Actual baseball is looming, which means the offseason is nearing an end. Now, we can take a look and proudly declare who won or lost the offseason before actual baseball does it’s thing and makes us realize how foolish we were. For teams that appear to be attempting to contend, we’ll be looking at whether the moves they made should help them do so. For rebuilding teams, we’ll be looking at whether they are getting enough for the players they are trading away. And then there are the teams that don’t seem to know what they’re doing or otherwise don’t fit into either of those categories, but don’t worry, we’ll address them, too.
Today we’re covering the NL East, but, in case you missed the first four here there are:
The offseason in Atlanta was centered on a pair of trades that showed just how long of a game John Coppolella is playing. They kicked things off by shipping Andrelton Simmons to the Los Angeles Angels for Erick Aybar, Chris Ellis, Sean Newcomb and $2.5 million in cash considerations.
Aybar can fill the hole at shortstop while Ellis and Newcomb add to the depth of the farm system. There is no question that Simmons is a wizard defensively, but if the Braves aren’t going to win over the short-term there was no reason not to move him. Coppolella followed the same line of thinking when he shipped Shelby Miller to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a haul that included Dansby Swanson, the first overall pick last June.
If you wanted the Braves to improve their Major League roster in hopes of a playoff run, this was a hugely disappointing winter. If you were a bit more realistic, the offseason was a win. There are still some exciting young players on the roster -- Freddie Freeman and Julio Teheran -- to appease you as they position themselves for future contention with a fortified farm system and some very high draft picks.
The biggest splash the Marlins made was hiring Don Mattingly as manager and Barry Bonds as hitting coach. Other than that, Wei-Yin Chen’s five-year, $80 million deal was the only signification addition.
Believe it or not, that’s OK.
They have an exciting young core consisting of Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Fernandez, Dee Gordon and Christian Yelich with a number of other potential above-average contributors waiting in the wings (see: Ozuna, Marcell).
Some more offensive firepower, specifically over the infield, would have been nice for a team that scored fewer runs than every team but the Braves, but the core might need more marinating before veterans are sprinkled into the mix.
The Mets didn’t do a whole lot aside from trade for Neil Walker, re-sign Yoenis Cespedes and add Asdrubal Cabrera and Alejandro De Aza.
After riding their stellar starting rotation to the World Series, the Mets absolutely had to re-sign Cespedes, who lit Citi Field on fire upon coming over in a trade before regressing to the mean. Without Cespedes, the offense, which was 17th in all of baseball last season, might not have been strong enough even for New York’s staff to keep afloat once again.
Given the club’s recent financial woes opening up the checkbook for Cespedes is noteworthy. The contract itself allows short-term relief for both sides and Sandy Alderson’s hope is that guys like Michael Conforto (22), Wilmer Flores (24), Juan Lagares (26) and Travis d’Arnaud (27) will have strong enough offensive seasons to give New York another shot at a championship.
The ledger might seem a little lopsided with Ben Revere and Daniel Murphy coming in and Jordan Zimmermann leaving via free agency, but Mike Rizzo shuffled the bullpen and is counting on better returns from a talented roster that underachieved in 2015.
Revere replaces Denard Span in center. He’s more than four years younger and has shown more of an ability to remain healthy. Revere and Span had similar on-base percentages last season, but Washington’s new outfielder adds a different offensive wrinkle with speed. If he can get on base, he’ll be able to showcase his speed on the bases with Bryce Harper hitting behind him.
Washington may not get a lot of defense from Murphy, but it has become very obvious that he has the ability to catch fire at the plate over extended stretches.
Rizzo’s top priority was the bullpen as a safety net for what should still be a strong rotation. He did just that by shelling out $25 million in total for Shawn Kelley, Oliver Perez and Yusmeiro Petit. They traded disgruntled Drew Storen to the Toronto Blue Jays, but the deal netted them Revere and will help avoid controversy in a clubhouse that seems to manufacture it rather easily.
Ah, the Phillies. We’re putting each offseason in perspective (see Atlanta’s grade), which is why Philadelphia doesn’t receive an automatic fail. Buster Olney of ESPN has spent the last few weeks covering possible “tanking” in Major League Baseball with the Braves and Phillies at the forefront of the discussion.
Whatever you want to call what Ruben Amaro, Jr. finally consented to and what Matt Klentak will attempt to finish, it’s the right approach.
Not surprisingly, the Phillies didn’t spend much money in free agency. They bolstered their farm system through trade, acquiring four players now considered among their very best prospects throughout the industry. Specifically, Klentak received a nice haul for moving Ken Giles, who admittedly didn’t have to be moved this winter.
The biggest knock on Philadelphia’s winter is their inability to move Ryan Howard, who could be owed $48 million through the end of the 2017 season. Maybe he hits well over the first few months of the season and is traded for a hoagie, the latest The Roots album and a Julius Erving throwback jersey. Maybe not. Regardless, his future will remain the biggest question mark around the team for now.