got the reigning A.L. Cy Young winner, Justin Verlander. The 40-year-old will join former National Max Scherzer, forming one of the best duos in all of sports.
Mets owner Steve Cohen took care of business, re-signing key free agents Brandon Nimmo, Edwin Diaz, and Adam Ottavino. Meanwhile, the Mets’ payroll is projected to be $468.5M, more than $150M larger than the Yankees’ payroll
Last season, New York had one of the best bullpens in baseball, as they ranked 10th in ERA (3.55) and second in strikeout rate (27.6%). Edwin Diaz is primarily to thank for the bullpen performance. Last season, he had a 50.2% strikeout rate and a 7.7% walk rate. Diaz was arguably the best reliever in baseball, and re-signing him was a huge step. The reliever signed a five-year, $102M deal, keeping him around long-term. Former Yankees closer David Robertson also joined the Mets, signing a one-year, $10M contract. Although the Mets kept Diaz and signed Robertson, they lost several key relievers.
Next up was a potential under-the-radar signing, as New York brought in a reliable veteran starting pitcher José Quintana. Quintana agreed to a two-year, $26 million to come in and serve as a much-needed bottom-of-the-rotation fixture. New York also made a relatively cheaper signing by bringing in potential set-up man David Robertson, who was signed to a one-year, $10-million deal. Those moves are vital, given the Mets legitimately lost almost every key contributor from last year’s bullpen outside two individuals (Díaz and Drew Smith).
However, the most significant move of the offseason was acquiring Japanese superstar pitcher Kodai Senga. Senga impressed many in Japan, playing 11 seasons with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. The 30-year-old pitched 1,340 innings posting a 2.45 ERA and won 104 games.. He is known for a “ghost” pitch that compliments his triple-digit fastball.
The Mets don’t have any holes in their lineup heading into the 2023 season. They improved their bullpen and improved their starters while keeping vital free agents.
Record prediction: 100-62
2022 record: 87-75
Key Losses: RHP Zach Eflin, 2B Jean Segura, OF Matt Vierling, RHP David Robertson, RHP Noah Syndergaard
Key Acquisitions:: SS Trea Turner, RHP Taijuan Walker, RHP Craig Kimbrel, LHP Gregory Soto, LHP Matt Strahm, IF Josh Harrison
N.L. Champion Odds: +744
The Phillies are reigning National League champions and acquired more talent over the offseason. Some say Phillies President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski, had the most aggressive offseason. Philadelphia signed all-star shortstop Trea Turner, starter Taijuan Walker, and relievers Craig Kimbrel and Gregory Soto. But after a disappointing end to the season, the Phillies’ front office showed they aren’t playing around.
Last season the Phillies started out shaky but got hot at the right time due to the hitting of Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, and J.T. Realmuto. Although Harper only appeared in 99 regular season games, he was productive. Similar to the rest of the N.L. East, the Phillies, had a solid bullpen who were reliable enough to shut down games. However, their starting rotation was inconsistent and prone to injury. The rotation was led by Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler, although Wheeler dealt with injuries during the second half of the season. In total, Wheeler would complete 153 innings with 163 strikeouts and a 2.82 ERA. Meanwhile, Nola pitched 205 innings, throwing 235 strikeouts and posting a 3.25 ERA. Moving on to the bullpen, Jose Alvarado was the most productive but struggled early in the season. As a result, Alvarado was sent down to Triple-A, but after being brought back up, he led the Phillies bullpen in most stats and posted a 1.66 ERA.
So, after coming up just short of a Championship, the Phillies spent big and didn’t disappoint. After the end-of-season presser, Dave Dombrowski noted they would target a shortstop, and soon after, they signed Trea Turner. There were rumors before the trade deadline that the Phillies would acquire Turner, but talks fell through. Nevertheless, Turner is the perfect fit for the Phillies; last season in Los Angeles, Turner hit .298/.353/.466 and a 121 OPS+. Turner also used his dynamic speed to steal 27 bases, and the all-star should see himself batting leadoff.
Meanwhile, Taijuan Walker will be a great reinforcement as Philadelphia lost Noah Syndergaard and Kyle Gibson in the offseason. Last season with the Mets, Walker pitched 157.1 innings with 29 starts, posting a 3.49 ERA. Walker should be the fourth starter. The Phillies could look to both Soto and Kimbrel for the closing spot as he’s shown he’s capable of late-game success with 48 saves over the last two seasons. Kimbrel could also be the closer as he is a veteran and is seventh on the all-time-saves list (394).
Philadelphia spent $425M in free agency and remain in contention for a championship. The Phillies have depth and pitching, the two keys to success, although is it enough to fight with the Mets and Braves for a division title?
Record prediction: 99-63
2022 record: 69-93
Key Losses: RHP Pablo Lopez, SS Miguel Rojas, 3B Brian Anderson, OF JJ Bleday
Key Acquisitions: 2B/1B Luis Arraez, IF Jean Segura, RHP Johnny Cueto, RHP JT Chargois, RHP Matt Barnes, SS Jacob Amaya, LHP A.J. Puk
N.L. Champion Odds: +4200
While every other divisional team signed free agents and improved their team, not much can be said about the Miami Marlins. Miami made a few trades during the early part of the offseason, acquiring some low-name prospects and making one big move. Miami traded away Pablo Lopez to the Twins in exchange for young all-star third baseman Luis Arraez. The moves confirm the Marlins organization has faith in their pitchers Sandy Alcántara and Trevor Rogers. However, several pitchers need to prove themselves this year; the clock is ticking for Edward Cabrera, Max Meyer, Sixto Sánchez, and free agent acquiree Johnny Cueto. The Miami pitching staff should be reliable, but they need good outings from their start.
In terms of position players, noteworthy changes are expected throughout the diamond. MLB The Show Cover Athlete Jazz Chisholm Jr. is moving to the outfield, with free agent Jean Segura expected to slide in to be the everyday shortstop in his place. Jazz joins a group of outfielders in Miami, including Bryan De La Cruz, Avisail Garcia, and Jesús Sánchez, with Jorge Soler expecting to be the D.H. There are minor tweaks in the infield, with Luis Arraez from Minnesota playing second and Segura playing shortstop. In addition, Joey Wendle will take third base, Garrett Cooper will take first, and Jacob Stallings will remain the everyday catcher.
The Marlins will be fighting for fourth place with the Nationals, and although the Marlins’ future is bright, they won’t have a winning season this year.
Record prediction: 66-96