After two straight offseasons of being big spenders, the Philadelphia Phillies have been kinda just hanging around in the 2023-24 offseason. As the New Year approaches, the 2024 squad is a carbon copy of the 2023 Phils. At least there are worse versions of this team to run back, right?
Since re-signing Aaron Nola to a long-term deal, the Phillies have yet to make a roster move with immediate implications to its 26- or 40-man rosters. On top of some moves involving prospects or minor-league contracts, they also extended the contract of manager Rob Thomson, hired a pair of new coaches, and were trolled pretty hard by Joc Pederson.
Their rivals have been contrastingly busy and a few of them are seen as potential destinations for some of the best available players.
Let’s take a look around the National League landscape to see what some of the Phillies’ other rivals have been up to this winter.
The Braves have been wheeling and dealing this offseason. It’s not easy to find upgrades with such a great group of position players like theirs. But they were able to find a way to improve the one position that could use an upgrade, left field, by acquiring Jarred Kelenic from the Seattle Mariners.
Kelenic has the top-prospect pedigree that inflates his stock a bit but he did show some major potential in 2023 — enough that him landing with a team like Atlanta has the potential to work out very well. He posted a .746 OPS while greatly boosting his frequency of line drives and hard-hit balls. Although he’s very prone to striking out, he’s starting to show the power and consistency that makes the tradeoff worth it.
The Braves landed Kelenic while also taking on the contracts of Evan White and Marco Gonzales. The return for Seattle featured prospect Cole Philips and Jackson Kowar, the latter of whom they acquired from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Kyle Wright. In a separate move with KC, they dealt Nick Anderson for cash.
Before landing Kelenic, the Braves bolstered their bullpen in a trade for Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Aaron Bummer. It cost them former All-Star Michael Soroka, trade-deadline addition Nicky Lopez, sparsely-used rookies Jared Shuster and Braden Shewmake and pitching prospect Riley Gowens. Bummer posted a brutal 6.79 ERA last season but recorded a 3.14 ERA over the prior two seasons.
Then, the Braves traded White and Rule 5 draftee Tyler Thomas to the Los Angeles Angels for David Flecther and Max Stassi, the latter of whom they would trade to the White Sox for a player to be named later. Oh, and they flipped Gonzales and cash to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a PTBNL.
To recap the movement of guys at the MLB level after those Braves trades:
- In: Kelenic, Bummer, Fletcher
- Out: Wright, Soroka, Lopez, Shuster, Shewmake, Anderson
- Quickly flipped: Gonzales, White, Stassi, Kowar
All those trades leave the Braves with a new everyday outfielder, utilityman off the bench and bullpen lefty plus more room to make moves. They also agreed on a three-year deal with reliever Reynaldo Lopez, who posted a 3.27 ERA in 66.0 innings last season and added Penn Murfee off of waivers. The 29-year-old has posted a 2.70 ERA through 83.1 innings over the last two seasons, the latter of which was cut short due to a UCL injury he is still recovering from.
There could be more moves for the Braves on the horizon, too. They have been linked heavily to Dylan Cease, the White Sox ace who has been mentioned in numerous trade rumors.
Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos may think he’s having himself a top-notch offseason that will finally help his team beat the Phillies. But let’s see the look on his face once the Phillies announce they’re signing designated hitter Aaron Excitement to a contract. That’ll show ’em.
After making the playoffs in a non-Mickey Mouse season for the first time since 2003, the Marlins promptly stepped on the first rake they could and drove general manager Kim Ng away due to a split in vision between her and the ownership group. Now it’s up to Peter Bendix, the former GM of the Tampa Bay Rays, to build on the promising foundation Ng leaves behind.
The Marlins recently made a trade to replace Jacob Stallings behind the plate. It only cost them some cash to land Christian Bethancourt, who posted a .635 OPS with 71 hits, including 16 doubles and 11 home runs, in 104 games last season with the Rays. The 32-year-old has some nice pop to his bat but is ghastly at drawing walks and avoiding strikeouts. The bulk of his value comes on defense. With a strong arm that can throw up to 95.7 miles per hour, he’s good at preventing stolen bases.
The Cleveland Guardians ended up scooping him up off waivers and rerouting him south, reuniting him with Bendix. The Marlins also made a small trade with the Rays that netted them minor-league utility player Vidal Brujan and pitcher Calvin Faucher, who has yet to find his footing at the MLB level with a 6.32 ERA in 47.0 career innings.
With 2022 NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara shelved for the entire 2024 season due to Tommy John surgery, the Marlins could look to add a big-name starting pitcher to help stabilize the young pitching core they have with Jesus Luzardo, Braxton Garrett, Eury Perez and Edward Cabrera.
One important move the Marlins still need to make is re-signing or finding a replacement for Jorge Soler, who led them with 36 home runs last season. Whether they have third baseman Jake Burger occupy his designated hitter spot or find another DH/OF player, Miami needs to bolster its offense.
New York Mets
The Mets have yet to make any big-time moves this offseason but are always a threat to with Steve Cohen’s gobs of money.
New York shook up its leadership by bringing in David Stearns as the new president of baseball operations. He hired Carlos Mendoza to succeed Buck Showalter as manager and has yet to make any big-time splashes. The potential coup on the horizon is signing Yoshinobu Yamamoto. The Japanese phenom recently met with Mets brass and New York has also been linked to one of his teammates, Shota Imanaga.
The Mets are one of the big players for the best pitcher on the open market but took alternative steps to add to its pitching depth by signing Luis Severino. With the other Big Apple team, the 29-year-old became an All-Star but has been plagued by injury in recent years. If the Mets can get the Severino from two years ago (102.0 innings, 3.18 ERA) instead of last season (89.1 innings, 6.65 ERA), they could have a decent depth piece behind All-Star/NL Rookie of the Year runner-up Kodai Senga.
Additionally, the Mets added in the margins with relievers Jorge Lopez, Austin Adams, Michael Tonkin (a former Brave) and infielder Joey Wendle (a former Marlin). Infield prospect Ronny Mauricio, who appeared in the big leagues to end last season, tore his ACL during a Dominican Winter League game, so Wendle could be New York’s primary third baseman if the franchise decides Brett Baty needs more time to develop in the minor leagues. Star closer Edwin Diaz should be back for 2024, at least.
One potential move that the Mets are rumored to be open to is trading first baseman Pete Alonso before his contract expires next offseason. It makes little sense for them to trade their star slugger when they’re still a veteran-laden team that isn’t looking to bottom out. Whether they decide to or not, their presence in the rumor mill will be consistent throughout the offseason.
Much like the Phillies, the Nationals are just chilling. They’re just hanging around, though they can better afford to than the Phillies since they’re in a rebuild.
Washington did sign Nick Senzel to a one-year deal. The 28-year-old can play second or third base or any outfield spot and posted a .696 OPS in 104 games last season. He’s decently fast, is strikeout averse and pretty decent at drawing walks. The Nats also signed reliever Dylan Floro, who posted a 4.76 ERA last season with the Marlins and Minnesota Twins.
The offseason will get really interesting for the Nationals once Spring Training rolls around. Top outfield prospects Dylan Crews and James Wood could make it to The Show in 2024, continuing what looks like a promising youth movement in the nation’s capital headlined by CJ Abrams.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Have any of the Phillies’ non-division rivals made any splashy moves this offseason?
Ah, they have.
Ohtani showed he can do truly everything by breaking the news himself that he’s joining the Dodgers. It’s a seismic move that boosts an already great lineup. Should he be able to recapture his dominance on the mound in 2025, his two-way brilliance will truly help uplift LA in an area where the team needs lots of help — and all for the low, low price of $2 million per year, apparently.
Landing Ohtani automatically qualifies the Dodgers for a successful offseason. However, for as good as the Dodgers’ lineup (or at least the top of it) will be, their pitching is still suspect. Walker Buehler and Tony Gonsolin are still working their way back from Tommy John surgery, Clayton Kershaw is almost out of gas and Julio Urias could very well be done for good in MLB after being arrested for domestic violence again, this time with charges being brought against him.
The Dodgers recently met with Yamamoto but, aside from Ohtani, have yet to make a pitching move other than re-signing Joe Kelly. However, they are currently in discussions with the Rays on a deal that would net them Tyler Glasnow, a dazzling starting pitcher who has had trouble staying healthy, and outfielder Manuel Margot, a decent corner outfielder. Major injury concerns notwithstanding, Glasnow is a gas-throwing beast that could serve as their ace.
Los Angeles lost midseason pick-up Lance Lynn to the St. Louis Cardinals — perhaps addition by subtraction — and will let J.D. Martinez find a new home after signing Ohtani. One team in the running for him is one of their division rivals.
The D-Backs couldn’t complete the job after dismantling the Phillies in the NLCS but they have gotten right back to work fortifying their roster.
First, they landed third baseman Eugenio Suarez in a trade with the Mariners. The 32-year-old gives them a surefire option in the hot corner with some nice pop in his bat. Although he strikes out like nobody’s business, he gives them another home-run threat and has been solid defensively, especially last season, where he posted a career-high 11 outs above average.
Then, they signed Eduardo Rodriguez to a four-year, $80-million deal. The 30-year-old posted a 3.30 ERA in 152.2 innings in 2023 and has championship experience after helping the Boston Red Sox reach the mountaintop in 2018. The D-Backs now boast a strong starting pitching quartet with Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly and Brandon Pfaadt.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Tommy Pham, two key bats from their pennant-winning lineup, remain free agents without clear replacements. Adding Martinez would give them another strong hitter with playoff experience. They also have shortstop Jordan Lawlar, one of MLB’s top prospects, potentially ready to be a contributor next season. Moving Ketel Marte back to the outfield would be one way to make room for him that fills out their lineup nicely.
The D-Backs have the luxury of being built around young stars so they don’t need to add much more around the immense talents of Gallen and Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll. The Snakes are not just alive, they’re living pretty well.
AP Photo/Ashley Landis