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National League

2018 Season Preview: NL East

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Washington Nationals

The Nationals return a stellar collection of offensive talent in 2018.  OF Bryce Harper is coming off of a very good year despite a late season injury.  2016 NL MVP runner-up 2B Daniel Murphy proved that that season was no fluke with his impressive 2017.

1B Ryan Zimmerman and 3B Anthony Rendon stayed healthy and added depth to an already productive lineup.  SS Trea Turner is a budding star and has five-tool abilities on the field.

Washington is hoping they found the right collection of relievers to solve the issue of the bullpen. RHP Brandon Kintzler and RHP Ryan Madson will setup LHP Sean Doolittle who will start the season as the team’s closer.

  • Team Strength: Starting Pitching

RHP Max Scherzer will turn 34 in July and is showing no signs of slowing down coming off of back-to-back NL Cy Young Awards.  RHP Stephen Strasburg has electric stuff and would be the ace of several other clubs.  RHP Tanner Roark is coming off of a rough 2017 but has the track record to rebound in 2018.  LHP Gio Gonzalez is a very good option at the back end of the rotation despite postseason struggles.

The Epoch Times

  • Team Weakness: Managerial Continuity

The Nats have had an impressive run in the NL East since 2012.  D.C. has won four division titles in that time.  Four also represents the number of managers the team has had since 2012.

Dave Martinez was hired in the offseason to replace Dusty Baker and lead the Nationals to their first playoff series victory since 1981 when they were the Montreal Expos.  The Nationals continue to churn out successful seasons year after year but continue to exit the postseason early.  D.C. is hoping Martinez is the guy to push them further into October.

  • 2018 Outlook: 1st in NL East

Harper and Murphy are free agents at season’s end but top prospect OF Victor Robles provides hope for the future in the event either depart.  The Nationals should still be the class of the NL East but with Washington postseason misery seems to repeat itself.

New York Mets

Every team deals with its share of injuries over 162 games but what the Mets went through in 2017 was unbelievable.  The Mets saw virtually every player on the 25-man roster miss time due to injury last season.

OF Yeonis Cespedes’s hamstrings often kept him off of the field.  2017 All-Star OF Michael Conforto was one of the few bright spots before dislocating his shoulder while swinging.  RHP Jeurys Familia returned from suspension only to discover a blood clot in his arm.

A barren farm system combined with a slew of injuries resulted in 92 losses.  The Mets signed OF Jay Bruce and 3B Todd Frazier to provide stability and power to a lineup that lacked both last season.  1B Adrian Gonzalez was brought in to give 1B Dominic Smith more seasoning in the minors.  The catching duo of Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki turned out to be fruitful for the Mets.

RHP A.J. Ramos and LHP Jerry Blevins return to a bullpen looking to recover this season.  RHP Anthony Swarzak signed in the offseason.  This group including Familia are expected to be the stable used in the closer by committee setup the Mets are implementing to start the year.

  • Team Strength: Starting Pitching

The Mets return to the postseason is predicated on their talented pitching.  RHP Jacob deGrom’s great 2017 campaign was overshadowed by the struggles of the team.  RHP Noah Syndergaard had a tremendous spring and has given every indication that “Thor” is back after missing the majority of last season with a torn lat.

“The Dark Knight” RHP Matt Harvey is coming into what will undoubtedly be his last season in Queens.  Harvey’s spring got better with each start.  RHP Seth Lugo will begin the season as the team’s fifth starter.  Lugo was solid in 2016 during the team’s playoff push.

LHP Jason Vargas was signed to be another lefty option in the rotation in the probability that LHP Steven Matz goes down with an injury.  The enigmatic RHP Zack Wheeler will start the season in the minors.

  • Team Weakness: Lack of speed/leadoff hitter

INF Jose Reyes led the Mets in stolen bases last season.  That statement would not be concerning if last season were 2006.  Reyes will be 35 in June and is primarily a utility player at this point in his career.

The Mets lack of speed also leaves the team without a traditional leadoff hitter.  SS Amed Rosario’s alarmingly low walk-rate would prohibit him from being a leadoff option.  Names like OF Brandon Kimmo and Frazier have been kicked around until Conforto returns.

Rising Apple

 

  • 2018 Outlook: 2nd in NL East, WC berth

New manager Mickey Callaway was hired to get the most out of his talented staff, but the team possesses a lineup that will hit home runs and a solid bullpen.  A postseason birth is realistic as long as the team does not revert to the MASH Unit of 2017.

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies have been a sexy sleeper choice by many experts coming into the 2018 Season.  The Phils were aggressive in the offseason.  The team signed free agent slugger 1B Carlos Santana from the Cleveland Indians.  The Phillies placed Santana’s locker next to struggling, yet talented third basemen Miakel Franco to help provide leadership.

The 3rd new manager to be hired in the NL East this offseason was the Phillies’ Gabe Kapler.  Kapler, 42 is a younger manager was hired to relate to the Phillies young core of talented everyday players.

York Dispatch

  • Team Strength: Talented Everyday Players

OF Rhys Hoskins hit 18 home runs in just 170 AB and will be penciled in the middle of the Phillies order for years to come.  INF Scott Kingrey had such a remarkable Spring Training that the team gave him an extension…without ever playing in an official major league game!

2B Cesar Hernandez and OF Odubel Herrera are nice pieces that have been productive during tough times.  SS J.P. Crawford has buzz around him again after having a good 2017 in the minors.

  • Team Weakness: Lack of Quality Starting Pitching

RHP Aaron Nola and the newly signed RHP Jake Arrieta aside the Phillies are lacking quality starting pitching.  RHP Jared Eickoff saw his ERA go from 3.65 in 2016 to 4.71 in 2017.  RHP Vince Velazquez when healthy had pitch count issues and trouble making it through three plus innings.  RHP Nick Pivetta had a good strikeout numbers but an ERA over six.  The Phillies need more out of the back of the rotation to make a jump in 2018.

  • 2018 Outlook: 3rd in NL East

The Phillies spent money this offseason thinking the team had talent to make strides in the NL East.  The Phillies will finish around .500 if they take advantage of playing the Braves and Marlins 40 times.  The starting pitching and growing pains will push contention back another year to 2019.

Atlanta Braves

The Bravos offseason was marred by controversy.  Former GM John Coppolella received a lifetime ban from MLB for committing several amateur signing infractions.  The team lost 13 prospects as a result of Coppolella’s conduct.  Atlanta hired Dodgers executive and former Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos.

The Braves became the latest team to move on from OF Matt Kemp as they traded him to the Dodgers for Adrian Gonzalez, LHP Scott Kazmir, RHP Brandon McCarthy, and SS Charlie Culberson.  The move was widely viewed as a salary dump by both clubs as Gonzalez was immediately released.  The Braves have suffered four straight losing seasons after only having two losing seasons between 1991 and 2013.

The quietest superstar in the league resides in Atlanta and his name is 1B Freddie Freeman.  Freeman is the centerpiece a rebuild that’s taken longer than expected.  OF Ender Inciarte continues to grow as an effective everyday player.

Talking Chop

The team has high hopes for SS Dansby Swanson after a semi-sophomore slump in 2017.  The usually reliable RHP Julio Teheran had a 4.49 ERA in the Braves new hitter friendly stadium SunTrust Park.

  • Team Strength: Good Farm System

Help is on the way in Atlanta.  The Braves feature eight players in MLB.com’s 2018 Prospect Watch.  OF Ronald Acuna is considered to be one of the top prospects in the game.  RHP’s Kyle Wright and Mike Soroka are only considered to be a year or two away from reaching Atlanta.

  • Team Weakness: Lack of Established Major League Talent

A team going through the rebuilding phase is going to traditionally lack in quality Major Leaguers.  Freeman, Inciarte, and OF Nick Markakis are a few of the names that resonate with the average fan.

The Braves and their fans will have to continue to be patient.  Swanson and 2B Ozzie Albies have the potential to be very good major leaguers, but until the young pitching and Acuna arrive the Major League cupboard will be virtually empty.

  • 2018 Outlook: 4th in NL East

The Braves now has a proven GM who needs time to get acclimated to the organization.  The farm system is loaded, but how much longer will the rebuild last in Atlanta?

Miami Marlins

Usually fans are excited when their team has as active an offseason as the Marlins had last winter.  Active in the sense of making trades not in the sense of trading four of the team’s best players for financial reasons.

The new ownership group headed by Derek Jeter embraced the traditional “Marlin Way” of dumping salary.  OF Giancarlo Stanton was traded to the Yankees, OF Marcell Ozuna was traded to the Cardinals, OF Christian Yelich was traded to the Brewers, and 2B Dee Gordon was traded to the Mariners.

Jeter met with the team’s season ticket holders and insisted that the organization had a plan and was headed in the right direction.  A tough sell for a fan base that has seen this purge two times before with two different owners.  The World Series Championship was the one thing lacking this time around.

USA Today

  • Team Strength: No Expectations

The previous Marlins fire sales gave the young players a relaxed environment where they could develop and go through the ups and downs of turning into a quality major leaguer.  This time will be no different.  Players like OF Lewis Brinson can get the traditional Triple-A experience while at the Major League level.  C J.T. Realmuto, 2B Starlin Castro, and 1B Justin Bour get the chance to play on a team that is destined for 100 losses and can only hope to be dealt before July 31st.

  • Team Weakness: Different This Time?

Jeter can preach the rebuild plan all he wants, but Marlins fans have heard this tale before.  The Marlins will be lousy enough for the next few years to draft and develop young, affordable talent.  What happens when the Marlins have to pay those talented players?  Will Jeter and Co. make good on their promise to compete?  Will they still even be the owners by then?

  • 2018 Outlook: 5th in NL East

You really have to feel for Marlins fans.  2018 and the seasons to come will be a true test for the fan base.

American League

2019 Trade Deadline Highlights

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In a shocking, last-minute deal, Zack Greinke has a new home (CBS Sports).

This year’s Trade Deadline in the MLB wasn’t as boisterous as previous seasons and might rank as one of the less-exciting ones in history. There was still a good number of high-profile moves, however, and a few big names went on to new homes. Here’s a look at the more notable acquisitions of July 31, 2019 and how they will impact the teams that got the big returns.

Blue Jays trade RHP Marcus Stroman to Mets in exchange for RHP Anthony Kay, RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson

The move that unofficially kicked off trading season was a bit of a head scratcher. It had long been rumored that Toronto was shopping ace Marcus Stroman, but the team he ended up with isn’t exactly a contender. The Mets are currently four games under .500 and may not be vying for the postseason in 2019. The move is likely another part of the Mets rebuilding process, and since Noah Syndergaard stayed put, New York may have a formidable rotation next season.

Indians acquire LHP Scott Moss, OF Yasiel Puig from Reds and OF Franmil Reyes, LHP Logan Allen and IF Victor Nova from Padres, Padres acquire OF Taylor Trammell from Reds, Indians acquire Reds acquire RHP Trevor Bauer from Indians

The literal biggest trade of the day was a this three-team blockbuster. Trevor Bauer firing the ball over the center field wall on Sunday after he was pulled in the fifth inning ended up being the last pitch he threw in an Indians uniform. A day later the Tribe rid itself of his petulance and pulled off a massive trade with intrastate rival Cincinnati as well as San Diego that saw Bauer go to the Reds and Reds top prospect Taylor Tramell go to the Friars. Cleveland received a host of players from both teams, most namely Yasiel Puig, who is ironically also known as a prima donna.

Though Bauer is undeniably talented when he keeps his act together and bolsters the Reds attempts to trend upward, San Diego may have won the trade with Tramell, MLB’s no. 30 overall prospect.

Rays acquire 1B Jesus Aguilar from Brewers in exchange for RHP Jacob Faria

Milwaukee was certainly brewing before the Deadline and made a commendable effort to improve its pitching. GM David Stearns’ most notable move was a straight swap with the Rays that brought back righty Jacob Faria in exchange for power hitting 1B Jesus Aguilar. Aguilar is having a down year but has proven many times that he can be deadly. He gives the Rays the big bat they’ve been seeking in their hunt for a Wild Card berth.

It’s a good move for both sides because it clears Milwaukee’s infield logjam and gives the team another quality starter. Faria never quite broke out in Tampa Bay but a change of scenery always has potential to pay dividends. After having already gotten Jordan Lyles from Pittsburgh on Monday, the Brewers made another move and got Drew Pomeranz from San Fransisco later on Wednesday. Though none of the returns are big name guys, Milwaukee is serious about making another run after coming so close last year.

Cubs acquire OF Nicholas Castellanos from Tigers in exchange for RHP Alex Lange and RHP Paul Richan.

The Cubs made their chances of taking the NL Central back even better with this move. Nicholas Castellanos has been one of the MLB’s more underrated players in recent years, largely because he was on the Tigers after the team’s glory days of the early 2010s ended. Adding him to a lineup that already includes Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras and Javier Baez gives the Cubbies even more firepower, especially given Castellanos success vs. lefty pitchers. It’s also a great move for him personally as he gets to join a contending team at last. The Cubs are vying to appear in the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season, and their chances look pretty good.

Astros acquire RHP Zack Greinke from Diamondbacks in exchange for RHP Corbin Martin, RHP JB Bukauskas, IF Josh Rojas and IF Seth Beer

If Houston was scary good before this trade, they’re terrifyingly good now. The Astros just added Zack Greinke to a rotation that already includes Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole in a last-minute deal that wasn’t announced until after the deadline officially passed. Arizona received a package of four minor leaguers in return as the team is now officially in the rebuilding process.

Like Verlander, Greinke is in the second half of his thirties but has not declined at all and owned a 10-4 record with a 2.90 on a sub-par Diamondbacks team at the time of his departure. The six-time All-Star’s presence gives Houston the best rotation in baseball by far and should get the knees of any upcoming opponent knocking. The MLB said it best on Instagram today, “Facing Houston? You have a problem.”

Notable non-moves:

  • After being heavily rumored as top targets, Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard and Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner are still members of their longtime teams.
  • The Boston Red Sox, whose bullpen has blown 18 saves, made no moves to improve its relief core, to the amazement of the team’s fanbase.
  • The New York Yankees were thought to be Syndergaard’s top suitor, but the team did not acquire any starting pitching to aid Aaron Boone’s struggling rotation.

What was the biggest move of the deadline this year? Be sure to let us know on Twitter @HomeRunDaily.

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Atlanta Braves

Braves Acquire Shane Greene, Mark Melancon, John Ryan Murphy

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Shane Greene

The Atlanta Braves have been busy at the trade deadline, making a flurry of moves to bolster their lineup for the stretch run.

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Atlanta has acquired Shane Green from the Detroit Tigers.

Additionally, the Braves have also landed reliever Mark Melancon from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for right handers Tristan Black and Dan Winkler.

According to The Athletic’s Robert Murray, the Braves will acquire catcher John Ryan Murphy from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for cash considerations.

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National League

Nationals Acquire Hunter Strickland

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Hunter Strickland

The Washington Nationals have acquired reliever Hunter Strickland from the Seattle Mariners, according to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.

As part of the deal, left hander Aaron Fletcher will be heading to Seattle in return.

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