Welcome to theScore’s MLB offseason team needs, in which we’ll break down every club’s roster and its key free agents, along with how holes could be filled in free agency. Up next is the NL East.
AL EAST I NL EAST I AL CENTRAL I NL CENTRAL I AL WEST I NL WEST
2018 Record: 90-72 (1st)
Projected 2019 Payroll: $79.5M
Key free agents: Nick Markakis, Brad Brach, Kurt Suzuki, Anibal Sanchez
Team needs: Outfielder, third baseman, catcher, relief pitcher
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The Braves reached the postseason for the first time since 2013, winning the NL East after a surprisingly consistent campaign. They don’t have too many holes but could stand to upgrade in the outfield and relegate Duvall to pinch-hitting duties. While Bryce Harper is on the open market, the Braves will probably aim cheaper and have already been linked to Michael Brantley as a possible replacement for Nick Markakis. With general manager Alex Anthopolous in place and relatively little money on the books entering arbitration, perhaps a reunion with Josh Donaldson from their Blue Jays days is in the cards.
2018 Record: 63-98 (5th)
Projected 2019 Payroll: $78M
Key free agents: None
Team needs: Starting pitcher, middle infielder, first baseman, outfielder
The rebuild is on, but that doesn’t mean the Marlins can’t lay the foundation for a bright future. They have come up as darkhorse contenders for Manny Machado, which would help on the field and potentially boost ticket sales. Other than a Machado signing, we don’t anticipate a lot of spending on free agents. Instead, the Marlins will likely pursue trade partners for the likes of Castro and Chen, though the latter will be nearly impossible to move with two years and $42 million remaining on his deal. Realmuto could also be on the move, and he wants out, but the Marlins don’t have to do anything with him if the offer isn’t up to their expectations, as he’s under team control for two more seasons.
New York Mets
2018 Record: 77-85 (4th)
Projected 2019 Payroll: $144M
Key free agents: Devin Mesoraco, Jose Reyes, AJ Ramos
Team needs: Catcher, closer, corner infielder
On paper, this Mets team doesn’t look that far away from being competitive, and that’s not even taking into account that Yoenis Cespedes will return at some point next season. Their need for a new backstop makes them an ideal trade partner with the Marlins for Realmuto or a potential landing spot for free agents such as Wilson Ramos, Yasmani Grandal, or Jonathan Lucroy. They do have a ton of money locked up already, but spending on a big-name reliever like Craig Kimbrel or Andrew Miller wouldn’t be too surprising after dealing away Jeurys Familia (also a free agent) last summer.
2018 Record: 80-82 (3rd)
Projected 2019 Payroll: $114.7M
Key free agents: Wilson Ramos, Jose Bautista, Asdrubal Cabrera
Team needs: Outfielder, left-handed starting pitcher, third baseman or shortstop
The favorites to land Harper or Machado (or both!) appear ready to make a big splash and return to October with a vengeance. Over the last several years, the Phillies have cultivated a lot of young talent, and some would have to move should either signing come to fruition. But in addition to adding a big bat or two and making the requisite moves to create room (like trading first baseman Carlos Santana, as has been rumored), the rotation could use a lefty to shake things up.
2018 Record: 82-80 (2nd)
Projected 2019 Payroll: $168M
Key free agents: Bryce Harper, Matt Wieters, Kelvin Herrera, Mark Reynolds, Greg Holland
Team needs: Catcher, first baseman, second baseman, left-handed starting pitcher
Of course, losing Harper is the biggest news facing the Nationals, but they don’t really need him with Eaton, Soto, and Robles in the fold – unless he did convert into a first baseman, but the money required to re-sign him seems prohibitive at that position. Like the Phillies, a left-handed starter would slide nicely into the middle of the rotation (such as J.A. Happ) and signing a second baseman to turn Kendrick into a roving utility bat would be the right move, too. Carter Kieboom, their top infield prospect, could be nearing a promotion by the end of the season, though, so a long-term commitment at the keystone wouldn’t be prudent.