This is the fifth in an 8-part series on the offseason options of the Atlanta Braves. The schedule will be as follows:
Monday, November 4: Free Agents
Tuesday, November 5: AL East trade options
Monday, November 11 PM: AL Central trade options
Tuesday, November 12 AM: AL West trade options
Tuesday, November 12 PM: NL East trade options
Wednesday, November 13 AM: NL Central trade options
Wednesday, November 13 PM: NL West trade options
Thursday, November 14: “Best” options for the Braves in the 2013-2014 offseason
Today, we will explore the teams in the NL East (other than the Braves) and how they fit with the Braves as trade partners this offseason:
The first year post-teardown went as expected in Miami with the Marlins losing 100 games but finding many major pieces of their future (or future trading pieces as long as Jeffrey Loria is part of the ownership structure. Jose Fernandez not only won the Rookie of the Year, but he became an ace pitcher after never pitching above AA, even finishing in the final 3 for NL Cy Young Award among Adam Wainwright and Clayton Kershaw. Giancarlo Stanton recovered from a nasty injury to start the season to produce a solid OPS and 24 home runs in 116 games. Christian Yelich showed the offensive and defensive tools to possibly be a power-hitting leadoff hitter with excellent power and speed.
What can they trade with the Braves: The Marlins have some tremendous bullpen arms, but otherwise there’s not a lot that would interest the Braves. Their bullpen has a lot of power arms, but all of those arms are under team control at this point.
New York Mets
The Mets had a solid showing this season, finishing third in the division with some great pitching from Matt Harvey and strong showings from Daniel Murphy and Zack Wheeler. Murphy is reportedly on the trade market along with Ike Davis and Lucas Duda. The Mets do have a significant amount of cash to spend this offseason, so they could be looking to remake their team through the free agent system. They will also want to fill their rotation and outfield with trades of the players they are offering up.
What can they trade with the Braves: Murphy is a great target for the Braves. He’s solid defensively and offensively, and he has two more years of control left. That said, he’s on a team in the division, which means that they will likely require a much heavier package from the Braves than other teams. Atlanta could involve a third team to lessen the cost, but three team trades are very difficult to set up.
The Phillies had a strong run in the mid-2000s, but many of those players have not aged well and now the Phillies have most of their roster under contract for 2014 of the same team who lost nearly 90 games in 2013 and actually had a worse run differential than the Marlins. Of their 7 players under contract for 2014 currently, 6 are over 33 years of age, and the one under 33, Cole Hamels, is over 30. The Phillies core is aging, and not very well. They had one surprise performance in 2013, Domonic Brown, though most of his performance was confined to one month of the season.
What can they trade with the Braves: The Phillies really have nothing available that would interest the Braves. Their desirable pieces are either overpriced, old, or not what the Braves need this offseason.
Washington was the consensus pick in 2013 to win the division, expected to build off a 2012 when they were one of the best teams in all of baseball. Instead, the team struggled out of the gate and, despite a solid effort in August/September, they were never really in the race. The Braves and Nationals have achieved a solid rivalry in the last couple of seasons, and the division may be between the two teams for a number of years with the youth and talent on both teams.
What can they trade with the Braves: The Nationals are yet another divisional team with a possible 2B option for the Braves: Danny Espinosa. Espinosa is a tremendous defender, and he and Andrelton up the middle would be incredible defensively. Espinosa, however, is not a great hitter as far as contact goes, even though he has solid power and speed once he does get on base. They have also floated Jordan Zimmermann‘s name out in the trade market due to his hitting the expensive point of arbitration. He would be a great get as well, but he won’t come cheap – and even more expensive in the division.
Trading within your division is incredibly difficult, even more so when you’re the defending “top dog”. Anyone else that makes sense in a trade in the division?