While the Atlanta Braves have won the NL East division for five straight seasons, both the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies are doing their best to close the gap. The Mets and Phillies both made significant splashes at the Winter Meetings Monday landing two of the top free agents available.
After watching Jacob deGrom walk out the door for a five-year deal with the Rangers, the Mets pivoted and signed reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander to a two-year, $86.66 million deal that includes a $35 million option for 2025. The $43.33 million that Verlander will make annually is the same deal that the Mets gave to Max Scherzer last offseason.
Coming into the offseason, the Phillies were one of the favorites to land one of the big four shortstops that were available. Trea Turner’s name has come up the most in recent days and an agreement was reached Monday on a massive 11-year, $300 million deal.
The Braves to this point have been quiet which isn’t surprising. Atlanta entered the offseason with a question at shortstop where Dansby Swanson is a free agent. Alex Anthopoulos could also choose to address left field where there is uncertainty after a lost season for Eddie Rosario in 2022. One thing Anthopoulos won’t do is feel a need to react to big moves made by two of Atlanta’s division rivals.
Despite the question mark at shortstop, the Braves are still in good shape with a young core that is locked up long term. That doesn’t mean Atlanta should or will sit out the offseason, but it is a different situation.
One thing is certain, the NL East just got more interesting. Atlanta erased a 10.5 game deficit to win the division. The Braves and the Mets both won 101 games, but it was the Phillies who caught lightning in a bottle at the right time and made the World Series where they ultimately fell to the Astros.
There is still plenty of work to be done and a long way to go before Spring Training.