By Sam Bush
So, the Phillies have hired a new manager and a new pitching coach.
So, all they need is a boatload of new talent, especially pitchers.
The Phillies’ rotation posted a 4.64 ERA last season, ranking fifth in the difficult National League East.
They have shown a willingness to spend money, so while the club might not find itself in the Gerrit Cole sweepstakes, GM Matt Klentak to pursue a high-profile starter.
Potential free agent targets: Madison Bumgarner and Cole Hamels (above)
Here’s what the rest of the NL East needs:
Atlanta Braves: Catcher
Brian McCann has retired and both Francisco Cervelli and Tyler Flowers are headed for free agency, assuming the Braves don’t pick up Flowers’ $6 million option, leaving a vacancy behind the plate. Whether to bring back third baseman Josh Donaldson will be the biggest decision Atlanta has to make, though Austin Riley can step in and fill the position. But there’s no such answer at catcher as Shea Langeliers and William Contreras, the Braves’ Nos. 5 and 8 prospects, respectively, per MLB Pipeline, aren’t expected to be ready for at least another year.
Potential FA targets: Yasmani Grandal, Martín Maldonado
Miami Marlins: Power bat
The Marlins ranked 29th in the Majors in runs scored, while their .673 OPS was dead last. Miami has $26 million coming off the books as Martín Prado and Starlin Castro are free agents, so there will be some payroll flexibility. The feeling is that the club will spend on lower-cost veterans and some stopgaps as the Marlins continue their rebuild.
Potential FA targets: Justin Smoak, Todd Frazier
New York Mets: Relief pitching
The Mets’ 4.95 bullpen ERA ranked 25th in the Majors, thanks largely to the struggles of Edwin Díaz and Jeurys Familia. Those two will return in 2020, but GM Brodie Van Wagenen needs to add an arm or two in order to lengthen the relief corps and give his new manager more late-inning options.
Potential FA targets: Steve Cishek, Brandon Kintzler