Thursday, April 6, 2017

2017 MLB Preview: NL East

[This is part 4 of our series. We've already covered the AL East, Central and West]

EAST DIVISION



1. Washington Nationals



Key Acquisitions: RP Joe BlantonC Matt Wieters1B Adam LindOF Adam Eaton

Key Losses: None

Outlook: Any team with a healthy Bryce Harper is going to be very good, and while the Nationals depth isn't ideal they have several star players that should allow them to reign supreme in the NL East this season. The Nationals were expected to spend big on a closer this offseason, but when the market for closers exploded, the team chose to sign Joe Blanton for a much better value. Wieters and Lind are solid veteran depth, while Eaton is one of the most underrated players in all of baseball. If they can remain healthy all season, they should cruise to an NL East title.

2. New York Mets



Key Acquisitions: None

Key Losses: SP Bartolo Colon

Outlook: With the team operating near it's payroll maximum, it was a very quiet off-season for Mets fans. The team brought back Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker, which would have been huge losses, but the salaries they commanded forced the team to part ways with Bartolo Colon. While the Mets rotation is very talented and capable of performing well without Colon, early injuries to their starting rotation likely has them wishing they had found a way to keep Bartolo. They appear to be a tier below Washington at this point, but that's why they play the games.




Key Acquisitions: SP Bartolo ColonSP RA DickeySP Jaime GarciaC Kurt Suzuki2B Brandon PhillipsIF Sean Rodriguez

Key Losses: None

Outlook: The Braves had a busy off-season as they tried to fill several holes with capable veterans for their inaugural season in their new ballpark, Suntrust Park. The team let several unproductive veterans go, opening the door for the team to sign and trade for who they did. After signing infielder Sean Rodriguez, he was injured in a car accident and may not play at all this season. That injury led to the team acquiring Brandon Phillips, who is a shell of his former self but brings some personality if nothing else. Colon, Dickey and Garcia will try to improve the team's starting rotation, but with defensive black hole Kurt Suzuki behind the plate, the pitchers will have their work cut out for them. With one of the game's top farm systems, years of contention seem right on the cusp, although it's likely a season away at least.




Key Acquisitions: SP Edinson VolquezRP Brad ZieglerRP Junichi Tazawa

Key Losses: RP Mike Dunn

Outlook: The Marlins went out and signed some solid veteran pitchers to fill out their staff, and while Mike Dunn has been a great reliever over the years, Ziegler and Tazawa are more than capable of performing in his place. Edinson Volquez is no longer the top tier starter he once was, but he's been solid the last few years and brings plenty of value. With an offense that should keep them in a lot of games, an improved pitching staff could make the Marlins a surprise contender this season if they can remain healthy.




Key Acquisitions: SP Clay BuchholzRP Pat NeshekRP Joaquin Benoit2B Howie KendrickOF Michael Saunders

Key Losses: 1B Ryan Howard

Outlook: Losing Ryan Howard won't hurt the team at all on the field, as his production has slipped considerably over the last few years. However, he's been the face of the franchise for over a decade and any Phillies team without Howard on it is going to take some getting used to. The Phillies added a handful of veterans that should make them a more competitive team, but they still appear to be the worst team in the East. With most of their offseason acquisitions on one year deals, several of these players could be playing elsewhere come July.