Each of the teams, with the exception of the Miami Marlins, acquired a solid rotation arm via free agency or trade. In an almost surprising move, the Marlins hung on to their core roster players and made some additions to help team in 2014 and beyond.
Let’s take a look at what each team gained and lost over the winter in the NL’s Eastern Division.
|Atlanta Braves | 2013: 96-66
After three consecutive second place finishes in the NL East, the Braves finally nabbed the NL Crown in 2013, although they were eliminated in the Division Series. While their offence placed around the league average mark in most categories, it was their pitching staff that lead the way with a league best 3.18 ERA, 3.18 and a league lowest 548 runs allowed.
Gavin Floyd, SP — 0.2 fWAR | Signed one-year, $4 million deal
Ryan Doumit, C — 0.1 fWAR | Acquired via trade with the Minnesota Twins for LHP Sean Gilmartin
Ervin Santana, SP — 3.0 fWAR | Signed one-year, $14.1 million deal
Brian McCann, C — 2.7 fWAR | Signed free-agent deal with New York Yankees
Eric O’Flaherty, RP — -0.1 fWAR | Signed free-agent deal with Oakland Athletics
Tim Hudson, SP — 1.7 fWAR | Signed free-agent deal with San Francisco Giants
Paul Maholm, SP — 0.7 fWAR | Signed free-agent deal with Los Angeles Dodgers
Scott Downs, RP — 0.6 fWAR | Signed free-agent deal with Chicago White Sox
Luis Ayala, RP — 0.1 fWAR | Signed free-agent deal with Washington Nationals
Elliot Johnson, 2B — 0.0 fWAR | Signed minor-league deal with Cleveland Indians
Reed Johnson, OF — 0.2 fWAR | Signed minor-league deal with Miami Marlins
While the Braves are definitely going to miss veterans like McCann and Hudson this year, there’s plenty of young talent in the pipeline to fill the holes. Evan Gattis, 27, projects to be the everyday catcher in 2014 after getting his first taste of big league action in 2013 and filling out the regular role when McCann was on the disabled list. A healthy Floyd should be able to fill some of the void left by the departed Hudson, especially if he’s able to regain the 4.0 WAR form he had as a member of the Chicago White Sox just a few years ago.
Freddy Garcia returns on a minor league deal and if he’s effective in Spring Training he could also find himself filling one of the open rotation spots. The biggest news out of Braves’ camp recently was the signing of Santana to a one-year deal after righty Kris Medlen went down in a game and will likely require Tommy John surgery.
The Braves owe a lot of their 2013 success to their young core which will be together for a long time after Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, Julio Teheran, and Craig Kimbrel to long term deals between four and eight years in length. Jason Heyward was also signed to a two-year pact which will cover his final years of arbitration eligibility and it’s likely the club will do their best to keep the young superstar reaching free agency after the 2016. The five players, all of whom are have yet to reach their 26th birthdays, will receive a combine guarantee of $280 million over the course of their respective deals and figure to be vital to the success of the Atlanta Braves in 2014 and beyond.
|Washington Nationals | 2013: 86-76|
The Nationals couldn’t quite recapture the success that won them the NL East in 2012 and finished second in the division to the Braves. Like Atlanta, Washington featured a fairly average offence this past season and put up a 3.59 team ERA that was good for eighth in the MLB. With plenty of youth in the fold, the Nationals didn’t have a need for any drastic changes heading into 2014
Jerry Blevins, RP — 0.3 fWAR | Acquired via trade with Oakland Athletics for OF Billy Burns
Doug Fister, SP — 4.6 fWAR | Acquired via trade with Detroit Tigers for LHP Ian Krol, 2B/OF Steve Lombardozzi, and LHP Robbie Ray
Nate McLouth, OF — 2.5 fWAR | Signed two-year, $10.75 million deal
Jose Lobaton, C — 1.4 fWAR | Acquired with LHP Felipe Rivero and OF Drew Vettleson via trade with Tampa Bay Rays for RHP Nate Karns
Luis Ayala, RP — 0.1 fWAR | Signed one-year, $1 million deal
Jamey Carroll, 2B/3B — -0.9 fWAR | Signed minor-league contract
The Nationals’ offseason was highlighted by their acquisition of Fister, a top-10 pitcher in the league last year, for a couple of replaceable pieces in Krol and Lombardozzi and a semi-interesting prospect in Robbie Ray. While it remains to be seen exactly how much of a heist this deal actually was for Washington, adding Fister to a rotation featuring Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Jordan Zimmermann that will once again be a strong point for the club could be huge in the long run.The acquisition of Fister also helps make up for the departure of Haren, who signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers.
The addition of Blevins to an already strong bullpen will only solidify the Nationals’ pitching staff further and Ayala, brought in on a minor league deal, will serve as additional veteran depth as well.
Washington’s lineup will remain essentially the same as it was in 2013 with the likes of Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper, and Ian Desmond among their core group of hitters. Look for Anthony Rendon and Wilson Ramos to increase their contributions in the upcoming season and play key roles at second base and catcher respectively. It looks as though the Nationals are pretty well set for 2014 after a slightly disappointing 2013 campaign, and as the old saying goes “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”. There’s been some talk of a potential extension for Desmond already and you can probably expect to hear about a potential extension talks for Harper as well this year.
|New York Mets | 2013: 74-88|
It’s now been seven years since the Mets last saw playoff action, but perhaps the drought could be near an end as some of their explosive young pitchers start making an impact at the major league level. New York hit .237 as a team last year and their 3.82 runs per game was well below league average. The Mets’ strongest point in 2013 was their rotation which combined for a 3.68 ERA, but with Matt Harvey out for the season, they’ll have their work cut out for themselves to keep up with the rest of the division.
Curtis Granderson, OF — 1.4 fWAR | Signed four-year, $60 million deal
Bartolo Colon, SP — 3,9 fWAR | Signed two-year, $20 million deal
Jose Valverde, RP — -0.5 fWAR | Signed minor-league, $1 million deal
Chris Young, OF — 0.5 fWAR | Signed one-year, $7.25 million deal
John Lannan, SP/RP — 0.3 fWAR | Signed minor-league, $1.5 million deal
Frank Francisco, RP — 0.1 fWAR
Aaron Harang, SP — 0.4 fWAR | Signed minor-league deal with Cleveland Indians
LaTroy Hawkins, RP — 0.8 fWAR | Signed free-agent deal with Colorado Rockies
Johan Santana, SP — 1.4 fWAR (2012) | Signed minor-league deal with Baltimore Orioles
David Aardsma, RP — -0.7 fWAR | Signed minor-league deal with Cleveland Indians
Scott Atchison, RP — -0.1 fWAR | Signed minor-league deal with Cleveland Indians
Probably the most disappointing news of the Mets’ offseason came in late October when Harvey underwent Tommy John and it was announced he was expected to miss the entire 2014 season after his breakout campaign in 2013. Colon is a nice addition to the rotation however, and at a cost of $20 million for the next two years, he could be a very valuable addition. But, he will be 41 in May and you have to wonder whether or not he will be able to replicate his 2.65 ERA and a 3.23 FIP from 2013, or if he’ll regress back to the 4.00 ERA and 3.83 FIP he posted in 2011. Either way, and PED related facts aside, Colon has been effective whenever he’s been healthy. The Mets did very little to shore up a bullpen that produced a league worst 6.96 K/9 last year.
Granderson is the other big ticket acquisition coming to New York on a four-year pact that’ll pay him $60 million. He missed significant time in 2013 recovering from a broken forearm and a pinkie injury, but he’s been a solid 3.0+ fWAR player on average over the course of his career otherwise. Like Colon, you have to wonder when age will begin to factor into Granderson’s production as he’s already seen his defensive numbers decline from his Tigers’ days.
Team captain David Wright will once again lead the charge for the Mets who have some great young talent in Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud, Daniel Murphy, Noah Syndergaard, and Dominic Smith who will contribute in the next couple seasons.
|Philadelphia Phillies | 2013: 73-89|
It appears as though the Phillies’ days of NL East dominance are over for now as the club missed the playoffs for the second straight year. Calling 2013 ugly could be considered an understatement as the team posted well below average offensive numbers and their combined team 4.34 ERA was the fourth worst in all of baseball. The core that helped lead the franchise to five straight division titles from 2007-2011, including a World Series victory in 2008, is aging and injured and there doesn’t appear to be much help on the way in the form of prospects.
Marlon Byrd, OF — 4.1 fWAR | Signed two-year, $16 million deal
AJ Burnett, SP — 4.0 fWAR | Signed one-year, $16 million deal
Bobby Abreu, OF — 0.0 fWAR (2012) | Signed minor-league, $800 thousand deal
Brad Lincoln, RP — -0.3 fWAR | Acquired via trade with Toronto Blue Jays for C Erik Kratz
Wil Nieves, C — -0.1 fWAR | Signed one-year, $1.125 million deal
Roberto Hernandez, SP — 0.2 fWAR | Signed one-year, $4.5 million deal
Roy Halladay, SP — -0.8 fWAR | Retired
Erik Kratz, C — 0.7 fWAR
John Lannan, SP — 0.3 fWAR | Signed minor-league deal with New York Mets
After being arguably the most dominant pitcher of the last decade, Roy Halladay hung up his spikes in December after dealing with back injuries for all of 2013 and deciding he wanted to spend more time with his family. The Phillies brought in Burnett, Halladay’s former Blue Jay teammate, and the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona, to help shore up a rotation that struggled mightily. Burnett, 37, had somewhat of a renaissance since he was traded to the Pirates prior to the 2012 season and posted a 3.30 ERA, a 2.80 FIP, and a 2.92 xFIP in 2013; all of which were career bests or equal to. Byrd is coming off his best season since 2010, but will turn 37 later this year and has seen a consistent decline in his defence over the last several seasons.
Longtime Phillies Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz were re-signed at different points in 2013 and will remain alongside Jimmy Rollins, and Ryan Howard in the lineup; all of whom will play at age 34 or older in 2014. Closer Jonathan Papelbon will once again anchor the bullpen which was probably the Phillies’ biggest strength in 2013. Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee are still young enough to pitch at the top of their games, but the rotation could be a single injury from disaster, especially if Burnett sees much regression.
Philadelphia is in the tough spot of having too many high priced, depreciating assets (with little trade value) to not compete, but not enough young talent close enough to the majors to start a rebuild. Unless guys like Howard and Rollins can find a way to reset the clock back to 2008, and while your at it reset the clock to 2004 because yes that really is Bobby Abreu at camp right now, the Phillies are unlikely to make much noise this year.
|Miami Marlins | 2013: 62-100|
The Marlins haven’t tasted playoff baseball since they won the World Series in 2003, and despite finishing above .500 just four times since, they lost 100 games for the first time since 1998. Their team batting line of .231/.293/.335 was a league worst in all categories, and their 3.17 runs per game was the lowest in baseball by over half a run. At least they have Jose Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton.
Carter Capps, RP — -0.3 fWAR | Acquired via trade with Seattle Mariners for 1B/OF Logan Morrison
Jeff Baker, 1B/2B — 0.4 fWAR | Signed two-year, $3.7 million deal
Reed Johnson, OF — 0.2 fWAR | Signed minor-league contract
Casey McGehee, 1B/2B/3B — -0.1 fWAR (2012) | Signed one-year, $1.1 million deal
Garrett Jones, 1B/OF — -0.2 fWAR | Signed two-year, $7.75 million deal
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C/1B — 3.6 fWAR | Signed three-year, $21 million deal
Rafael Furcal, SS — 0.8 fWAR (2012) | Signed one-year, $3 million deal
Logan Morrison, 1B/OF — -0.6 fWAR
Chad Qualls, RP — 0.5 fWAR| Signed free-agent deal with Houston Astros
Juan Pierre, OF — -0.4 fWAR
Ryan Webb, RP — 0.4 fWAR | Signed free-agent deal with Baltimore Orioles
Austin Kearns, OF — 0.0 fWAR
Placido Polanco, 3B — -0.2 fWAR
Chris Coghlan, OF — -0.5 fWAR | Signed minor-league deal with Chicago Cubs
Well, there was no fire sale in Miami this winter, and one can actually see a solid core of youth slowly starting to make an impact at the major league level. Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez, and Jacob Turner all carry varying levels of upside in the rotation behind Fernandez, who was the National League Rookie of the Year in 2013. Christian Yelich and Adeiny Hechavarria will also look to solidify themselves as everyday players at left field and shortstop respectively. It looks like the Marlins will use Furcal as their second baseman to start the year at least, but he fits the mould of a veteran guy contenders could seek to acquire at the trade deadline if he’s healthy. The 36-year old missed the entire 2013 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last March to repair a torn ligament.
Saltalamacchia was Miami’s biggest acquisition this winter, signing a three-year deal, and will fall somewhere behind Stanton in the batting order. After hitting .289/.371/.512 with 27 home runs in Japan’s Pacific League in 2013, MacGehee returns to the MLB on a one-year deal and figures to be the most interesting the players brought in by the Marlins this winter. Miami didn’t do a whole lot this offseason, and that was to be expected as they continue to rebuild and see top prospects like Jake Marisnick start to reach the majors and contribute.
Look for the trade rumors surrounding Stanton to heat up once again as he inches closer to free agency. The Marlins say they want to build around the slugger, but we should know by this time next year whether or not he will be spending the next several years of his career in South Beach. At the very least, the 2014 Marlins will actually take the form of a mostly legitimate MLB team.
*All player WAR’s shown are via FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.