Atlanta Braves: has the balance of power in the NL East just changed?

The new “no holds barred” Mets ownership is clearly going after the Atlanta Braves with a blockbuster trade today.

It was nearly 11 months ago when the LA Dodgers made a trade that eventually haunted the Atlanta Braves:  it’s quite fair to guess that without Mookie Betts on the roster, the Dodgers would not have beaten the Braves on their way to a World Series title in 2020.

Today has echos of that deal… but within the NL East.  The New York Mets have an agreement with the Cleveland [Baseball Club] to acquire two huge contributors that will help them immediately:

I’m not going to debate whether Cleveland “got enough” for Lindor and Carrasco (my answer is overtly “No”, given the expectation that the Mets are expected to ink Lindor for the long term — never mind that Carrasco and his years of control should be a huge addition to their rotation), but the real issue is what this means for the Atlanta Braves.

The Depth Chart

Here’s how the Mets stack up at this point:

  • ROTATION:  deGrom, Stroman, Carrasco, and some combination of Seth Lugo, David Peterson, Steven Matz, and Corey Oswalt… with Noah Syndergaard rehabbing his repaired ulnar collateral ligament until mid-year.
  • BULLPEN:  Largely unchanged so far:  Edwin Diaz, Trevor May, Jeurys Familia, Dellin Betances, Robert Gsellman, and Miguel Castro are the main arms.
  • CATCHERS:  Still expecting changes here (after signing James McCann)
  • INFIELD:  Alonso, McNeill, Lindor, and probably J.D. Davis.
  • OUTFIELD:  Smith, Conforto, and Nimmo in some arrangement.

Their rotation is now fairly loaded… at least at the top.  In fact, it’s easy to say that it’s a “playoff-ready” rotation, with quite enough depth to give guys a day off to muster the renewed load of 162 games.

The bullpen was still poor last year, though there’s enough talent that you’d have to think they can’t really be that bad again… as they have been for the past couple of years.  Still, adding another arm or two should be fairly straightforward.  Heck, there are some ex-Braves available.

The Mets still have no true centerfielder.  The idea of pursuing George Springer has been a hot topic for this and a few other clubs — it’s unknown right now if the acquisition of Lindor changes that approach, though if they were to sign Springer, it would create an “odd man out” situation for one of the current outfielders.

That said…

So the outfield defense is an issue for New York, but they should have enough offense to go with arguably the best rotation in the division (depending on Mike Soroka‘s return date and productivity).

It’s also fair to suggest that the Mets aren’t done rebuilding their roster yet.  Going after Lindor and Carrasco represents an “All In” move by them — clearly taking advantage of this 2021 situation where a few teams have money to spend vs. others looking to economize.

So while there are still a few holes (bullpen) on their roster, don’t expect things to remain as they are by Opening Day.  That definitely argues for New York passing up the Braves — on paper — right now.

Certainly, Atlanta can respond… and indeed they still have some work to do of their own (bullpen, catcher, left field).

Only now, the Mets have shown their hand, so the Braves will know just how far they need to reach so they can Call or Raise this New York bet.

Your move, Alex.