Each MLB Team’s Winter Meetings Goals: NL East

The calendar has turned to December, meaning the top executives from each organization and the top agents from around the league gather for the winter meetings. These meetings could determine the shape of the league for years to come. At this year’s meetings in Nashville, teams will go in with a specific goal that they believe will make their team better in 2024 or the future.

Here is each NL East team’s winter meetings goal with the AL already done and the NL coming soon.

The Goals For Each NL East Team at the Winter Meetings

Atlanta Braves: Improve the rotation

The Atlanta Braves were baseball’s best team last season in large part due to the best offense in baseball but there are still improvements to be made. After dealing Kyle Wright to the Royals and with Charlie Morton now over the age of 40, rotation depth has become a concern. The Braves already showed interest in Sonny Gray and Aaron Nola before they signed and are now in on Dylan Cease so look for Atlanta to make some headlines in the pitching market before the end of the week.

Even with Nola and Gray off the table, the market for pitchers is still robust in free agency and trades. Trade candidates Cease, Tyler Glasnow, Shane Bieber, and Corbin Burnes would all be good fits for this Braves team, as would free agents Eduardo Rodriguez, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and Jordan Montgomery. Whoever the Braves target though, they will remain the most talented roster in the entire MLB.

Philadelphia Phillies: Make moves on the perimeter

The Philadelphia Phillies are a team that can always make noise at the winter meetings, even when it isn’t expected, but this year looks like the Phillies will be more focused on making moves around the peripherals. What seems most likely is that they will add to a bullpen that at times seemed to lack depth last season. The bench could also be an area of focus this week as it could be better offensively. Either way, the Phillies will certainly not be silent in Nashville.

On the bench the key area of need is center field, the Phillies are probably aiming to find a bench bat that can play in the outfield to platoon with defensive specialists Johan Rojas and Cristian Pache. Options for that role could be Adam Duvall, Hunter Renfroe, or Tommy Pham. As for the bullpen, they may look to add a bridge between the starter and closer Jose Alvarado. Perhaps Robert Stephenson or Alex Reyes could be good medium-leverage arms.

Miami Marlins: Sign a catcher

After a surprise run to the postseason in 2023, the Miami Marlins will look to take another step forward in 2024 and build on the solid foundation currently in place. The area where improvement is most clearly necessary is catcher, with Jacob Stallings now a free agent, it looks like the Marlins are going to need to find an improvement. The top candidates would be Garver, Martin Maldonado, Yasmani Grandal, or  Austin Hedges.

As it stands right now, the Marlins catching situation is dire, being led by two players who have either never played or not performed at the big league level in their careers. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if they were top prospects but both are over the age of 25 and don’t seem like a sustainable answer for a young team looking to build on a great 2023 season. This week the top priority for the Marlins’ front office is to find a veteran backstop who can contribute even a little bit offensively and help stabilize a young and developing pitching staff.

New York Mets: Find young starting pitching

Last off-season’s strategy did not work for the New York Mets, the idea of spending $80 million on two pitchers whose combined age is 80 was never a good idea and it backfired to the point where they were both traded at the deadline. Now with that money off the books (kind of) and a couple of holes in the rotation, the Mets have an opportunity to learn from their mistakes and bring in some young starters. The top free agent target is Yamamoto but the Mets could look at one of the aces available on the trade market.

If the pursuit of Yamamoto is not successful though, the Mets are in on basically every top starting pitcher. Whether that be free agents Rodriguez, Montgomery, reigning Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, or trade candidates like Glasnow or Bieber. Overall, even after signing Luis Severino earlier in the off-season, the Mets will want to ensure they leave Nashville with a better rotation than the one they came to town with.

Washington Nationals: Don’t accelerate the process

The Washington Nationals are one of the most promising teams in the league. The core is there, the farm system is strong and you can see that they are close to being good again. The only thing that could stand in their way is themselves if they get over-aggressive and try to accelerate the development process with signings and trades. The only thing the Nationals could do is bolster the system even further by trading veterans like Lane Thomas.

The Nationals are at the most fragile point of any rebuild, the point where it’s still too early to add and be competitive but the fans and front office can see the light at the end of the tunnel. This is the part where the successful teams continue to build the farm system towards the goal of winning in two or three years and unsuccessful teams start adding too early, jeopardizing the future and shortening the competitive window substantially. If the Nationals can execute this right, it will go a long way to ensuring their return to relevance is both soon and sustained.

The NL East has been one of the game’s most competitive divisions for years and now with the Braves established as the most talented team in baseball, the Mets and Phillies both being willing to spend and the Marlins returning to relevance after a long rebuild, the division has arguably never been better. That makes it even more important for each team to operate their off-season effectively and make sure they leave the winter meetings in a better position than they came in.

Main Image: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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