LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - As the winter meetings end, the Nationals were like a well-oiled machine shopping for left-handed relievers. They traded for Jerry Blevins from Oakland and now their offseason checklist is complete: Blevins, Doug Fister and Nate McLouth. That makes the Nationals the most complete team in the division and the favorites to win back their NL East title.
Here’s a look at how the NL East shapes up as baseball departs Disney:
ATLANTA - The Braves are weaker without their leaders - Brian McCann and Tim Hudson. While their rotation lacks experience, their starters are talented. The rotation has Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran, Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy and either David Hale or Alex Wood. ... The Braves are still hoping to land a pitcher with experience. They had interest in Bartolo Colon. ... Also, the Braves are looking for a strong pinch-hitter while trying to retain free agent lefty reliever Eric O’Flaherty, who is coming back from elbow surgery and likely won’t be ready to pitch until May.
MIAMI - The Marlins’ lack of offense means they wasted excellent pitching last season on their way to 100 losses. Now, they’ve added Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Rafael Furcal and Garrett Jones to a lineup that finished last in runs in 2013. Manager Mike Redmond said that if the season started today, Furcal would bat leadoff followed by Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton and then either Jones or Saltalamacchia at Nos. 4 and 5. “Our offense is going to be much better and if we pitch like we did last season, we are going to be an improved team,” Redmond says. ... The Marlins expect Stanton to be a stronger offensive player with more experience around him in the lineup. They say they are going to build around him, not trade him. ... The Marlins want a third baseman with pop. Last season, they got no offense from that position.
NEW YORK - The Mets have added pitcher Bartolo Colon and outfielder Curtis Granderson, and they are looking to trade either Ike Davis (possibly to Tampa Bay) or Lucas Duda. The outfield defense is a big improvement with three natural center fielders - Granderson, Chris Young and Juan Lagares - roaming the spaciousness at Citi Field. “Our outfield defense is going to make us a much better team next season, and it is a huge step for us,” Mets manager Terry Collins says.
PHILADELPHIA - The Phillies are the National League version of the Yankees: Their pitching is thin and they are counting on aging players - Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz - to turn back the clock to 2008. The Phillies have Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee at the top of the rotation, but they are looking for rotation depth.