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How the NL East is looking as Deadline nears

MLB.com @ToddZolecki

The National League East has not been this competitive in a long time. Not since 2009 have three teams finished the season with winning records. The Braves, Nationals and Phillies are on pace to accomplish that feat this year.

Each team will be looking for upgrades before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Mets and Marlins will be looking to make moves to help them in the future.

The National League East has not been this competitive in a long time. Not since 2009 have three teams finished the season with winning records. The Braves, Nationals and Phillies are on pace to accomplish that feat this year.

Each team will be looking for upgrades before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Mets and Marlins will be looking to make moves to help them in the future.

Here is a look at a trade from each team's past, how it relates to its current roster and what it might mean for them in the final weeks leading up to the Trade Deadline:

Braves
The deal: The Braves traded Matt Kemp to the Dodgers for right-hander Brandon McCarthy, left-hander Scott Kazmir, utility man Charlie Culberson and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez on Dec. 16, 2017.

What it meant for this year's team: Atlanta cleared payroll and opened a spot for Ronald Acuna Jr. in left field.

Video: ATL@NYY: Acuna Jr. hits HR off Judge's glove in 11th

What it tells us about the next two weeks: Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos showed he can be aggressive, but knowing he needs to upgrade the bullpen and possibly add a starter, he might be more patient and look for smaller, more incremental upgrades, saving the big moves for the offseason.

Marlins
The deal: Miami traded reliever David Phelps to Seattle on July 20, 2017, for outfielder Brayan Hernandez and right-handers Brandon Miller, Pablo Lopez and Lukas Schiraldi.

What it meant for this year's team: Lopez, who is the Marlins' No. 20 prospect, recently joined Miami after he posted a combined 1.44 ERA with Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans. He projects as a middle-of-the-rotation starter. Schiraldi is the hard-throwing son of former big league pitcher Calvin Schiraldi. He has been promoted from Class A Advanced Jupiter to Double-A. Miller is in Class A Greensboro's rotation. Hernandez is at Class A Short-Season Batavia.

What it tells us about the next two weeks: The Marlins are open for business. Contenders have inquired already about closer Kyle Barraclough, rookie Drew Steckenrider and left-hander Adam Conley. Miami loved its return for Phelps. They will be seeking at least as much, maybe more, for Barraclough and Steckenrider.

Mets
The deal: Yoenis Cespedes was traded from the Tigers to the Mets on July 31, 2015, for Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa.

What it meant for this year's team: Cespedes helped the Mets win the 2015 NL pennant. He re-signed twice, including a four-year, $110 million contract that runs through '20. Cespedes' presence on the roster and his massive contract perhaps pushed the Mets into continuing their postseason pursuits, delaying any steps in a potential rebuild.

What it tells us about the next two weeks: The Mets are a wild card in that it is hard to predict how the front office will operate in the coming weeks with Sandy Alderson no longer in charge.

Nationals
The deal: The Nationals acquired Adam Eaton from the White Sox on Dec. 7, 2016, for Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning.

What it meant for this year's team: Eaton is an important piece of the Nats' puzzle, and they hope he will be a significant contributor in a healthy second half. But the Eaton trade also came at a price as Washington shipped Chicago some of its top prospects, sapping the club of starting pitching depth.

Video: WSH@PIT: Eaton smacks an RBI single to left field

What it tells us about the next two weeks: The Nationals suffered when Stephen Strasburg and Jeremy Hellickson landed on the DL, showing they could use another arm in the rotation. But they do not seem inclined to give up another package of prospects and further deplete the system to make it happen.

Phillies
The deal: The Phillies sent Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman to the Rangers on July 31, 2015, for Jorge Alfaro, Nick Williams, Jerad Eickhoff, Jake Thompson, Alec Asher and Matt Harrison.

What it meant for this year's team: Williams has been hitting the ball well since early May, becoming the Phils' regular right fielder in the middle of June. Alfaro has the strongest arm of any catcher in baseball and has been one of the best pitch framers in baseball. Both have played a role in the team's accelerated turnaround.

What it tells us about the next two weeks: The Phillies are contenders, so for the first time in a long time, they are going to be buyers. A bat might be their No. 1 priority, although any contender can use more pitching. In the Phils' case, they might look for another arm in the bullpen. It could mean a closer like Zach Britton or a more traditional setup man that could allow Seranthony Dominguez to pitch in that role more frequently.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals, New York Mets