NL East Report: Nationals Are Pursuing McCutchen, Sale, Melancon


There is a lot of chatter about the Mets going into the Winter Meetings, but if you zoom out a bit, there has been more chatter about the National League East than any other division.

The Mets are on track to be healthy going into 2017, and if they are, they will be in a phenomenal position to win a lot of games. Us Mets fans all know that, and it seems the other east coast NL teams are starting to catch on too.

This article will sum up what the other teams in the Mets’ division are up to going into the Winter Meetings. Be prepared, some pretty big names are about to be brought up that would make the Mets’ lives more difficult.

Washington Nationals

The runner-up for 2016 National League Rookie of the Year Trea Turner was dynamite for the Nationals last season, with one caveat. The Nationals did not have any good center field options, so the 23 year-old moved from shortstop, his natural position, to fill the void. He played a good center field, but now the Nationals want him back at shortstop.

Again left without a center fielder, the Nationals have turned their attention to Pirates’ center fielder Andrew McCutchen. The 30 year-old former MVP is being pushed hard by the Pirates this offseason and is expected to be traded in the very near future. With that being said, the Pirates will not trade him if they aren’t satisfied with the return. They are still a tad miffed by how little they got for Neil Walker last offseason (getting only Jonathan Niese), so they must capitalize with Cutch.

The Nationals aren’t planning on stopping there, unfortunately. Despite already having Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Tanner Roark, and Joe Ross, the Nationals are trying to make a big move to further improve their starting rotation. Sources have connected the Nationals to White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale.

Bob Nightengale tweeted that the Nats are trying to go for both Sale and McCutchen and believe they have the resources to do so. That would be in addition to acquiring a closer, who many believe to be Mark Melancon who would be returning to Washington after playing the second half of 2016 with them.

The Nationals are gearing up to have an enormous offseason. They will be acquiring a big ticket closer, and most likely will be acquiring the services of Andrew McCutchen. Getting both those two guys and Chris Sale seems to be a long shot, especially considering their rotation is already pretty good. If they really insist on improving their rotation, they could shift their attention to Rays ace Chris Archer who would be slightly cheaper.

aroldis chapman

Miami Marlins

Following the untimely death of Jose Fernandez, the Marlins find themselves scrambling to reaffirm themselves as contenders. They have already signed Edinson Volquez to bolster their rotation, but instead of acquiring another starter, they seem to have shifted their attention to acquiring one of the three big free agent closers.

Sources have said that the Marlins would be happy with any of Mark Melancon, Aroldis Chapman, or Kenley Jansen. If the Marlins were to sign Kenley Jansen they would forfeit their 14th overall pick in the 2017 draft. Despite this, Ken Rosenthal reports that they are possibly willing to offer him five years and $80 million. However, Aroldis Chapman makes more sense for them because, other than them not having to forfeit a first round pick, the Cuban community in Miami could be an attractive prospect for him and vice versa.

The Marlins already have A.J. Ramos who has served well as their closer, however he hasn’t been on the elite level of Melancon, Jansen, or Chapman. Many have reported that they are committed to signing one of those men, and they definitely have the funds to do so.

Atlanta Braves

The Braves have already made a lot of noise this offseason, signing free agent veterans Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey and trading for Jaime Garcia. With those three and Julio Teheran, they have 4/5 of a strong rotation. To complete it, like the Nationals, they have been very vocal about wanting to acquire Chris Sale.

The difference between the Braves and Nationals, which I believe gives them the edge, is that they are not also trying to trade for an MVP caliber player like Andrew McCutchen. They have a stronger farm system than the Nationals and because they don’t have to divide their top prospects into two trades, I believe this gives them a better shot at acquiring the lefty Sale.

Other teams are in on Sale, such as the Astros, Rangers, Red Sox and Dodgers, however out of all those teams, the Braves seem to have the best shot at landing him due to their strong farm system.

Philadelphia Phillies

The Pillies have already acquired veteran reliever Pat Neshek to provide experience in the 8th inning in front of closer Jeanmar Gomez. Now to bolster their bullpen even more, they are nearing a deal with 39 year-old Joaquin Benoit.

It was also reported that the Phillies and Tigers talked about J.D. Martinez, however nothing materialized. It is possible the negotiations will start up again during the meetings, but there have been no reports on that subject since Friday December 2nd.

Stay tuned for more news about the NL East and the rest of the Bigs as this is shaping up  to be an exciting Winter Meetings! LGM!

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About Logan Barer 646 Articles
Ever since I experienced Mike Piazza's post 9/11 home run to beat the Braves at Shea, I have been a die-hard Mets fan and exhaustive lover of baseball. I am a recent graduate of Ithaca College where I pitched on the varsity baseball team for four years and have been writing for MetsMerized Online since January of 2015. Follow me on twitter @LBarer32