Philadelphia Phillies (B+)
Key Additions: Joaquin Benoit (RP)
Key Losses: Charlie Morton (SP), AJ Ellis (C)
The Phillies won’t compete in 2017, but are in prime position to be major players in the loaded 2018 free agent market. The franchise finally shed all of its cumbersome contracts dating back to the 2008 World Series roster, but surrounded its 2017 talent with cheaper veteran options to provide some leadership in its youthful clubhouse. With a plethora of high-value prospects, Philadelphia could be a surprise buyer in July to get a jump start on building its 2018 roster.
Atlanta Braves (B)
Key Additions: Bartolo Colon (SP), RA Dickey (SP), Sean Rodriguez (IF/OF), John Danks (P)
Key Losses: None
Like Philadelphia, Atlanta added several veterans to provide leadership to its roster loaded with elite prospects. Look for Colon and Dickey to eat up innings and keep the Braves from achieving the league’s worst record in 2017.
Washington Nationals (B)
Key Additions: Derek Norris, Adam Eaton (OF)
Key Losses: Mark Melancon (Closer), Wilson Ramos (C), Reynaldo Lopez (SP), Lucas Giolito (SP), Marc Rzepczynski (RP), Danny Espinosa (SS/2B)
It wasn’t a shock that Washington lost closer Mark Melancon in free agency, but it was a shock they missed out on completing a trade for Chris Sale. They successfully added a top-tier centerfielder in Adam Eaton, but had to pay a significant price. The trade also moves Trea Turner from the outfield back to his natural position at shortstop, and that should not be overlooked. Derek Norris will need to have a career year to fill the shoes of Wilson Ramos, who jetted for Tampa Bay in free agency. The Nats will be counting on Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, and Anthony Rendon to have bounce back seasons, and Daniel Murphy to replicate his outstanding 2016 campaign.
New York Mets (B-)
Key Additions: None
Key Losses: Bartolo Colon (SP)
The Mets retained star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, but have failed to move Curtis Granderson or Jay Bruce in exchange for a quality relief pitcher. That move may still happen, but ultimately a successful 2017 season will rely on outstanding starting pitching and timely hitting.
Miami Marlins (C+)
Key Additions: Edinson Volquez (SP), Jeff Locke (P), AJ Ellis (C)
Key Losses: Andrew Cashner (SP), Fernando Rodney (Closer)
After the death of ace Jose Fernandez, Miami was searching for a way to replace him. Quite frankly, that’s impossible. His presence in the clubhouse and community cannot be matched, and his performance on the field was one-of-a-kind. With few elite starting pitchers available, Miami tried to lockup free agent deals with Kenley Jansen or Aroldis Chapman, but ultimately missed out on both. The offense is loaded with young talent, and the bullpen, led by AJ Ramos, is very capable.