This is the second installment of the 2021 MLB Offseason Recap. I will be going over each team’s additions and subtractions during the winter and determine if they’ve improved, declined, or stayed the same in terms of talent and competitiveness. At the time of writing this (Feb 9th), there are still some notable free agents that haven’t found a team yet (Justin Turner, Jackie Bradley Jr, Kevin Pillar, Trevor Rosenthal, James Paxton, Brett Gardner, etc.) so stick with me if this becomes immediately outdated. Enough wasting time, let’s dive in.
After an absolutely dominating 2020 season that the world finally got to witness the great Fredwardo Freeman take home well deserved NL MVP award, the Braves couldn’t edge it out against the World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. The Braves biggest item on their to-do list this off-season was completed last Friday, which was resigning Marcel Ozuna. Ozuna had a hell of a year and was an integral part of the Braves success in the middle of their lineup. Along with Ozuna, the Braves signed a veteran pitcher who actually started with the Braves early in his career, Charlie Morton. Morton, even at the age of 37 Morton should provide a nice boost to a young rotation. The Braves also signed reliver Carl Edwards Jr. who has had a few good seasons with the Chicago Cubs early in his career and hopefully can recapture that same magic. The Braves did lose some key pieces of their 2020 roster including Darren O’ Day, Shane Greene, Mark Melancon, Mike Foltynewicz, Nick Markakis, Adam Duvall and catcher Tyler Flowers. Finding relievers of the same caliber to which the Braves lost will be tough to regain but anything can happen and Greene and Melancon are still free agents. The Braves have been kind of quiet up to this point and will hopefully find a little more help on the backend of the bullpen to capture the same magic they had in 2020.
New York Mets
Under new management, the New York Mets seem to be heading in the right direction with an owner that wants to win. The Mets have made a ton of moves already this off-season with Spring Training approaching fast. Unless you have been living under a rock, you have by now heard that their newest addition in Francisco Lindor. Lindor will be a huge addition to a lineup that already consists of Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, J.D. Davis, Dominic Smith and Jeff McNeil. One order of business the Mets needed to address was their Starting pitching. With Syndegaard having surgery last season and Stroman opting out of the season, the Mets lacked starting pitching last season. So far, the Mets have added Carlos Carraso via trade, Marcus Stroman via singing and Joey Lucchesi from the Padres. Syndegaard should be back sometime mid to late summer but has been reported to be ahead of schedule with his rehab. The Mets also went out and scooped up the second best catcher available on the market, James McCann, which should be more beneficial than most people think. The one area that did not need much improvement was their bullpen. Their bullpen is stacked and the Mets still went out and added relivers Trevor May, Aaron Loup, and former Brave Arodys Vizaino. Along with all their additions, the Mets did lose a few players that shouldn’t be too detrimental to the teams overall success. The Mets did end up losing young infielders Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez but in return ended up with Carlos Carassco and Francisco Lindor. It seems like a fair loss to gain the players they did. All in all, this has been a very productive off-season so far for the Mets and it will be interesting to see how the Mets play this season.
The Phillies had what most would consider a down 2020 season. Their biggest problem was their bullpen. The Phillies went out and tried to improve that aspect of their team and it only backfired when they went out and got Brandon Workman from the Boston Red Sox to have Workman finish the year with a 6.92 ERA through 13 innings pitched. The Phillies got the message and so far have went out and added hard throwing lefty and former Ray great Jose Alvarado, Archie Bradley, Hector Rondon, Michael Ynoa, and Neftali Feliz. Archie Bradley will most likely see the bulk of the saves unless they go by matchups which could throw Alvarado in the mix. Chase Anderson formerly of the Blue Jays was just signed last week and should add a nice addition of starting pitching depth. Of course, the Phillies resigned J.T. Realmuto which was seen as a huge sigh of relief for Philly fans as there was no plan put in place without him. Other than the additions of their pitching staff, the Phillies did not add any bats to their squad. They seem to be quite comfortable with Roman Quinn and Andrew McCutchen, who is coming off a torn ACL, patrolling next to Bryce Harper in the outfield. If the Phillies can get their pitching in line and Alec Bohm can produce like he did last year, the Phillies have a great chance on improving on a down 2020 year.
After a World Series title in 2019, the Nationals took a significant step back in 2020. The absence of Stephen Strasburg, an underperforming Patrick Corbin, and Juan Soto getting hit with COVID to bein the year will do that to your team in a short season. Heading into 2020 the Nationals needed to improve on multiple facets of their team. The Nationals took a low-risk high-reward gamble on starter Jon Lester a nice top four in their rotation if Lester can regain just a little bit of what he is capable of doing. A bit of a weak bullpen in 2020, the Nationals added highly touted closer Brad Hand giving them a legit 9th inning option. Not that Daniel Hudson is bad, but now the Nationals have one of the games best left handed relievers that can come and shut the door in the 9th. The Nationals were not a bad hitting team during the 2020 season and they still went out and added a bit of pop to their lineup with the additions of former Chicago Cub, Kyle Schwarber, and former All-Star and former Pittsburgh Pirate, Josh Bell. With additions come subtractions, most the time. For every Eric Thames, there is a Kyle Schwarber to replace him. Howie Kendrick also sailed off into the sunset this off-season and to fill those big shoes will more than likely be Josh Harrison. Could be doing worse than him. The Nationals also added a second catcher to platoon with Yan Gomes which will be Alex Avila. The Nationals still seem to not be the favorites even after being only two years removed from their World Series title. If Josh Bell finds his stroke from two seasons ago, and their starting rotation and bullpen stays healthy and productive, they could surprise a lot of people in 2021.
Baseball’s biggest surprise in 2020 was easily the Miami Marlins ball club. After having nearly more than half their team enter COVID protocol in the early parts of the season, it seemed an already weak Marlins team could easily fall into last and stay their. That was not the case. The Marlins made it into the post-season and knocked out the Chicago Cubs in three games only to be dominated by the great Atlanta Braves in the next round. Even though the Marlins played significantly better than anyone thought, they are still in rebuild mode and will be for the next few seasons. The Marlins seemed to let go of most of their veteran players from the previous season and have been mostly quiet on the other end of the spectrum. The Marlins have made a couple of sneaky moves that will keep them relevant and in some games this year. The Marlins acquired Adam Cimber from the Indians for cash. Signed reliver Anthony Bass, who has had a productive last two seasons and even briefly taking over the closers role with both the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays. In the addition to Bass, Miami added lefty reliver Ross Detwiler who has settled in nicely into a relievers role after finished his 2020 season with a 3.20 ERA with the Chicago White Sox. The Miami Marlins could once again spoil some teams seasons with teams taking them lighter than they need to be taken. Although they probably won’t be contending too much this year with a full season, baseball is unpredictable and anything can happen.
Verdict: Stayed the same
The NL East will be once again be a fun division to watch all year especially with the Miami Marlins making more noise than most thought. Most of these teams, in my opinion, improved on their teams needs of the 2020 season and only time will tell what happens next. Cannot wait for baseball to start. Hopefully on time.