Some NL East teams have been...more aggressive than others so far.
With the MLB offseason around its midway point, it's a good time to see where teams are at heading into 2023. Here are my thoughts on each team in the NL East.
Atlanta Braves PG Score: 9.5/10
I am not sure if the Braves will ever stop making moves that will leave you asking, “How do they do it?” The Braves put together a steal by acquiring young catcher Sean Murphy from the Oakland Athletics in a three-team trade. But it does not stop there, as they also locked him up on 6-year extension totaling out at…73 million dollars. This extension includes a 7th year club-option that would raise the total of the contract to 88 million dollars. The Braves' young, talented core are locked up to be a top 5 team in the league for many years to come, and the addition of a top 10, maybe even top 5, catcher is just another piece for a team that already has made deep, consistent playoff runs.
The move I would like for them to make? The Braves seem to consistently lock up their highest performing players on low-cost deals, and Michael Wacha is just that. A low-cost starter who could fit in perfectly as a swing-man in this staff, working in a long-relief/6th starter role that the veteran quite honestly deserves after a good 2022 season. Although the underlying stats say he overperformed and he's had a multitude of injuries, a swing-man role gives him more rest and adds a veteran with playoff experience to a young pitching staff that already has some playoff experience of its own. I feel like Wacha and the Braves are a match made in heaven.
Overall, the Braves deserve the A for not only trading for a top player at his position, but also tacking on a cheap extension. All while preserving their farm. This team runs deep and will likely continue that trend for many years to come.
Miami Marlins PG Score: 6.75/10
Time to absolutely obliterate my favorite team. Where do I even start? I actually like all of the moves the Marlins have made, such as picking up Xavier Edwards and Jake Mangum, but these are pieces that a team on the brink of completion would be picking up, not a team that should be focused on rebuilding their offense as a whole, as they were arguably one of the worst offensive teams in MLB history in 2022. The only reason that they secured the a passing grade is the Jean Segura signing. This team has to truly put together a huge deal in order to win this offseason, and if that deal is not made, this offseason falls from a 6.75/10 to a complete failure.
So what deal should they make? They have to trade Pablo Lopez. This team has pitching depth that goes down deep into A-ball. There is absolutely no reason that Lopez, at peak trade value, should be on the Opening Day roster for the Miami Marlins. Whether he is packaged up in a deal for Bryan Reynolds or sent to Baltimore for a miracle deal for Cedric Mullins, the Marlins have no excuse for retaining Lopez.
The Marlins front office is failing the fan base, or what is left of the fan base, by assuming this joke of a product they put on the field is going to satisfy anything. It seems to be a spit in the face year in and year out, and not being able to offer a couple extra million to free agents such as Justin Turner or Brandon Drury, who were not even in the marquee class of free agents, is an absolute embarrassment and should tell the entire league what they already know; this team has no winning culture.
New York Mets PG Score: 9.5/10?
The New York Mets have been very active throughout the 2022-’23 offseason. Although they lost Jacob deGrom, Chris Bassitt, and Taijuan Walker, they added Hall of Famer, World Series champ, and reigning Cy Young-winner Justin Verlander, Jose Quintana, who is coming off a solid season with the Pirates and Cardinals, Kodai Senga, who has high expectations transferring over from Japan, and maybe Carlos Correa? Correa originally agreed to a deal with the San Francisco Giants, which ended up falling through due to a failed physical, after which he quickly turned to the Mets…where he ran into another problem with the physical. If the Mets and Correa cannot renegotiate and figure this situation out, then this offseason becomes a B, as they basically traded deGrom out for Verlander, which right now is still an upgrade. Verlander is much more consistent with on-field production than deGrom.
What move could they have made? None. A lot of credit to Steve Cohen for gunning for a ring as soon as possible. If there was a deal out there that Cohen really felt like he needed for this team, including the deGrom deal, he would have made it. Good offseason for the Mets.
Philadelphia Phillies PG Score: 8.75/10
Dave Dombrowski and the Philadelphia Phillies are coming off their first playoff appearance in over a decade and first World Series appearance since 2009. Picking up one of the top 3 free agents available, Trea Turner, is a good get for a team that was a merry-go-round with their middle infield in 2022. I have heard a few people say that they overpaid for Turner’s services. However, between him and Bryson Stott, their middle infield is actually cheaper on Opening Day 2023 than it was on Opening Day 2022.
In fact, I really appreciate that the Phillies had such a deep postseason run and still went and added a marquee free agent like Turner, as their division is so deep. The only reason I graded them out at an 8.75 rather than a 9 or higher is because of something they had no control over in Bryce Harper's Tommy John Surgery, which will force him to miss the first month or two of 2023. Harper is arguably becoming the first example of a “mega-deal” that has been worth it, and his absence at the beginning of the season could really hurt this Phillies team if they do not perform without him.
Washington Nationals PG Score: 7.5/10
Similar to the Reds, I wish I could count what the Nationals did at the 2022 Trade Deadline, as they received a haul for star-outfielder Juan Soto. The Nationals are building out their weakest link over recent years: the farm system. Unfortunately, they do not really have any capital to obtain more prospects throughout this offseason, and likely will have to wait until the 2023 Trade Deadline to make any more major moves to improve this team.
I will give credit where credit is due; the Nationals truly have a direction and have built what will likely be an amazing young core by trading Trea Turner, Max Scherzer, and Juan Soto for a couple of crazy hauls from great farm systems. What can they do now? Simply sell the team. Rumors swirled during the 2022 season that the longtime owners, the Lerner family, is looking to sell. A new regime may be just what this team needs to leave the rebuilding state and become a contender, like they were throughout the 2010’s.
I am excited to see what this team will be in the late 2020’s, but until then, they are going to be hard to watch. They need to look at what their division rivals, the Atlanta Braves, are doing and build a similar concept in locking all these young, future stars up to long-term deals at a slightly cheaper price.