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Grading the First Half of the Offseason: NL East

The Mets are turning their organization around, while the rest of the division has been busy, too.

Japan v MLB All Stars - Game 6 Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

It’s the end of January. We are more than halfway through the offseason, and the biggest free agent stars (such as Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Dallas Keuchel, and Marwin Gonzalez) are still free agents.

Let’s check out and grade how every National League East team has done this offseason, listed in order of their 2018 regular season records.

Atlanta Braves: B+

2018 record: 90-72
The Braves had an impressive 2018, but the past is in the past and they need to prepare for the future. Unfortunately for Braves fans, the Braves haven’t done that a lot this offseason. They have made a couple moves, and remain engaged in negotiations with other teams and free agents, but the NL East is going to have much more competition this year. Their first trade of the offseason came when they acquired catcher Raffy Lopez from the San Diego Padres. Weeks later, they would trade away southpaws Ricardo Sanchez (to the Seattle Mariners) and Adam McCreery (to the Los Angeles Dodgers) in exchange for cash on both occasions. Meanwhile, the Braves made their first big splash when they signed third baseman Josh Donaldson, and then agreed to a deal with catcher Brian McCann moments later. They also signed outfielder Ryan LaMarre to a minor league deal and eventually invited him to spring training. (They also signed outfielder Rafael Ortega and infielders Andres Blanco and Pedro Florimon to similar deals.) The only other big move Atlanta has made was when they brought back Nick Markakis, who made a large impact to the NL East-winning Braves in 2018. It seems inevitable that the Braves will make at least one more big move or trade before spring training, as they have been linked to several stars, including catcher J.T. Realmuto and utilityman Marwin Gonzalez.

Washington Nationals: A+

2018 record: 82-80
The Nationals have had a terrific offseason. They have remained busy, and appear to be ready to challenge the reigning NL East champion Atlanta Braves. They kicked off their November with the signings of pitcher Trevor Rosenthal and catcher Kurt Suzuki before they quickly added another catcher by acquiring Yan Gomes from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for righty Jefry Rodriguez, outfielder Daniel Johnson, and infielder Andruw Montaserio. Later, they signed one of the best free agent pitchers in Patrick Corbin, and quickly followed that up by flipping righty Tanner Roark to the Cincinnati Reds for righty Tanner Rainey. Next, they inked a deal to bring back first baseman Matt Adams before bringing in righty Anibal Sanchez on a major league deal, too. Finally, Washington brought in Brian Dozier to solidify their infield. It’s worth noting that they did lose several players to free agency, including Bryce Harper, Kelvin Herrera, and Greg Holland. But Washington doesn’t appear to be done making moves, and even if they are, the strength of the several moves they have made already leads to the idea that the Nats have a legitimate chance to be playoff contenders this season.

Philadelphia Phillies: C+

2018 record: 80-82
The November chunk of the offseason was quiet for the Phillies, but that all changed in the month of December, which kicked off with the acquisition of infielder Jean Segura and pitchers Juan Nicasio and James Pazos from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for first baseman Carlos Santana and shortstop J.P. Crawford, as well as the trade that brought southpaw Jose Alvarez to Philly while righty Luis Garcia went to the Los Angeles Angels. Later, the Phillies would announce that infielder Gift Ngoepe, Andrew Romine, Gregorio Petit and Phil Gosselin, catchers Rob Brantly and Matt McBride, pitchers Josh Martin, Edward Paredes, and Jeremy Bleich, and outfielder Shane Robinson were all signed to minor league deals with big league camp invites. However, Philadelphia’s lone major league signing came when they agreed to a deal with free agent outfielder Andrew McCutchen, who had bounced around with the Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants, and New York Yankees over the course of a year. The Phillies have made a decent amount of moves if you count trades and minor league signings, but the fact that they publicly said they would be spending ‘stupid money’ and have only doled out one major league contract isn’t necessarily a good sign.

New York Mets: A-

2018 record: 77-85
The Brodie Van Wagenen-run New York Mets have been extremely busy. Perhaps even comically busy, if you consider how quiet other teams have been this offseason. While the majority of the offseason has been quiet, Van Wagenen has been wheeling, dealing, and signing, and somehow the Mets appear to be potential contenders in 2019. They didn’t make any big moves in November; however, they did add lefty Ryan O’Rourke and infielder Dilson Herrera on minors deals with invites to big league spring training, before later adding outfielders Rymer Liriano, Rajai Davis, and Gregor Blanco, and pitchers Hector Santiago, Luis Avilan, and Arquimedes Caminero to similar deals. New York made one trade in December, and it shook up Major League Baseball: they landed veteran second baseman Robinson Cano and dominant reliever Edwin Diaz, plus cash, from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for veteran outfielder Jay Bruce, as well as outfield prospect Jarred Kelenic and a trio of righties in Anthony Swarzak, Gerson Bautista and Justin Dunn. Weeks later, New York re-united with reliever Jeurys Familia and added catcher Wilson Ramos by way of big league contracts. January was only busier. Within 36 hours, the Mets made three separate trades. First, they acquired outfielder Keon Broxton from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for righties Adam Hill and Bobby Wahl, as well as infielder Felix Valerio. Next, they sent catcher Kevin Plawecki to the Cleveland Indians for minor-leaguers Walker Lockett and Sam Haggerty. Finally, they acquired infielders J.D. Davis and Cody Bohanek from the Houston Astros for a trio of minor leaguers in Luis Santana, Ross Adolph and Scott Manea. Also in January, the Mets have agreed to major league deals with infielder Jed Lowrie and reliever Justin Wilson.

Miami Marlins: D+

2018 record: 63-98
Oh, the rebuilding Miami Marlins. They have made more trades (2) than major league signings (0). Both of the small trades came in November, when they sent lefty Dillon Peters to the Angels for righty Tyler Stevens, and acquired righty Nick Anderson from the Minnesota Twins for infielder Brian Schales. Besides that, it’s been all minor-league signings with spring training invites for the Marlins. They’ve reached this agreement with many players, such as catchers Rodrigo Vigil, Bryan Holaday, and Santiago Chavez, infielders Deven Marrero, Pedro Alvarez, Jon Berti, and Dixon Machado, outfielders Harold Ramirez and Gabriel Guerrero, and pitchers Brian Moran, R.J. Alvarez, Mike Kickham, and Hector Noesi. However, the biggest news in Miami is about what the Marlins haven’t done, and that is trading J.T. Realmuto, their star catcher all alone on the rebuilding Miami Marlins.