Let’s move on and turn to the conglomerate on the east coast of the Netherlands that has produced perhaps the game’s best rivalry to date. Or at least the one with the most whining non-Cardinals department. It’s time for the NL East.
Owner equity index: Not the best, not the worst, but the only team that has to publicly disclose their finances. So we assume that it outputs exactly what it should, although there are probably a lot of inconsistencies too. And the whole ballpark village system.
Outlook: What do you get from the team that has everything? Despite another flameout in the Division Series, this time with more whining about layoffs, about Philly fans, about the media or about the temperature of the cheesesteaks in the clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park, this is still the model team in MLB. So you don’t have to have a very active winter at all to return as National League favorites. You don’t actually have to do anything.
There are only a few places they could look at. One of them is left field, where Eddie Rosario’s option was not picked up and Marcell Ozuna can no longer play (although it would be best if left in a dumpster outside the stadium). Joc Pederson and Michael Brantley are interesting options on a one-year deal. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. would require more than that, and Tommy Pham as an agent of chaos would be entertaining as hell.
The only other spot Atlanta could consider is the back of the rotation. They chose Charlie Morton’s option, but a 40-year-old as starting number 3 is not what the high-profile stars should start a season with. You’ll expect some growth from Bryce Elder, but his ceiling probably isn’t much higher than what he’s already shown. Right now, they’re counting on All the King’s Horses and All the King’s Men to reunite Michael Soroka to round out the rotation, but everyone knows how that begins and ends, and both are only about 12 innings apart.
Aaron Nola would be hilarious here considering what happened with the Phillies and Atlanta, but highly unlikely. Something more along the lines of letting Marcus Stroman produce a ton of ground balls that Atlanta’s excellent infield can soak up sounds better. Or a flyer on someone like Jack Flaherty or Martin Perez while they try to keep Soroka on an oxygen tank between takeoffs.
Ohtani Meter (1-10 how likely they are to pursue Ohtani, with 10 being a favorite): 2. This may be the only team that doesn’t need him, and Liberty Media won’t sniff the tax line.
Owner equity index: You just tried to downgrade the first GM – Kim Ng – to give them a real playoff series (so to speak) in 20 years, so everyone knows what they’re dealing with here.
Outlook: It’s already bleak considering Sandy Alcantara will miss the season due to Tommy John disease. The Marlins rotation remains pretty strong even without the former Cy Young winner, but no team can take a blow like that on the jaw and not reel at least a little. And this has only been an 84-win team to begin with, so any upset sends the Marlins right back into the sea of insignificance that, save for two exceptional seasons in 1997 and 2003, they have been absorbed in for most of their lives.
If this were an organization actually trying and not one of the great real estate scams of modern history, they would be chasing bats everywhere. Alcantara’s absence likely clouds any attempt to cash in on their wealth of young pitchers for a batter or two, otherwise they would have to destroy the telephone lines to Baltimore or Cincinnati. Aside from second base, where Luis Arraez lives, there isn’t a position where the Marlins couldn’t use an upgrade, at least offensively. This is particularly acute since Jorge Soler looks like he’s heading for the exit door. And that includes the midfield, where Jazz Chisholm only has 60 offensive games on his resume and it’s hard to say who exactly he might be. Jake Burger and Josh Bell are good enough at cornerback this season, but neither of them should make a lineup, especially when it’s not clear that Burger won’t impale himself on something downfield.
But don’t count on this company, which has been stealing income-sharing money from Miami and its co-owners for several decades now.
Ohtani meter: Forget it.
New York Mets
Owner equity index: The cheapest in the sport, even if it won’t play a major role this season.
Outlook: If you squint, you can see that if David Stearns wanted to go a little crazy with Steve Cohen’s wallet, he might be able to fashion a wildcard contender out of what’s left here. Francisco Lindor, Brandon Nimmo, Pete Alonso and Francisco Alvarez are at least half of a pretty good lineup. Jeff McNeil’s power was lost last season and next season he will be 32 years old. So it’s worth asking if she’ll ever come back. Add in Matt Chapman, or if Matt Vientos could reproduce his AAA numbers or Brett Baty could turn into something, it would be more than a representative offense.
The rotation would require some work as it is three days older than water and is led by Kodai Senga and Jose Quintana. The outfield probably needs a lot of help too, and that’s where the problem lies.
In reality, the Mets winter will be spent weighing whether to sign Pete Alonso to a long-term contract extension or send him to the Cubs for some young arms and hitters. Alonso will be 29 next season and it can be a bit difficult to pay for a slugger who is pushing into his 30s. The Polar Bear was undone by a diabolical BABIP (.205) last season, which explains why some of his power took a small hit and his average took a much bigger hit. But he still hit 46 home runs, his third 40-plus home run season in four full seasons. People who mash baseballs into plasma don’t exactly grow on trees.
The Alonso trade also opens up an everyday spot for Vientos. Quintana and Joey Lucchesi are clamoring for deadline offers if they can cobble together a good two or three months in advance.
There isn’t enough in this free agent class to save this version of the Mets. And they’ve made it pretty clear that they have no interest in going that route anyway. Vientos Baty and Ronny Mauricio are all being taken seriously to see if they will be part of the next (in both senses of the word) Mets team in 2025.
Ohtani meter: Still a 5 because don’t put too much pressure on these idiots to convince him that the Mets can give him all the competitive seasons he wants if he waits a season.
Owner equity index: An absolute role model of an owner.
Outlook: It depends on what the Phillies want to be. Make do with easily finishing ahead of the junior class in the NL East’s booster class, which should be a cakewalk for them again in 2024, while not really attacking Atlanta during the 162, but lying in wait and a sneaky grin in October show? They really seem to enjoy this journey.
If the Fightins have plans to actually team up with Atlanta in the regular season, the rotation will be the focus. It would be understandable if Aaron Nola’s slump in form in 2023 stopped them from giving him a long-term win at 30 years old. He’s already got a lot of mileage on him, his strikeouts were down, the exit velocity against him was up, and the fastball lost just a tick along the way that rarely comes back. Nola is definitely smart enough and has enough arsenal to find another way, but no one would blame Philly if they made someone else pay for the privilege of finding out if he could do it.
But that would still leave a hole in the rotation. A rotation rounded out with Taijuan Walker, Cristopher Sanchez and Josh Fleming doesn’t really scream 98 wins; That’s probably just the buy-in to win the division. Sánchez is worth a look because he walked virtually nobody in 18 starts last season, although that was by far the lowest walk rate he had ever posted in pro ball. Can he keep this up?
The Phils are already in so much trouble that it’s hard to imagine them going after Blake Snell or Jon Gray Yoshinobu Yamamoto, but then it was hard to imagine them going after Trea Turner, and here we are. Rotation aside, it’s hard to find a more settled lineup than the Phillies’ one yet. The pen will need more than a scalpel, however, and they can aim higher than what they went through with Craig Kimbrel last season. As we said about chasing big fish, the same goes for Josh Hader here. This isn’t necessary, but lately they’ve been leaning more towards YAHOO, so never rule it out.
Maybe they just put out a feeler or two to JT Realmuto, who really declined last year and put on the tools of ignorance. He only has one more year left on his contract beyond this year, but catchers at 33 tend to age like mayo in the sun. A long way to go, but not unrealistic.
Ohtani meter: 3? It’s not that they couldn’t use him, but having him would force Kyle Schwarber, Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos onto the field at the same time, something they essentially swore off midway through last season. Again, their penchant for chaos doesn’t make this an impossibility, but if they want to spend a lot of money again, it will almost certainly be somewhere else.
Owner equity index: Asshole high
Outlook: They’ll spend the season trying to figure out whether CJ Abrams and Keibert Ruiz will ever hit (probably not?) and whether MacKenzie Gore can pitch (somehow?). Otherwise, an investigation into whether Josian Gray can stop running boys. Beyond that, we can’t find any reason why you or anyone else should care. They certainly don’t.
Ohtani meter: 1, and that is kindness.
Tomorrow: AL Central
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https://deadspin.com/braves-mets-phillies-marlins-nationals-mlb-nl-east-1851003881 Here is the MLB offseason outlook for the National League East