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Sizing up the NL East heading into 2024

The Braves have won six straight NL East titles and still look like the cream of the division’s crop

Division Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves - Game Two Photo by Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves have done most of their heavy lifting this offseason, but there are still some key players available and moves left to be made around Major League Baseball as the calendar plunges into January. The Braves themselves have just 35 players on their 40-man roster currently and still need to round things out on the position player side. Even with those 40-man holes, though, they have been one of the more active teams in the league, and especially in the NL East. The biggest move made by an NL East team was the Phillies giving Aaron Nola a seven-year, $172 million deal to retain his services going forward after the hurler hit free agency. The Braves reportedly played a part in that particular drama, as they were one of the other teams that was chasing Nola. Both the Phillies and the Mets reportedly made offers to free agent import Yoshinobu Yamamoto, but he signed a 12-year, $325 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Below is a look at where things stand for each NL East club along with some thoughts on what else they might do between now and Opening Day.

Atlanta Braves

  • Re-signed Pierce Johnson
  • Re-signed Joe Jimenez
  • Traded for Aaron Bummer
  • Signed Reynaldo López
  • Signed Penn Murfee
  • Traded for Jarred Kelenic
  • Traded for David Fletcher
  • Traded for Ray Kerr
  • Traded for Chris Sale

While the trades for Jarred Kelenic and Chris Sale generated the biggest headlines, the Braves have been busy this winter fortifying their bullpen. Atlanta re-signed Pierce Johnson and Joe Jimenez before free agency began. They traded for lefties Aaron Bummer and Ray Kerr, and also inked hard-throwing righty Reynaldo López to a three-year deal. Lopez will presumably compete for a spot in the rotation during Spring Training, but could also see some time as a reliever.

The Braves need to add a few position players to the mix and fill out their bench between now and Opening Day. The Dodgers might have added both Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto this offseason, but it is Atlanta that is at the top of the current Fangraphs Depth Charts right now (and not by a small margin, either) — and that doesn’t seem likely to change, even when ZiPS is added to them to join the current Steamer-based forecasts.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • Acquired Michael Mercado
  • Acquired Hendry Mendez
  • Acquired Robert Moore
  • Re-signed Aaron Nola

The only meaningful move that the Phillies have made this offseason was keeping Nola. They chased Yamamoto, but have reportedly also been focused on pursuing an extension with Zack Wheeler, who will be a free agent after the 2024 season. Philadelphia may still have another big move left in them, but they are in better shape than the rest of the teams in the division. Their one big loss was Craig Kimbrel in free agency, but they have the bullpen depth to replace him internally. Philadelphia is currently sixth in FanGraphs’ WAR projections for next season.

The Phillies look like they could use some help in the outfield (especially in the corners) and might benefit from figuring out whether they can shore up or move on from Alec Bohm’s shortcomings at third base. Their challenge is that they don’t seem that likely to move on from, say, Nick Castellanos, Brandon Marsh, and/or Bohm, so they’ll really be relying on what looks like it could easily be the league’s best top-to-bottom pitching staff to get them through the season.

New York Mets

  • Claimed Zack Short
  • Signed Luis Severino
  • Signed Joey Wendle
  • Signed Austin Adams
  • Claimed Cooper Hummel
  • Claimed Tyler Heineman
  • Signed Michael Tonkin
  • Acquired Ryan Ammons
  • Signed Jorge Lopez
  • Acquired Yohan Ramirez
  • Acquired Adrian Houser
  • Acquired Tyrone Taylor
  • Signed Harrison Bader

After breaking the bank with only disappointment to show for it last offseason, it looks like 2024 will be a retooling year for the Mets. New York was in the Yamamoto sweepstakes, but eventually lost out to the Dodgers. They have handed out one-year deals to Luis Severino, Joey Wendle, Jorge Lopez, and Harrison Bader so far. They acquired Adrian Houser and Tyrone Taylor from the Brewers and both appear to be in line for meaningful roles. New York was dealt a blow this offseason when prospect Ronny Mauricio suffered a torn ACL in while playing winter ball and will miss the 2024 season.

This feels like a season where the Mets try to figure out what they have before moving back closer to contention next offseason. Brett Baty should see the bulk of playing time at third base with Mauricio out unless they sign a veteran to fill that spot. The biggest storyline in Queens will be whether they reach a long-term extension with Pete Alonso or opt to trade him at some point this season before he becomes a free agent.

The Mets could use some help in the outfield and at DH, and their bullpen right now is pretty much Edwin Diaz and a bunch of uncertainty. While they have a lot of solid stuff up and down the roster, there just doesn’t look like there’s enough upside right now to compensate for the weak points, and it’s not clear if the Mets will be interested in making upside plays in an attempt to shoot the moon after a disastrous 2023.

Miami Marlins

  • Acquired Vidal Brujan
  • Acquired Calvin Faucher
  • Claimed Kaleb Ortiz
  • Acquired Christian Bethancourt
  • Acquired Roddery Munoz

The Marlins jumped the Mets in the standings in 2023 and were the third NL East team to make the postseason. They bowed out quickly in the Wild Card round, though. So far, Miami hasn’t done much this offseason, swinging a deal with Tampa Bay for infielder Vidal Brujan and reliever Calvin Faucher. They also acquired catcher Christian Bethancourt from the Guardians in hope that he can help shore up their situation behind the plate.

There have been rumors that Miami would be willing to trade one of its young starters, like Edward Cabrera, in hopes of filling some of its holes on the offensive side. They need a shortstop and a healthy season from Jazz Chisholm Jr., but there are also a ton of other holes on the roster — this is a team that’s supremely lacking in the type of offensive output you generally see around the corners. Sandy Alcantara will miss all of 2024 while recovering from Tommy John Surgery.

All in all, things seem like a bit of a shame for the Marlins, who look like they’ve assembled one of the majors’ best pitching staffs, even with Alcantara down for the count at the moment, but without the punch to actually do much with it.

Washington Nationals

  • Acquired Nasim Nunez
  • Signed Nick Senzel
  • Signed Dylan Floro

The Nationals signed former Reds prospect Nick Senzel this offseason and announced that he would be their everyday third baseman. Senzel hasn’t lived up to his prospect pedigree, but was constantly on the move in Cincinnati and could benefit from the stability of playing just one position. The Nationals also nabbed infielder Nasim Nunez in the Rule 5 Draft and he could figure into the infield picture as well.

Washington has plenty of prospects that are advancing towards the majors and could be a fun club to watch at some point in 2024. If they make additional moves this offseason, it will likely be on the edges of their roster and perhaps in their bullpen. On paper, this team right now looks like C.J. Abrams, maybe MacKenzie Gore, and a bunch of losses, but they did a nice job exceeding awful expectations last year, so maybe they get some unexpected contributions and play spoiler down the stretch or something.

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