NL East post-lockout priorities: Braves need to re-sign Freeman, Phillies need outfielder


Winter is here, and the negotiation game is on.

But just because it will be some time before owners and players find some sort of resolution to end the lockdown, that doesn’t mean we need to stop discussing what could / should happen when the sport finally resumes. .

MORE: Five teams, five players stuck in limbo during lockdown

Because when it does, and teams are allowed to sign free agents and re-trade, you’re going to see a flurry of activity. It’ll probably be a lot of fun, honestly, to see free agents sign deals and see teams trade after trade. After all, what are the front office guys going to do during the lockdown, other than plan their comeback strategy?

So we’re going to take a division-by-division look at what’s on the 30-team schedule, starting with the home of defending World Series champions NL East.

Atlanta Braves

Summary before locking: Braves fans, drunk with the excitement of winning this unexpected World Series, wanted just one little thing from the post-championship front office: to bring back fan favorite Freddie Freeman, the local baseball hero. The front office didn’t make that happen. And now the Dodgers, with their deep pockets and great motivation after losing left-handed roster mainstay Corey Seager – he signed with Texas for $ 325 million – need a left-handed hitter in the roster. to replace him. Eh.

The very first thing to do: Seriously, bring Freddie back. I posted a photo of the Atlanta World Series merchandise prices – and a video showing the very long queue wandering around The Battery – and felt like at least half of the responses were a variation of “Well, no excuse not to bring Freddie back with all that new money!” If the Braves let Freeman go, it will be the shortest World Series honeymoon since the Marlins’ clearance sale after the 1997 World Series title.

Also on the list: Something tells me the Braves don’t want Tyler Matzek, AJ Minter, Luke Jackson and Will Smith all pitching over 100 innings out of the reliever box, so there is a need to add another established starting option. Three of Atlanta’s top four playoffs are free agents; will they bring back Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario and / or Joc Pederson? Speaking of the outfield, is Marcel Ozuna – who was believed to have served his MLB domestic violence suspension – in Atlanta’s plans for 2022?

New York food

Summary before locking: As New York native Larry David would say, the Mets’ first month of the offseason has been “pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.” They signed the best pitcher in the market, Max Scherzer, and the best center fielder in the market, Starling Marte. They added outfielder Mark Canha and versatile infielder Eduardo Escobar. Losing Noah Syndergaard was a bit embarrassing – he said he had hardly heard from the Mets – but the team rallied well.

Top priority after locking: They’ll have a manager hired before the lockout ends, right? Yes. Sure. Probably. A healthy pair of Scherzer and Jacob deGrom at the top of the rotation would be incredible, and Taijuan Walker and Carlos Carrasco are a great 3-4. However, there can’t be too many great options and adding another established starter to the mix that includes Tyler Megill and David Peterson, among others, would help.

Also on the list: How do the Mets view Escobar? Is he a full-time starter at third base (with Jeff McNeil at second), or is he a player who gets near full-time PAs that bounce around multiple positions? If so, find a third base free agent impact bat (Kris Bryant?)

MORE: Why Baseball Fans Tend To Side With The Owners During A Work Stoppage

Philadelphia philly

Summary before locking: The Phillies had NL MVP (Bryce Harper) and NL voting finalist Cy Young (Zack Wheeler) leading in 2021 but still missed the playoffs. Again. And other than signing Corey Knebel in the reliever pen, the front office hasn’t done much to convince Philly fans that 2022 will be any different.

Top priority after locking: At the moment, Harper is the only established outfielder. The Phillies have declined their options on Andrew McCutchen and Odubel Herrera (neither was surprising) and have a group of fourth / fifth outfielder occupying those positions for now. They need an outfielder and they need a midrange bat and Kyle Schwarber is still there. This makes a lot of sense (especially if / when DH comes to NL in 2022 and beyond). If defense is the priority, maybe strike a deal with Tampa Bay for Kevin Kiermaier?

Also on the list: At least a dozen new relievers, obviously. Who is playing the shortstop in 2022? Didi Gregorius is under contract, but he had a 71 OPS + and a bWAR minus-0.8. Three other players have seen at least 10 shortstop games and had the following base percentages: .282, .297, .306. Safe to say there is room for improved performance from this location.

Miami Marlins

Summary before locking: The best move of the offseason has been signing Sandy Alcantara for an extension that will keep him with the club (unless there’s a trade, of course) at least until 2026, with a club option. for 2027. Alcantara went under the radar last season, but he was really, really good, both limiting runs and eating innings. They also signed a necessary thumper (Avisail Garcia) and improved their defense behind the plate (Gold Glove winner Jacob Stallings). Oh, and they traded for Joey Wendle and Louis Head and extended club cornerstone Miguel Rojas.

Top priority after locking: Even though they haven’t done anything significant after the lockdown, the Marlins appear to be better in 2022 than in 2021. But Garcia’s signing was only part of the answer, but not the full answer in alignment (or outfield). They could really use another bat roaming the grass in the outfield.

Also on the list: Pitching, mainly the bullpen. Same as most teams.

MORE: MLB Free Agency Tracker: Latest Rumors, Offers

Washington Nationals

Summary before locking: They traded pretty much anything they could trade before the July 30 deadline, so they’re probably done tearing down. They signed infielder Cesar Hernandez, who is a solid piece of the puzzle.

Top priority after locking: Nationals should address the pitching staff. They need starters and they need lifters. They have a lot of in-house options, of course, but not a lot of reliable producers. They probably aren’t going to compete for the best remaining arms – they won’t compete for the playoffs in 2022, barring some minor miracle – but the Nats feel like a great destination for pitchers looking to rebuild their value there. next season, then re-enter the free agent market after 2022.

Also on the list: What about Ryan Zimmerman? The franchise icon has indicated he wants to star in 2022, but will that happen to DC?

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