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Mets NL East Sunday Battleground: Offseason recap and grades

Mar 19, 2021; Port St. Lucie, Florida, USA; New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) hits a grand slam in the fourth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during a spring training game at Clover Park. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 19, 2021; Port St. Lucie, Florida, USA; New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) hits a grand slam in the fourth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during a spring training game at Clover Park. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
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Mar 7, 2021; North Port, Florida, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Charlie Morton (50) pitches in the third inning during spring training at CoolToday Park. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 7, 2021; North Port, Florida, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Charlie Morton (50) pitches in the third inning during spring training at CoolToday Park. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves

Notable Additions: INF/OF Ehire Adrianza, OF Abraham Almonte, 3B Jake Lamb, SP Charlie Morton, OF Marcell Ozuna, SP Drew Smyly, RP Josh Tomlin.

Notable Subtractions: RP Jhoulys Chacin (NYY), INF Charlie Culberson (TEX), OF Adam Duvall (MIA), C Tyler Flowers (FA), SP Mike Foltynewicz (TEX), RP Shane Greene (FA), SP Cole Hamels (FA), INF Adeiny Hechavarria (FA), OF Nick Markakis (Retired), RP Mark Melancon (SD), RP Darren O’Day (NYY), SP Tommy Milone (FA).

The Braves have won three straight division titles and are well equipped to win their fourth straight this season. They will be led by reigning National League MVP Freddie Freeman who finally did what he’s done against the Mets his entire career against everyone else. They also have superstar outfielder Ronald Acuba Jr. who will help lead them in 2021.

They were up 3-1 in the NLCS against the Dodgers before losing in seven hard-fought games. They are well-positioned to get back to the postseason and maybe right their wrong but will attempt to do so looking a little bit different.

The Braves have a stacked lineup and really didn’t need to do too much to it other than maybe add a third baseman. Austin Riley is serviceable but I thought they might’ve been wise to go after someone like Justin Turner or maybe trade for Kris Bryant.

The Braves were very intent on keeping Marcell Ozuna and did on a four-year $65 million-dollar deal. Ozuna enjoyed a monster 2020 campaign with the Braves and has re-upped with the Braves. He is more suited to be a DH so unfortunately for them he has to play left field and hopefully not be too much of a liability there. His bat is crucial to their lineup so it was a good thing that he was brought back.

The other big move they made was signing Charlie Morton to a one-year $15 million-dollar deal. Morton is someone I was hoping the Mets might get their hands on, but he chose to go to Atlanta. While he was not at his best during the regular season in 2020 and battled injuries, Morton excelled in the postseason once again and got the Rays to the World Series.

For a team with a young rotation headlined by Max Fried and Mike Soroka, the addition of the veteran who has pitched extremely well in the biggest moments before will be huge for them.

Their rotation consisting of Fried, Soroka, Morton, Ian Anderson, and one of Drew Smyly or Kyle Wright should be very good.

While I love the Morton and Ozuna deals, I do not like the losses in the bullpen. One of their strengths last year was the bullpen. They lost their closer Mark Melancon and a really reliable arm in Darren O’Day. They do still have good arms like Will Smith and Chris Martin but their bullpen is not nearly as scary as it was last season.

Overall, I think bringing back Ozuna was key and Morton was a really good signing. If they improved third base or brought in a reliever I’d say the Braves are the clear favorite but I’m not sure I can say that right now. They’d be my pick to win the division but I expect the Mets to be right in the thick of it.

Grade: B

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