MLB Offseason: One Prediction for Each National League Club
As much as this writer hates when the World Series ends, as it marks the end of baseball for months, there is still plenty of excitement in store the next few months. The MLB postseason can sometimes be as entertaining as the games themselves, with twists and turns around every corner.
First, we took a look at the American League, with a prediction for those fifteen clubs. But now, it is the National League’s time to shine. So let’s get into our next round of fifteen predictions, shall we?
The Atlanta Braves surprised many last season by coming out of nowhere to take the NL East, which was a division many handed to the Nats prior to the season. But thanks to the likes of Freddie Freeman, Nick Markakis, Ozzie Albies and Mike Foltynewicz, the team made the playoffs. However, they will have some holes to fill if they want to repeat in 2019.
One of their chief needs going into this Winter is an outfielder. While they will be linked to names such as Adam Jones, Andrew McCutchen, and others, it will ultimately be Michael Brantley who is manning the outfield for the Braves in 2019.
Last Winter, there was a mass exodus in Miami. Giancarlo Stanton went to the Bronx. Marcell Ozuna was shipped to St. Louis. Christian Yelich ended up as a Brewer. However, not everyone was sent packing. J.T. Realmuto remained in a Marlins uni, but he has made it known, that is not going to last for long.
Realmuto’s agent has made it known, his client has no intentions of inking an extension with the team. As a result, a trade is certainly a possibility this Winter. While it might pain the Fish to trade their lone star within the division, the Washington Nationals will offer up the best package of prospects.
New York Mets
Hold onto your hats, this one is going to be bold. The team has a new General Manager, Brodie Van Wagenen, who used to be an agent. His philosophy is expected to be very analytical. This writer is also expecting him to make some pretty big moves. That will start with a move many discusses this past Summer, trading starter Jacob DeGrom, who was represented by Van Wagenen not too long ago.
So where will he be going you ask? The answer, Chicago, as the Mets pull off a blockbuster deal that sends DeGrom to the Windy City, and Kris Bryant headed back to the Big Apple. While other pieces could be involved, these two would clearly be the headliners. While the Mets would not save much in terms of money in such a move, they would get a player with an extra year of control, several years younger, and an immediate impact bat, which they desperately need.
The Phillies are a team you should expect to hear a lot of this Winter. They are a young team on the cusp of being ready to contend. They have money to spend and players to trade. We already touched on one potential deal they might make with Cleveland in our AL prediction piece, but how about those big free agents.
This writer does not see Bryce Harper coming to the City of Brotherly Love. However, the other big bat, Manny Machado, will be calling Citizens Bank Ballpark home for the foreseeable future. The Phils could certainly be looking to upgrade the left side of their infield, and there is no better way to do that than to give this dynamic bat the money he is looking for.
The Nats are one of the more interesting teams to follow these next few months. Right off the bat, I don’t see any scenario where Bryce Harper ends up back with the club. And quite honestly, that’s a good thing for the team. They have proven they cannot make it to the promised land with him. Handing him a huge portion of their budget is not the way to fix that.
As discussed under other team’s predictions, we see the team being active in the trade market. But they will also turn to the free agent pool to fill a need or two, although in a much less fascinating way. So I won’t bore you much with this one. The Nats, who will need to upgrade at second base, will sign veteran Ian Kinsler.
The Chicago Cubs are a team a casual baseball fan might look at and say, they’re fine. But guess what people, this is a team that needs to change things up. Joe Maddon is on the hot seat. Word is they won’t have the money to go spending on the big-name players like some expected. The result, a very active trading season for Theo Epstein, who is no stranger to making big deals.
We already mentioned how Bryant could land them DeGrom. What follows will be a trade of Jose Quintana, who enters his contract year, to help upgrade their bullpen. Quintana’s final destination, Boston, who will need an arm or two. However, the bullpen help will come from elsewhere, as this will be a three-way deal!
Like the White Sox, the Reds are a surprise team who could be looking to spend this Winter. This is a team that has been in need of starting pitchers for quite some time. Will this finally be the offseason the team addresses the need? They will try, and miss out on several names they go after.
As a result, they will land Yusei Kikuchi. He is a 27-year-old left-hander who could draw interest from a number of teams, including teams such as the Reds. While he is not seen as a true ace, but more of a number three type, that is still a clear upgrade for a team that is still rolling out Homer Bailey every so often.
When talking about surprise teams of 2018 MLB Season, the Brew Crew are one that immediately comes to mind. Their acquisition of Yelich last Winter was a key reason why. As a whole, the offense was not an issue, but rather they are lacking a big starting pitcher when it came time to get to the World Series.
The team’s answer, signing J.A. Happ. One of the bigger name starters, Happ would plug right into the top end of the Brewers rotation. While I would not give him the ace label, he is a clear step up from the names rolled out in 2018.
The Pirates are always one of those teams that I could see going either way. They have plenty of young talent, and could easily make a run in the coming season. However, they also never seem to get quite where they need to be. They are also a team that usually does not make a ton of splashy moves.
So when it comes to their big move this coming offseason, signing a man who drove in 99 runs a season ago that no one is talking about, would qualify. The team has a clear hole in the middle infield. So why not add a veteran presence, such as Jed Lowrie into the fold?
St. Louis Cardinals
This is going to be a very active offseason for the Cards. While looking at their roster, not a lot of holes can be found. However, given how last season turned out, the team can’t just go into 2019 with the same roster. So expect plenty of trade talk around St. Louis.
However, they can also make a huge upgrade to their pen without making a trade. Craig Kimbrel is one of the greatest closers of this generation. With the pen having its fair share of issues in 2018, getting a lockdown closer would go a long way to making the 2019 team better than 2018’s club.
Let’s cut right to the chase. The DBacks will likely be losing Patrick Corbin and AJ Pollock. They could very well trade away names such as Paul Goldschmidt and/or Zack Greinke. While I think they will sell off, I think they get through the Winter with both of those names still on the roster.
However, one veteran that will be on the move will be Brad Boxberger. Remember that three-team deal we discussed before? Well, it will be Boxberger who ends up in the Chicago pen. Prospects from Boston will find their way to the desert as the Diamondbacks start their rebuild.
One of the harder teams to predict, the Rockies are a club that some will consider being in contender mode right now. It is almost impossible for the club to draw in any free agent pitchers, given the reputation of Coors Field. So if the team wants to make pitching upgrades, it will likely be through the trade market.
But, they will also have a hole or two to fill on the offensive side of the ball as well. Enter Andrew McCutchen, who could easily man one of the corner outfield spots in the Mile High City. Given his age, he might come at a bit of a discount compared to some other names. But he certainly brings a veteran presence to a club that needs to prove to Nolan Arenado that they are serious about competing (and if they aren’t he might very well be dealt).
Los Angeles Dodgers
Back to back years of losses in the World Series. It is clear the team has talent. They just have not been able to close the door completely to celebrate. Looking over their roster, there are no immediate holes that can be pointed to as a must in terms of upgrading. So time to get creative.
During the season, the Dodgers pen was one a unit this writer did not have much faith in, although they did improve some as the season went on. But at the end of the day, it is certainly a unit that could be upgraded. Enter Raisel Iglesias, the closer for Cincy. Pairing him with Kenley Jansen would certainly make for a dynamic one-two punch.
San Diego Padres
The Padres are not going to be seen as a contender in 2019. They also have a surplus of players, especially outfielders. It is expected that Wil Myers could very well be on the block. But at the end of the day, the team won’t be against making additions either.
In particular, adding potential arms who could be seen as reclamation type projects could fit the club. Sonny Gray, in particular, could be a fit. The Yankees are clearly open to moving the arm, as his time in New York has not panned out as expected. He pitches better away from Yankee Stadium and would be a better fit in Petco Park.
San Francisco Giants
Since you’ve gotten this far and there has not been mention of Bryce Harper signing with anyone yet, it’s a pretty safe bet where this prediction is going. A team with money to spend and in need of a direction, Harper would immediately join a club with a long history of winning titles. It is also a team in need of an offensive injection.
Harper has been linked to teams such as the Phillies and Yankees. Not many are pointing to San Fran, but there have been a few reports claiming the Giants have his name circled. So while he will pass on donning any form of pinstripes, Harper will make his way from the East Coast to the West Coast.
So fans, what do you think? Will Harper end up by the Bay? Will Machado head back to the North East? Tell us what you think in the comments!
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