Offseason Predictions: National League East

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By Patrick Brewer

New York Mets

  • Find A Way to Re-Sign Yoenis Cespedes

For the Mets, the number one priority this offseason should be finding a way to re-sign Yoenis Cespedes for the long term. Since coming to the National League, Cespedes has been a revelation for the Mets and has helped lead them all the way into the World Series for the firs time since 2000. Cespedes was arguably the best hitter in not only the National League but perhaps all of baseball during the second half of the season, and has proved himself in more ways than one. He has bounced around quite a bit so far in the first few years of his career but should find a long term home in New York.

  • Let Daniel Murphy Go 

Even more so than Yoenis Cespedes, Daniel Murphy was the real postseason hero for the New York Mets. Murphy hit home runs in six consecutive games, including home runs in each of the four games in the National League Championship Series. Murphy really had an average season for the Mets in what has more or less been a very average career. Prior to the postseason it was likely that the Mets would be willing to bring Murphy back on a reasonable contract. With his performance in the postseason fresh in everyone’s minds, it appears less and less likely that the Mets will be willing or able to afford the type of contract that Murphy will demand. The Mets will offer Murphy a qualifying offer, which he will decline, and he will likely sign a large contract with a team with a willingness to spend money (my prediction is the New York Yankees, who are still in need of a better option at second base).

  • Trade Away a Starting Pitcher

This may not be a popular sentiment but it is an option that the Mets would be wise to entertain. As it currently stands the Mets have six or seven pitchers who could fill full time rotation slots in 2016. This includes the big four young guns, in Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz, as well as other assorted arms such as Jon Niese, Bartolo Colon and Zach Wheeler. While the Mets would get the most value out of trading one of the big four, it appears more likely they will attempt to part with Niese over anyone else. Expect the Mets do make some moves in their pitching staff this offseason, whether they win the World Series or not.

Washington Nationals

  • Stephen Strasburg is Traded

After the Washington Nationals epic failure of a season, seemingly everything is on the table for this offseason and in 2016. On the top of the list of offseason possibilities is the potential trade of Stephen Strasburg. The Nationals reportedly fielded offers on the starting pitcher at the trade deadline, and rumblings of a potential trade have increased in the weeks since the Nationals season ended. Despite his struggles with both injuries and effectiveness, Strasburg is still a great young arm with an enormous potential for greatness. It seems unlikely that the Nationals would abandon such a young talent but it makes more sense than at first glance. Strasburg’s salary is ever increasing through arbitration and his value may be as high as it is going to get after a strong finish to the 2015 season in which he gave up only five runs in his final five starts in September. Expect Stephen Strasburg to have a new home in 2016.

  • Cal Ripken Becomes the Nationals New Skipper

Based on recent news, this is a bit of a bold prediction for this offseason. As of now it seems that Dusty Baker is the leader of the pack in terms of who could become the Nationals next skipper. With that in mind, Ripken is still a dark horse candidate that should be watched carefully. When asked about the potential fit in Washington, Ripken claimed that he would be willing to listen if the Nationals decided to reach out. That was a few weeks ago and not much has come of that since it was initially reported. Despite all signs pointing to Ripken not getting the job, somehow it still seems like a real possibility. Cal Ripken will be the Nationals new skipper in 2016.

  • Trea Turner Takes the Helm

With the impending free agency of Ian Desmond, and the abysmal 2015 season that Desmond had, it seems likely that the Nationals will cut ties with Desmond and move forward with Trea Turner as the full time shortstop. The Nationals former manager Matt Williams faced great criticism for his use, or really lack of use, of Trea Turner down the stretch of the season, especially after the Nationals were eliminated from contention. Even with Desmond’s poor 2015 campaign, it still appears likely that he will command a large salary, a salary that the Nationals will have nothing to do with. Desmond will have a new home in 2016 and Trea Turner will be the Nationals starting shortstop in 2016.

Miami Marlins

  • Marcell Ozuna Gets a New Home

Prior to the 2015 season, many were calling the Marlins outfield of Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna the best in all of baseball. This was before Stanton’s injury, before Ozuna’s demotion to Triple A, and before Yelich’s on and off struggles throughout the season. Following their coronation as the best young offense in baseball, the Marlins outfield responded by having a poor season all around. At the forefront of that was Ozuna, who was sent down to Triple A in the middle of the season due to his struggles. Despite Ozuna finding some success in the minor leagues, the Marlins were uninterested in calling him back up and seemed to have already given up on him. Look for him to be traded come Spring Training of next season.

  • Jeffrey Loria Spends Money (WHAT?)

I know, I know. It is hard to trust a guy like Jeffrey Loria when he says he is going to do something. The Marlins have gone through multiple spending periods that were followed my a complete reversal of strategy and a large selling off. With the increased revenue brought with the new stadium in Miami, the Marlins had promised to spend more money and put a winning team on the field; a promise made to both Giancarlo Stanton, when he signed his long term deal, and to Marlins fans who payed for that new stadium. 2015 was another year of barebones salary and fielding an overall mediocre team, despite some prospects for more success. If I had to guess, it makes the most sense for the Marlins to spend this offseason after a terrible 2015. That is what I am predicting for the Marlins and Loria.

  • Don Mattingly Comes to Town

After firing Mike Redmond around a month into the season, the Marlins owner decided the best course of action was hiring the general manager to also be the manager. This was obviously a ridiculous decision and was bound to fail from the start. After the conclusion of another poor season, Dan Jennings has returned to the front office with the Marlins search beginning for a new manager. Right after the season concluded, there was interest on the Marlins end in current Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. With the Dodgers first round playoff exit, Mattingly was fired as the Dodgers head coach which has paved the way for the Marlins to strike if they so please. While nothing is set in stone at this point, it seems likely that Mattingly will be the new manager of the Marlins sooner rather than later.

Atlanta Braves

  • Braves Dump Some Assortment of Markakis, Bourn, Swisher and Maybin

For a team in a rebuild, still a year or two from contention, the Braves sure do have a lot of albatross contracts for players that really should be playing elsewhere. The Braves should really be focusing on seeing what players they have for the future more than nursing the dying careers of several players with rather large deals. While the acquisitions of Maybin, Bourn and Swisher made some sense, in order to unload the contracts of Craig Kimbrel, Melvin Upton and Chris Johnson, the Braves are now stuck with guys who are just eating money while not contributing much to the on field product. In the case of Markakis, it was even worse, as he was signed to an unnecessary free agent contract by a team with no hope of competing during the deal. Expect the Braves to unload one or even several of these contracts in the offseason.

  • Bring Craig Kimbrel Home

This may sound a little ludicrous of the bat but hear me out here. When the Braves made the decision to trade Kimbrel, the main reason they did so was in order to unload the contract of Melvin Upton. The Braves obviously didn’t need an elite closer during a rebuild but they may have been more interested in keeping Kimbrel because of the hometown allegiance to him. Now that the Padres have sputtered, and seem willing to cut costs, it is not completely out of the realm of possibly that the Braves would attempt to get Kimbrel back from the Padres. This may appear to be a long shot but the Braves certainly have the prospects to give up if they do decide they want Kimbrel back in time for the new stadium to open in 2017. Don’t put anything past the Braves this offseason.

  • Julio Teheran Will Be Traded

Following an up and down 2015 season, it appears that the Braves may be interested in trading Julio Teheran this offseason. The Braves first somewhat shopped the right handed starter at the trade deadline, although no trade occurred at the deadline. Teheran finished the season with more downs than ups, and the Braves may be willing to move on from him if the price is right. The Braves suddenly have a very deep crop of young pitchers and could afford to trade Teheran for a few more bright prospects. Teheran should have a new home for 2016.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • Ryan Howard Ends up Somewhere

The Phillies traded just about everyone from their success of years past. From Jimmy Rollins to Chase Utley to Cole Hamels to Jonathan Papelbon and on and on. Almost all of the Phillies from years past have found themselves new homes. That is except Ryan Howard (and Carlos Ruiz but we’ll get to him later). For a team in the middle of a rebuild, Howard really has now place on the roster at this point. The Phillies pushed to trade Howard at last year’s trade deadline, but his large contract and average on field play did not inspire any believers in any other team’s front offices. At this point, I expect the Phillies to get rid of Howard at any cost, no matter how much money they have to eat or no matter how poor the return is going to be. Howard will not be in a Phillies uniform in 2016.

  • Carlos Ruiz Gets Dumped

Aside from Howard, Carlos Ruiz is also another name that is still remaining on the Phillies roster from their run of playoff success. Ruiz played in barely half of the Phillies games in 2015 in what was the worst year of his entire career by far. Ruiz is now 36 years old and is still under contract for next year. Its apparent that Ruiz has little to no trade value at this point, so it seems likely that the Phillies will cut ties with Ruiz completely, whether they can trade him or release him outright. Expect Ruiz to be out of Philadelphia and perhaps out of baseball in 2016.

  • Trade Cody Asche and/or Domonic Brown

It seems illogical that the Phillies would want to trade two young players with plenty of potential but it actually makes a good deal of sense. Asche really has no position on the diamond with the ascension of Maikel Franco and ended up playing mostly in the outfield last year. This was fine, and Asche is a fine player, but him in the outfield takes away playing time from other players the Phillies could be using and provides somewhat of a detriment on defense. The Phillies are better off trading Asche while he has some value and obtaining more talent. In the case of Domonic Brown, the Phillies have just waited too long for Brown to reach his potential. They are better off attempting to trade him and giving him a change of scenery that he definitely needs. Both Asche and Brown are taking spots that could be filled by Aaron Altherr and Darnell Sweeney, and both should be traded before the start of next season.

Patrick Brewer is a featured writer for Call to the Bullpen. You can find him on Twitter @PatrickBrewer93, or join in the conversation@CTBPod, in the comment section below or on our Facebook Page.

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