Off-Season in Review: NL East

Rob Carr

As Opening Day draws near, we take a look back at the off-season, breaking down each team's biggest additions, losses and injury concerns, division by division.

The Nationals and Braves are still the class of the division and both teams upped their game this off-season with some strong trades and signings. The Phillies added some new faces to help buoy the core of a team that won five straight NL East crowns. The Mets and Marlins took steps backward though, committing firmly to rebuilding by giving up top players

Atlanta Braves

Major Additions: Justin Upton, B.J. Upton, Jordan Walden, Gerald Laird

Key Departures: Martin Prado, Michael Bourn, David Ross, Randall Delgado, Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson

Significant Injuries: Paul Janish, Brian McCann, Jonny Venters

The Braves were one of the more aggressive teams this off-season after winning 94 games in 2012 but still losing the division to the Nationals. They signed B.J. Upton fairly early in the off-season, replacing free agent Michael Bourn in center with a younger player with more power. They added to their already deep bullpen by trading Tommy Hanson for reliever Jordan Walden. Then at the end of January the Braves made their biggest splash of the off-season, winning the off-season-long bidding for Justin Upton. Theygave up up two major league players in Martin Prado and Randall Delgado and three quality prospects to bring the Upton brothers together in what may be the best outfield in baseball. With an upgraded offense behind a cast of young and talented arms, the Braves are ready to battle the Nationals down to the wire.

Miami Marlins

Major Additions: Henderson Alvarez, Jeff Mathis, Juan Pierre, Casey Kotchman, Placido Polanco, Kevin Slowey, Chad Qualls, Jon Rauch

Key Departures: Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle,

Significant Injuries: Jeff Mathis, Logan Morrison

Once again, the Marlins sold off their entire core, gutting the team and the payroll in a move that many of the few remaining Marlins fans felt was a betrayal The move also drew some harsh criticism from some of the players shipped to north to Toronto. The Marlins didn’t trade away Reyes, Johnson, Buehrle and Bonificio for nothing, but the even the solid return they received was not enough to stop the wide-spread criticism. Miami got much younger and more cost-effective with this trade, but it will years before they can hope to compete again and the damage done to the fan base could take even longer to repair.

New York Mets

Major Additions: Shaun Marcum, Travis d’Arnaud, Marlon Byrd, Collin Cowgill

Key Departures: R.A. Dickey, Josh Thole, Andres Torres, Jason Bay

Significant Injuries: Johan Santana, Shaun Marcum

The Mets upset fans with their decision to shop R.A. Dickey after the two sides failed to reach terms on an extension for the NL Cy Young Award winner, but they managed a good deal for the knuckleballer in the swap with Toronto. Travis d’Arnaud is one of the top catching prospects in baseball and should help sure up the position in New York for the next few years and Noah Syndergaard should be major league ready around the time when top prospects Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler are taking their place at the front of the Mets rotation. The Mets were less successful in the quest to add a top outfielder, whiffing on both Justin Upton and Michael Bourn. Stop gap pitching solution Shaun Marcum will begin the season on the DL but the bigger injury issue is Johan Santana, who is likely gone for the year after re-injuring his surgically-repaired shoulder this spring. The Dickey trade added some talent to the rebuilding process, but the rest of the Mets off-season appears to be a bust. If there is reason for Mets fans to take heart it can be found in the eight year/$138M extension the team handed superstar David Wright.

Philadelphia Phillies

Major Additions: Michael Young, Ben Revere, Delmon Young, John Lannan, Mike Adams

Key Departures: Placido Polanco, Juan Pierre, Vance Worley, Chad Qualls

Significant Injuries: Delmon Young

For five straight seasons, the Phillies had been at the top of the NL East, but age caught up with them in 2012 and they dropped to third, played the part of sellers at the deadline and finished with an 81-81 record. This off-season they added center fielder Ben Revere in trade with the Twins, sending Minnesota Vance Worley and pitching prospect Trevor May. They gave up less to take Michael Young off the Rangers hands, but the 36 year old Young may not actually be an upgrade at all. GM Ruben Amaro brought in John Lannan to round out the rotation and added Mike Adams to bridge the gap between their talented rotation and closer Jonathan Papelbon, which was an major issue last season. For all these deals, however, the Phillies did not get much younger or add any real impact talent to the mix. If their veteran core can stay healthy and ward of the daemon Regression in 2013, they could be contenders, but given the strength of Washington and Atlanta is a distinct long shot.

Washington Nationals

Major Additions: Denard Span, Dan Haren, Rafael Soriano, AJ Cole

Key Departures: John Lannan, Tom Gorzelanny, Mike Morse

Significant Injuries: Christian Garcia

The Nationals are young, super-talented and coming off of a MLB-leading 98 wins in 2012, but GM Mike Rizzo was not content to just rest on this laurels. He signed free agent pitcher Dan Haren to fill out the team’s excellent starting rotation and added closer Rafael Soriano to a bullpen that already featured impressive depth and a number of solid options at closer. The biggest move came via trade, however. Rizzo sent top pitching prospect Alex Meyer to Minnesota for Denard Span, upgrading the team’s center field defense and adding a solid lead off hitter to the stacked Nationals lineup. The team is still very young and the organization’s depth is impressive. The off-season did little to change Washington’s status as one of the best teams in baseball. Even with the improvements Atlanta has made, Washington remains the favorite in the division after a strong off-season.

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