Spring Notes: Can The Chops Stay At The Top?

In 2023 the National League East was a tough division to play thanks to the Atlanta Braves getting back to their top-notch type of play and the Mets spending a billion dollars on free agents after 2022. Let’s take a look at where all these teams are after a slow off season around the league that has many free agents still looking for a home a few days before opening day.

Atlanta Braves

Expectations are very high for the Braves to make the playoffs again after being the best team in the league last year winning 104 games. However, they did not make it all way to the World Series losing to the Phillies in the National League Division Series. Event the best teams have holes. So, after winning only one game in the Division Series the Braves wasted no time making roster moves and stayed busy until spring training camp opened.

In November they made a trade with the Chicago White Sox for Relief Pitcher Aaron Bummer and signed Starting Pitcher Reynaldo Lopez. Then in December at the Winter Meetings they kept playing trading spaces with a couple other teams trading for Starting Pitchers Chris Sale as well as Outfielder Jarred Kelenic. They also signed free agent Relief Pitcher Angel Perdomo in December. In the first week of the year they went out and capped off their major league moves by signing free agent Third Baseman Luis Guillorme.

For a team that was already tough to beat in 2023 this seems like the right turnover for their roster. So, let’s take a quick look at how these guys made the cut out of spring training. On defense, Kelenic will be the starting Left Fielder and also a backup in Center Field. Chris Sale and Reynaldo Lopez both made the rotation as expected. That leaves Guillorme who will backup in the middle infield and Perdomo and Bummer who will both pitch in relief as expected.

These are all solid upgrades for the Braves when we consider the fact that most teams will have some turn over on their roster in the off season due to players opting for free agency.

Philadelphia Phillies

Let’s take a look at the six moves the Phillies made to shore up their team this off season.

They started the winter off trading for Relief Pitcher Michael Mercado. They would then go out and sign starting pitchers Aaron Nola, Kolby Allard, and Spencer Turnbull as well as Second Baseman Whit Merrifield. Then right before Spring Training they traded for Relief Pitcher Michael Rucker and they capped off their off season moves by signing Relief Pitcher Matt Strahm a few days ago.

These are all wonderful moves for the Phillies who had pitching problems throughout last season. However, while most of the pitchers made the opening day roster Allard and Turnbull did not and Merrifield will be their backup at Second Base as expected.

Miami Marlins

The Marlins were basically silent in the free agent market signing only Shortstop Tim Anderson. However, they were very busy on the trade market. So, let’s take a look at their trades and see how the players they brought in made the cut for the opening day roster.

They traded for Relief Pitchers Calvin Faucher and Darren McCaughan, Second Baseman Vidal Brujan, Catcher Christian Bethancourt, Starting Pitcher Roddery Munoz, Third Baseman Jonah Bride, and Center Fielder Nick Gordon. Anderson will, of course, be their starting Shortstop. Faucher will pitch out of the pen as expected. Other then them Gordon and Bethancourt made team as backups.

For the Marlins who were not expected to do much last year I’d say these moves will potentially keep them in the middle of the pack again this year.

New York Mets

Much like the 2022 off season the Mets were busy from the onset. They signed eleven free agents and made five trades. Let’s look at the highlights of their moves by only looking at who made the opening day roster.

They traded for Yohan Ramirez who will pitch in relief as expected and Tyrone Taylor who will back up in the outfield as expected. They also signed, Shortstop Joey Wendle, starting Center Fielder Harrison Bader, Designated Hitter JD Martinez, and Starting Pitcher Luis Severino as well as Relief Pitchers Michael Tonkin, Jorge Lopez, Adam Ottavino, and Jake Diekman.

The Mets had a lot of problems injuries in 2023 and tried to shore up the team at the deadline but ended up falling apart in September. With these moves there is still a solid change they fall short of a .500 record by three or four games this year which would unfortunately mean they miss the playoffs again.

Washington Nationals 

As basement dwellers in 2023 you’d think the Nationals would have been busier this winter. However, they were quite silent making only three moves in free agency. As a result, there is not much to say here.

Here’s the thing folks: The NL East will be a tough division to beat again because the Braves are expected to win 95-100 games again. That said, when comparing the roster moves the Mets and Phillies made it is hard to tell which one will get to the playoffs and it is possible neither one does.

With that…. we are only four days away from opening day!

If you cannot play with them, then root for them.

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