Notable additions: RHP Kirby Yates, C Manny Pina
The Braves made a couple of depth moves before the lockout, signing the veteran Yates to bolster their bullpen and Pina to give Travis d’Arnaud an experienced backup. Their big move is yet to come. First baseman Freddie Freeman remains a free agent. The team either will re-sign him or pursue alternatives when the stoppage ends. They also likely will add an outfielder, be it re-signing at least one of their own (Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario, Joc Pederson) or adding a fresh face.
Where they stand: If the Braves retain Freeman or acquire a viable alternative, they should remain division favorites until unseated. They’re well-rounded, boasting blue-chip young talent and depth. The offense, rotation and bullpen should at worst be above average. And they’ll add annual MVP candidate Ronald Acuna (torn ACL) to the mix early in the campaign.
Notable additions: RHP Corey Knebel, C Garrett Stubbs
The Phillies beat the lockout buzzer signing Knebel, the former Dodger who was their only impact offseason pickup (they also added former Brave Johan Camargo). They acquired Stubbs from the Astros for depth behind J.T. Realmuto. The Phillies have a bloated payroll with little to offer prospect-wise, but a big move can’t be ruled out.
Where they stand: The same place they’ve sat during the Bryce Harper era, around .500. The Phillies need more outfield and bullpen help. They could make a move in the infield. Right now, there’s no reason to believe this team will be much better than past years.
Notable additions: SP Max Scherzer, OF Starling Marte, OF Mark Canha, INF Eduardo Escobar
New York had the busiest offseason, once again throwing money at its problems. Owner Steve Cohen landed ace Scherzer, a familiar NL East face, along with a stable of proven veterans who should heighten the team’s floor and ceiling. The Mets hired proven manager Buck Showalter, a needed veteran voice in the room. They’re expected to make further worthwhile adds when the lockout ends.
Where they stand: On paper, the Mets look formidable. They theoretically present the biggest challenge to the Braves. Until we see it come together, though, the Braves remain favored. But the Mets certainly could be a playoff team.
Notable additions: OF Avisail Garcia, C Jacob Stallings, INF Joey Wendle
The Marlins added a trio of solid position players as they try to transition from rebuild to competitive club. Their pitching could make them a future force. The offense is a work in progress, but adding a player such as Garcia helps. The Marlins seem headed in the right direction.
Where they stand: It might be another year before Miami is taken seriously, but this team should be OK. If a couple of position players have breakout offensive seasons and the pitching stays healthy, perhaps they stay relatively competitive during the summer. There are more contributors coming through the system. The Marlins are comfortably behind the Braves and Mets on paper.
Notable addition: INF Cesar Hernandez
Washington isn’t expected to make any major additions before the season. Its July 2021 teardown initiated a rebuild that’s still in the early stages. The Nationals have Juan Soto and some promising youth, including catcher Keibert Ruiz and starter Josiah Gray – both acquired from the Dodgers for Scherzer and Trea Turner last summer – but this won’t be the season they’re relevant again.
Where they stand: The Nationals probably are a nonfactor. They could be a pesky team, however, that plays a role in the division race. Remember how important the Braves’ success against Miami has been in their recent string of titles. The Nationals likely aren’t planning a lengthy rebuild, but 2022 looks like a year they’ll take it on the chin.