Every team in the National League East has already done something to bolster its roster since the season ended. But every team in the division also still has some work to do.
It’s been a fun Hot Stove season, but it’s definitely not over. Here’s a look at the next move needed for all five teams in what may be baseball’s most competitive division.
Braves: Find a big bat
It’s been no secret since the offseason started that this was the top priority for Atlanta. Josh Donaldson is still on the market, and the Braves would certainly love to have him back, but they’re far from the only bidders for the former MVP Award winner. So they’ve been busy working in other areas -- adding Cole Hamels to the rotation and beefing up the bullpen.
Now, it’s time to turn attention back to the lineup. Donaldson would be perfect -- he plays a position of need in third base, they already know he fits and he’s certainly productive. But if not Donaldson, perhaps they look to a trade -- maybe calling the Cubs about someone like Kris Bryant.
Marlins: Deepen the lineup
That’s probably going to be accomplished in the outfield. Miami isn’t swimming in the Donaldson end of the pool these days, and beyond Donaldson, there just isn’t a lot of help to be had in the infield. The Marlins have a pretty good starting catcher, so that leaves the outfield.
Mets: Add a reliever or several
The Mets have a number of interesting options in their bullpen, and it’s not inconceivable that it’s enough to have a good relief corps. But they’re unlikely to take that chance. Having already addressed their needs in center field and the rotation, that leaves relief.
They’ve been rumored with big names like Dellin Betances and possible trade target Josh Hader, and it wouldn’t be a huge shock if either of those pitchers ended up in Queens next year. Another option would be to spread the wealth around a bit, signing multiple relievers to deepen the group rather than aiming just for back-end options. Either way, it’s probable that at least one relief pitcher is still to come before Spring Training.
Nationals: Try to replace Anthony Rendon
Unlike the Braves, who are still chasing their star third baseman from a year ago, the Nats’ hot corner man is gone. Rendon signed with the Angels, leaving an enormous hole in the Washington lineup. Donaldson seems the obvious fit, but as noted above, there are still plenty of suitors for him.
The problem is that if they don’t land Donaldson, their options would seem to be more limited than Atlanta’s. For one thing, the Nats aren’t exactly set at first base either -- though a reunion with Ryan Zimmerman seems to be at least in play. But maybe more crucial, they don’t have the kind of prospect depth that the Braves do when it comes to the trade market. It may not be "Donaldson or bust," but it probably is "Donaldson or worry."
Phillies: Flesh out the edges of the roster
Still, it’s unlikely the Phils are completely done. There’s a lot of uncertainty in their bullpen, in particular. It would make sense if they decided to add a legitimate reliever. But even if they don’t, it seems very likely that they’ll make some small moves, adding depth to the bullpen and their bench.