MLB winter meetings 2018: What to know about the Braves, Phillies, Nationals, Mets and a very busy NL East
The NL East has already been the busiest division this month
Baseball's winter meetings will be hosted at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas from Monday, Dec. 10, to Thursday, Dec. 13. By definition, the meetings are supposed to be about the business aspect of the industry. They aren't viewed that way, however, since the top commodities these days are trades and free-agent signings and hot-stove rumors.
These are often the busiest days of the winter. This particular set could be the busiest days in recent memory, with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado sitting in free agency. Hey, anytime you have a couple mid-20s MVP candidates available, the stakes are high. Of course, for as much attention as those two get, they aren't the only ones out there -- and they won't be the only ones talked about.
With the 2018 Winter Meetings forthcoming, we've decided to preview the league division by division. On Monday, Mike Axisa. Today, let's check out the NL East -- which has by far been the offseason's busiest division so far with names like Donaldson, Cano, Diaz, Segura and Corbin joining the division in the last 10 days.
Needs: The Braves were one of the biggest surprises of the 2018 season. They'll try to remain on the NL East perch by adding to their rotation and outfield. Already Alex Anthopoulos has made splashes by signing Brian McCann and Josh Donaldson. If he can secure a front-of-the-rotation arm and another legitimate corner outfield stick then he can probably spend the rest of the winter finding upgrades in the bullpen.
Approach: Buyer, for sure. The Braves have an ample prospect war chest, full of intriguing starting-pitcher options. They could leverage some of those and still have more than enough to feel comfortable. Expect the Braves to be connected to names like Mitch Haniger and Corey Kluber up until they're moved.
Needs: Uh, pretty much everything. The Marlins are likely to continue their rebuild by pursuing a J.T. Realmuto trade and testing the waters on what remains of their veteran stable -- you know, the Starlin Castros and Dan Strailys of the world. Miami figures to wait out the market before signing some down-on-their-luck veterans who want ample playing time and/or the chance to prove they're healthy before getting spun off at the deadline.
Approach: As we mentioned, this group is a big believer in failing efficiently. Beyond the sell-off deals, don't expect them to do much of anything that demands headlines.
New York Mets
Needs: The Mets have a new front office and it's clear they're not too fond of the roster they inherited. The biggest need, then, might not be in the conventional sense, but rather in the desire to shake up the foundation. That means acquiring Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz while shedding bad contracts, and it also probably means shopping around Noah Syndergaard and pursuing reasonably priced free-agent upgrades.
Approach: It seems unlikely that the Mets will embrace a free-spending approach this winter -- it just isn't how the franchise has operated in recent times. As such, the safer guess is that the Mets will continue to do the bulk of their work through trades. Brodie Van Wagenen remains new to the GM seat, but if the Cano trade shows anything it's that he's unafraid to make a bold move.
Needs: The Phillies' top needs entering the offseason were on the left side of the infield. They made a big splash by trading for Jean Segura, but they could still explore an upgrade at third base (in the form of Manny Machado and beyond) and it wouldn't be too surprising if they look for another catching option. The Phillies are also expected to poke around the starting pitcher market -- hence meeting with Patrick Corbin. You can probably slot them in to sign at least one reliever, too.
Approach: Philly is big-name hunting. They entered the winter as the favorites to sign Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, and lately they've been rumored to be keen on Corbin. The Phillies appear willing to spend big money and/or trade from their prospect war chest.
Needs: The Nationals are in a peculiar position. Technically, they're waiting to see if Harper is going to return to D.C. But in the interim, Mike Rizzo has tackled some of his biggest needs. He's added Kyle Barraclough and Trevor Rosenthal to the bullpen and has grabbed both Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki to improve behind the dish. Then on Tuesday, he made his biggest splash yet. The Nats worth a reported $140 million with lefty Patrick Corbin -- the top free-agent pitcher on the market.
Approach: Rizzo is always aggressive and has been thus far this winter. The question here is how much more Rizzo can spend before Harper makes up his mind. That complicates matters, especially if ownership isn't willing to give up the ghost on Harper until there's no other choice. In fact, that could force Rizzo to once more dig into his farm system to go land some rotation help.
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