Rest of NL East has been aggressive early this offseason

For the Nationals, this has been a fairly quiet offseason so far. There's still a long way to go before pitchers and catchers report to West Palm Beach, Fla., and certainly there will be plenty of significant roster moves made between now and then. But so far, the Nats have re-signed reserve outfielder Chris Heisey to a one-year deal and added a few players on minor league contracts. That's it.

For the rest of the National League East, this offseason has been anything but quiet. There's been a lot of activity already from the four clubs trying to chase down the Nationals and unseat them as division champs, the latest big move coming Tuesday when the Mets re-signed Yoenis Cespedes to a reported four-year, $110 million deal.

nats-park-rally-towels.jpgThe Nationals, it should be noted, have fewer holes to fill than their NL East counterparts. So there's nothing wrong with their lack of moves relatively compared to the others.

But for those who have lost track, it's worth running through the rest of the division and seeing how those clubs have attempted to improve their chances so far this winter ...

The Braves were in full-on rebuild mode this season, making very little effort to win games but making some real progress toward potentially winning in a couple of years. They've continued that process this offseason, with a twist: They're now not just acquiring top young talent, they're acquiring experienced veterans who might help them creep a bit closer to the .500 mark in their first season in a new suburban ballpark.

Atlanta has signed both Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey, inserting a couple of age-defying 40-somethings to their rotation. The Braves signed veteran utilityman Sean Rodriguez to a two-year deal. And they acquired young outfielder Alex Jackson, a former first-round pick, from the Mariners.

This team still is a long way from being a winner, but there's no doubt it's heading in the right direction and will improve upon its 68-93 record in 2017.

No team faces a more daunting task this winter than the Marlins do in trying to replace Jose Fernandez in the wake of the young ace's tragic death during the season's final week. Really, how do you even go about trying to do that? It's devastating just to contemplate.

The Marlins won't be able to acquire another star like Fernandez, but they did bolster their rotation this week by signing veteran right-hander Edinson Volquez to a two-year deal. This club still is lacking in quality pitching, both starters and relievers, but there's scuttlebutt about making a run at closer Kenley Jansen (who previously pitched for manager Don Mattingly in Los Angeles).

Miami finished a disappointing 79-82 this season but seems poised to get over the .500 hump in 2017 if the big boys in the starting lineup can stay reasonably healthy.

This was viewed by many as a disastrous season in Flushing because of the never-ending stream of injuries the home team suffered. And yet the Mets still found a way to win 87 games and a berth in the wild card game against the Giants.

They're almost certainly going to be the Nationals' biggest challenger for division supremacy in 2017, provided they enjoy just a little better luck on the injury front. The move they had to make, of course, was the re-signing of Cespedes. Plain and simple, they desperately needed him back in left field and in the heart of their lineup.

There's still more on the wish list, most notably more bullpen help, but the Mets should be a good team again next season. Everything went their way in 2015 and they wound up in the World Series. Hardly anything went their way in 2016 and they still made the playoffs. That makes them a real threat to the Nationals in 2017.

Like the Braves, the Phillies were in full-scale rebuilding mode this season. Unlike the Braves, they have a decent amount of quality pitching but are severely lacking for offensive firepower. Perhaps the acquisition of veteran Howie Kendrick from the Dodgers will help in that department.

Philadelphia also acquired Pat Neshek, bolstering a bullpen that already was starting to come together with another experienced arm. This team isn't going to win in 2017, but it is improving and may not be that far off from contention in a division it ruled not all that long ago.

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