There are three genuine contenders this season, not only for the National League East Division, but also for the actual World Series title.
Two sides coming off a 101-win season and the reigning National League Champions means this Division is absolutely stacked with stars. Firstly, who will win the Division?
It was hard to judge the New York Mets last season. They were pipped at the post by the Atlanta Braves, so missed out on the Divisional title, which would have been their first since 2015.
They led the Division for so long and to lose it from their grasp in the final two series must have been heartbreaking.
To then go and lose over three games in the Wild Card playoff series to the San Diego Padres was more down to disappointment than heartbreak.
While it shows the Mets have got what it takes to compete, have they got enough to get over the line?
The Mets have revamped their rotation this offseason. Owner Steve Cohen has added Justin Verlander to Max Scherzer for an effective 1-2 punch. However can they keep their veterans fit?
They lost Jacob deGrom to the Texas Rangers, but replaced him with Japanese star Kodai Senga. Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker have also opted for free agency and gone elsewhere, so the Mets added Jose Quintana, but he will be out now for three months. Carlos Carrasco, Tylor McGill and David Peterson will have to pick up the slack.
The Mets have already lost Edwin Diaz for the season following a knee injury in the World Baseball Classic, so they need to bubble wrap their pitchers and this could cost them.
The 2021 World Series champions and five times in a row NL East Division championship holders lost a key player yet again in the offseason.
Just like Freddie Freeman the season before, this time it was Dansby Swanson who decided to test the waters elsewhere. Swanson has decided to join the rebuilding Chicago Cubs and, while this may mean that the Atlanta Braves are looking to ex-Milwaukee Brewer, Orlando Arcia at shortstop before rookie Vaughn Grissom is ready, it still makes them a formidable outfit.
With the top two NL rookies, center-fielder Michael Harris II and hard throwing right-hander Spencer Strider, they must play strong supporting roles to outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr and pitcher Max Fried.
The Braves aren’t going away anytime soon, especially as they have locked up most of their young players for the next 10 years.
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The Philadelphia Phillies will be without Bryce Harper for at least the first two months of the season as he recovers from an elbow injury.
Harper and the Phillies lit up the playoffs last season as they went all the way to the World Series, finally running out of gas when they played the Houston Astros.
The Phillies are expected to lose their first baseman Rhys Hoskins for the entire season after he tore his ACL.
Despite this disappointment, the news over the offseason was much better as they secured the signing of shortstop Trea Turner, who was a star for the USA in the recent World Baseball Classic. Turner is +1000 to win the NL MVP award for 2023.
Following up last year’s heroics will be a tough ask, however they have the players to do it.
Two of these three sides will surely be the Wild Card contenders yet again, but in which order will they finish?
This season the Miami Marlins will be making a push for a Wild Card spot as they one of the best young rotations in the Major Leagues. They have also added some power in their lineup with the trade for Luis Arraez, the American League Batting champion for 2022 when he was with the Minnesota Twins.
They have also added free agent and two-time All-Star Jean Segura.
Although the Arraez trade cost them Pablo Lopez, they still have Sandy Alcantara (NL Cy Young award winner for 2022) followed by Johnny Cueto for experience and Braxton Garrett and Trevor Rogers.
The Nationals have finished last every season in their Division since their 2019 World Series title win and no-one is expecting them to improve this season.
Stars such as Turner, Scherzer and Juan Soto are long gone and the rebuild of the side is centred on the Soto trade.
CJ Abrams, Keibert Ruiz and starting pitchers Mackenzie Gore and Josiah Gray are now locked in as part of Washington’s development.
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