The Braves, who have won two consecutive National League East titles, have been the most productive team in the early days of the hot stove season, signing two relievers for their bullpen.
But in a division where the four top teams have bullpen arms on their shopping list, what will each do this offseason?
The Braves signed lefty Will Smith, who had 34 saves as a closer for San Francisco last season, and re-signed Chris Martin, 33, a reliever they acquired from Texas before the July 31 trade deadline.
Martin had 22 strikeouts and one walk in 17 2/3 innings for the Braves, but he also had a 4.08 ERA while appearing in 20 games. Then he suffered an oblique injury in the Division Series.
Perhaps they had to sign Martin, given they paid a hefty price - elite starter Koby Allard - to the Rangers to get him.
Last season, the Braves bullpen was chaotic, with five different closers. They added three pitchers at the deadline and managed to win the division.
Mark Melancon will be Atlanta’s closer next season. Smith and Martin will be in a setup role with Shane Greene and Luke Jackson, assuming Jackson shakes a prolonged slump and pitches as he did in the first half of the season.
The Braves also say that lefty Sean Newcomb, who moved from the rotation to the bullpen last season, will be stretched out in spring training, meaning he’ll likely return to a rotation that includes Max Fried, Mike Soroka and Mike Foltynewicz, who wound up in the minors last season after mechanical issues hurt his command.
So fixing bullpens seems to be a common thread among contenders in the NL East this offseason. (We’ll consider Miami as a rebuilding team.)
Despite never-ending problems, the Braves’ 4.18 bullpen ERA was fifth-best in the NL in 2019. The Phillies were eighth at 4.36, the Mets 12th at 4.95 and the Nationals last at 5.66, although the Nats bullpen was a strong factor in the postseason march to Washington winning the World Series for the first time since 1924.
The Phillies are in need of at least one bullpen arm - and maybe two - and so it will help if Seranthony Domínguez can return healthy. He had a 2.55 ERA, 16 saves, 74 strikeouts and 22 walks in 2018, but injuries sidelined him in 2019.
Domínguez is expected to be ready when spring training starts.
The Phillies, with new manager Joe Girardi and pitching coach Bryan Price, might convert a starter - or maybe two - into a reliever.
Philadelphia is looking to sign a free agent starter to add to a rotation led by Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta and Zach Eflin.
That means former Phillie Cole Hamels, who struggled in the second half last season with the Cubs, could be returning to the Phillies. And that also means that starters Vince Velasquez or Nick Pivetta are headed to the bullpen.
The Mets won 86 games last season, but still finished 11 games out of first place in the division and the biggest problem was their leaky bullpen.
The Mets rotation is sound with NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz the front four.
The only two for-sure pitchers in the bullpen are Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, The Mets will be banking on Jeurys Familia and Edwin Díaz to bounce back from disaster seasons in 2018.
The Mets are looking at every possibility in for bullpen additions and that could mean they sign free agent Daniel Hudson, who went from the Angels to the Blue Jays and then closed out Game 7 of the World Series for the Nationals against Houston.
Washington has closer Sean Doolittle with the inconsistent pitching of Wander Suero and Tanner Rainey.
The Nationals need to keep Hudson.
But the Mets and Phillies need him as well.
Who knew that Hudson, cut in spring training 2019 by the Angels, would be such high demand this offseason?