Home MLB Offseason so far: NL East

Offseason so far: NL East

by Matt Smith

Our review of the offseason so far moves from the American League onto the National League, starting in the NL East division.

Atlanta Braves

In November, the Braves announced plans to move from Turner Field to a new ballpark 10 miles away, with the hope being that they’ll be in their new home for the 2017 season.

Frustratingly for Braves fans, that’s where the exciting news came to an end as the reigning NL East champs  done little to improve their roster, whilst seeing veterans Brian McCann (Yankees) and Tim Hudson (Giants) depart. Ryan Doumit and Gavin Floyd, the latter currently on the rehab trail from Tommy John surgery, are the main additions to a roster that still contains plenty of talent, but perhaps looks vulnerable to injuries or repeats of the poor form showed from B.J Upton and Dan Uggla last season.

Washington Nationals

Never mind two players, the Nationals received disappointing seasons from a whole host of their team last year as the pre-season favourites for a World Series appearance ended up never seriously competing for a playoff spot.

They’ll be looking for a bounceback in 2014 and have helped their cause by swinging a trade for starting pitcher Doug Fister. The Detroit Tigers had other options for their rotation that made Fister available and the Nationals were able to add him as a replacement for Dan Haren – who has moved to the Dodgers – for a surprisingly modest outlay.

Jerry Blevins has also been added to the bullpen in a trade with the Oakland A’s as Washington has so far kept out of the free agent market.  The biggest change at the club so far has been in the retirement of manager Davey Johnson and the appointment of Matt Williams. The former D-Backs coach will make his managerial debut this season and hopes will be high that it will be a winning one.

New York Mets

This offseason was always going to be difficult for the Mets after star young pitcher Matt Harvey underwent Tommy John surgery in October and will likely be missing for the whole 2014 campaign.

Not much could make up for such a blow and in the circumstances the free agent signings of pitcher Bartolo Colon and outfielder Curtis Granderson would be easy to overlook, but they are two decent additions that should work out well for the team. Chris Young may also be a good bet to bounce back from a disappointing year with Oakland.

Philadelphia Phillies

Ryne Sandberg looks set to begin his first full season as manager of the Phillies fielding a familiar roster. The likes of Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz (who re-signed this offseason on a three-year deal) are still on the team, but the back-to-back World Series appearances of 2008 and 2009 seem a long time ago and hoping for a sudden turnaround after an 89-loss season with an ageing roster may be asking for too much.

Alongside re-signing Ruiz, the main addition so far has been acquiring 36-year-old outfielder Marlon Byrd. Roy Halladay has retired after a painful final season, but the presence of Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels does at least offer some hope that a surprising return to form by a veteran or two may be turned into something close to a Wild Card push. Without further additions, that seems to be the extent of their expectations for 2014.

Miami Marlins

As for the Marlins, it’s been nowhere near as dramatic as their last two offseasons: a free-agent cash splash in 11/12 and then a trade-away-anything-that-moves 12/13.

They’ve building up again with some good young talent, not least the NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez and the much-sought-after slugger Giancarlo Stanton. This offseason has been spent adding some established Major Leaguers to the mix, in the form of Jarrod Saltalamacchia (fresh from helping the Red Sox win a World Series), Garrett Jones, Casey McGhee and the returning Rafael Furcal who missed all of 2013 through injury.

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