NL East Report: Offseason Scorecard

An article by posted on December 16, 2010

MLB.com breaks down the NL East and here’s what they got so far. My notes follow.

Braves

What they’ve done: The Braves bolstered their offense by acquiring second baseman Uggla in a trade with the Marlins. Atlanta also added Sherrill and Scott Linebrink to the bullpen and re-signed Eric Hinske to a one-year deal.

Left to do: The possibility exists the Braves could add an inexpensive outfielder before heading to Spring Training. But there’s also a good chance general manager Frank Wren has made his final significant moves of the offseason and will head into Spring Training with what he has. Injuries hurt Atlanta’s offense late last season, so the addition of Uggla helps. The Braves made things interesting for the Phillies in 2010, and there’s no reason to think they won’t make them interesting again in 2011.

MMO Notes: George Sherrill was a nice addition and reasonable signing a one-year, $1.2 million contract. Sherrill held left-handed batters to a .192 batting average and a .286 on-base. Very surprised the Mets weren’t looking at him. Meanwhile, Braves GM Frank Wren said Billy Wagner is still on the team’s 40-man roster even though Wagner still has no intention of pitching again . “The player has to retire; the team can’t retire him,” Wren said. Wren also said he has started negotiations on a contract extension with newly acquired second baseman Dan Uggla. “I think there’s a mutual desire for us to keep him long-term and for him to stay long-term. I think that’s come through loud and clear, both from Terry Bross, Uggla’s agent, and from Dan.”

Marlins

What they’ve done: The Marlins have been busy. They signed free agents John Buck, Javier Vazquez and Randy Choate. They acquired Omar Infante, Edward Mujica, Ryan Webb, Dustin Richardson and Michael Dunn in trades.

Left to do: The Marlins might tweak here and there, but getting Choate likely finished their heavy lifting. Florida would like to find a left-handed bat to come off the bench. But the Marlins could give the Phillies fits next season. They have a talented rotation and a revamped bullpen — including three left-handers — which could give Philadelphia’s offense problems.

MMO Notes: A report linked the Marlins to discussing a move that would have sent Ricky Nolasco to the Rockies. Arbitration-eligible for two more years, Florida has a three-year offer on the table for Nolasco. But the sides have yet to come to an agreement. LHP Randy Choate signed a two-year, $2.5 million contract similar to what Mets gave D.J. Carrasco. Choate, 35, was 4-3 with a 4.23 earned-run average for Tampa Bay last season, allowing 41 hits and striking out 40 in 44.2 innings. He held left-handers to a .202 batting average.

Nationals

What they’ve done: The Nats made one of the biggest moves of the offseason when they signed Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126 million contract.

Left to do: The Nationals need more than Werth to get to the top of the division in the next few years. They’re still looking for a first baseman to replace Adam Dunn, who signed with the Chicago White Sox. They’re also looking for another starter and bench help. Washington has some good, young talent coming through the organization, so it is mixing aggressiveness (i.e Werth) with patience (i.e. Bryce Harper). Harper won’t be in the big leagues anytime soon, so the rebuilding effort continues.

MMO Notes: The Nationals agreed to a one-year deal with Chien-Ming Wang. Wang’s base salary is $1MM, but the contract could be worth as much as $5MM in incentives. Brandon Webb “remains excited” about the Nationals, according to a baseball source. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo met with Brandon Webb’s agent Jonathan Maurer earlier this week. The Nationals believe Webb is healthy. It’s not a secret that Webb has a close relationship with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, who drafted Webb in the 2000 First-Year Player Draft. The Nationals are still in the mix for Carl Pavano’s services, according to a baseball source. The talks between Pavano and clubs are expected to get serious this week. It will be interesting to see how many years the Nationals offer Pavano. Pavano, 34, led the AL Central with 17 wins in 2010, posted a 3.75 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and pitched 221 innings. His seven complete games and two shutouts were both career highs. The Nationals continue to look for a first baseman and they have expressed interest in free agent Derrek Lee, Adam LaRoche is their backup plan.

Phillies

What they’ve done: They signed Lee, re-signed Jose Contreras and agreed to terms with Reyes.

Left to do: General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Wednesday the Phils have almost no room to add anybody else, although they certainly could use another veteran arm for the bullpen, and maybe even a right-handed bat in the outfield to help replace Werth. But the expectations are that Philadelphia will give Ben Francisco, Domonic Brown, Ross Gload and John Mayberry Jr. long looks in right field in Spring Training. The chances of re-signing Chad Durbin might have ended with the Lee signing, but it’s still worth watching.

MMO Notes: You already know the big Phillies news, so lets move on. They signed LHP Dennys Reyes to a one-year, $1.1 million contract with a $1.35 million option for 2012. Reyes posted a solid 3.55 overall ERA. Jimmy Rollins underwent surgery to remove cysts from his wrist, he’ll be fine. The Phillies are continuing to negotiate with Chad Durbin and both sides are optimistic a deal can be reached. Durbin, 33, posted a 3.86 ERA and 50/22 K/BB ratio over 58 1/3 innings this past season for the Phils. Outfielder Mike Cameron is on their radar.

Mets

What they’ve done: The Mets don’t have much payroll flexibility, which has limited their ability to make a splash this offseason. They added reliever Carrasco and backup catcher Ronny Paulino.

Left to do: The Mets have added five players through a combination of free agency and the Rule 5 Draft. None of them are household names. But they hope they fill holes on the 25-man roster and their stars return to prior form to challenge in the division. Between now and Spring Training, New York could add a veteran starter to its rotation and a left-hander in the bullpen, but otherwise it is expected to be quiet.

MMO Notes: All quiet on the western front (and the eastern front). Andy Martino of the Daily News reports that there is “nothing imminent” between the Mets and Chris Young or any other free agent starter. The Mets have expressed interest in free agent left-hander Hideki Okajima, according to Kevin Burkhardt. Okajima posted a 4.50 ERA and 1.72 WHIP over 46 innings in 2010.

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