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The Braves feel like the sleeping giant on the offseason market.
They’re fresh off an NL East title, have money to spend and have obvious holes to fill in right field, atop the starting rotation and at the back of the bullpen.
As it stands, they’ve already made a pair of excellent short-term additions in Josh Donaldson (1/$23M) and Brian McCann (1/$2M), which should add a veteran presence and some punch to the lineup. If Donaldson is back to 100 percent, he could be a transformative addition in the middle of the lineup. If not, third base prospect Austin Riley is expected to be ready by 2020 anyway.
Winning the Victor Mesa sweepstakes was a great start to the offseason for the Marlins. With that said, the success of their winter hinges almost entirely on what sort of return they secure for All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto.
Buster Olney of ESPN provided an update on the team’s mindset: “The sense among some other teams is that the Marlins have begun to push to make a Realmuto trade, which is a major change in their past approach. For a year, they set a very high price and challenged anyone to meet it, and waited. Now they seem to be looking to finish a deal.”
For now, the Mesa signing is enough to prop up their grade.
New York Mets
The Mets have been busy, but have they been productive?
The trade that brought Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz over from the Mariners cost them two of their top prospects in Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn, which effectively means they’re all-in on contending in 2019.
But if the season started today, the Mets wouldn’t be the favorites to win the NL East. They still have a lot of work to do between now and Opening Day, starting with shoring up the catcher position, and their interest in Realmuto has been widely reported.
In a bubble, the Cano/Diaz trade looks like an ill-advised move from a new general manager looking to make a splash. If they keep adding, it will make more sense and their final offseason grade will reflect as much.
Phillies owner John Middleton began the offseason by telling reporters: “We’re going into this expecting to spend money and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it. We just prefer not to be completely stupid.”
That led to speculation they might try to sign both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. While that could still happen, things have been relatively quiet on that front thus far. They did trade Carlos Santana to the Mariners in exchange for shortstop Jean Segura, and they have reportedly signed Andrew McCutchen (3/$50M, per Jon Heyman of Fancred), according to Matt Gelb of The Athletic.
However, they whiffed on signing Patrick Corbin when they were unwilling to go to a sixth year, which would seem to run counter to their “stupid spending” mentality. As a result, upgrading the rotation remains a need.
This is a critical offseason in the Phillies’ climb toward contention, and it will be scrutinized regardless of what moves they do and don’t make. Segura and McCutchen are a nice start, but they can do more.
It took $140 million over six years to get a deal done, but the Nationals essentially replaced Gio Gonzalez with Patrick Corbin in a rotation that should once again be one of the best in baseball.
If they’re ready to close the door on the Bryce Harper era, this is an excellent use of their available funds. Rising prospect Victor Robles now has a clear path to a starting job in the outfield, and the team can explore an extension with Anthony Rendon, who is a free agent next winter.
A catching platoon of Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki should also be a significant upgrade over a group that posted a brutal .214/.304/.320 line last season. Their $11.1 million combined salary is not much more than the $10.5 million that Matt Wieters earned last season while posting a 0.5 WAR in 76 games.