• MLB Opening Day Roster Predictions Part One: NL East

     

    As SportsEthos’ NBA Front Office Expert, the NBA offseason is my cup of tea. However, evidenced by my monster trade deadline primer from this past MLB trade deadline, I am pretty savvy with baseball front office stuff as well. In that trade deadline primer, I listed every buyer and every seller for our readers, who we anticipated to be moved, and explained what each team was trying to accomplish. Now, baseball season has come and gone, and the lockout feels like ages ago. With baseball’s offseason in full swing, it’s time to project each team’s 26 man roster on Opening Day 2023. Forgive me for trying to project batting orders. Anyway, let’s start with the National League East.

     

    Atlanta Braves

    The Lineup:

    1. Ronald Acuna (RF)
    2. Ozzie Albies (2B)
    3. Austin Riley (3B)
    4. Matt Olson (1B)
    5. Travis d’Arnaud (C)
    6. William Contreras (DH)
    7. Michael Harris (CF)
    8. Marcell Ozuna (LF)
    9. Vaughn Grissom (SS)

     

    Bench Bats:

    Eddie Rosario

    Sam Hilliard

    Aledmys Diaz

    Jesus Aguilar

     

    The Rotation:

    1. Max Fried (L)
    2. Kyle Wright (R)
    3. Spencer Strider (R)
    4. Charlie Morton (R)
    5. Bryce Elder (R)

     

    The Bullpen:

    Closer: Raisel Iglesias (R)

    Mike Soroka (R)

    AJ Minter (L)

    Collin McHugh (R)

    Kirby Yates (R)

    Dylan Lee (L)

    Nick Anderson (R)

    Adam Ottavino (R)

     

    Summary:

    The one notable omission from this team is All-Star shortstop, Dansby Swanson. Not only is Swanson missing, but aside from Ottavino, I have the Braves pretty much staying put. In 2021 they won the World Series and in 2022 they won 101 games. Not only that, but they have added three stud rookies to the fold, two of which made the adjustment straight from AA to the majors. In the event that Atlanta re-signs Swanson, it would likely push rookie phenom Vaughn Grissom to the outfield with Ozzie Albies now healthy. The Braves M.O. is to lock guys up long-term, buy out their arbitration years, and get them for a bargain later in the contract. It was reported that the Braves initially offered Swanson $100 million to stay in Atlanta, which is what he prefers, but that money isn’t even close to getting a deal done, as I have Swanson signing a five-year/$155 million deal with his new team. It is an embarrassment of riches for Braves fans, and Swanson would be a luxury more than anything at this point. The lone signing I have the Braves making is for reliever Adam Ottavino on a two-year, $12 million deal.

     

    I have Mike Soroka coming out of the bullpen, mostly because nobody can anticipate what he will look like coming off two straight torn Achilles. For now, I put Bryce Elder as the fifth starter, with Ian Anderson starting the season in the minors. If Soroka looks as good as he was pre-injury, I anticipate the Braves trading some of their surplus of pitching depth. Finally, early returns on Jacob deGrom’s free agency pegged the Braves as a potential landing spot, but signing Charlie Morton to an extension through 2023 put those rumors to bed.

     

    New York Mets

    The Lineup:

    1. Brandon Nimmo (CF)
    2. Starling Marte (RF)
    3. Francisco Lindor (SS)
    4. Pete Alonso (1B)
    5. Jeff McNeil (2B)
    6. Mark Canha (LF)
    7. Daniel Vogelbach (DH)
    8. Brett Baty (3B)
    9. Francisco Alvarez (C)

     

    Bench Bats:

    James McCann

    Eduardo Escobar

    Darin Ruf

    Ben Gamel

     

    The Rotation:

    1. Max Scherzer (R)
    2. Brandon Woodruff (R)
    3. Carlos Carrasco (R)
    4. Andrew Heaney (L)
    5. Tylor Megill (R)

     

    The Bullpen:

    Closer: Edwin Diaz (R)

    Andrew Chafin (L)

    Seth Lugo (R)

    Drew Smith (R)

    Joey Luccheshi (L)

    David Peterson (L)

    Pierce Johnson (R)

    John Curtiss (R)

     

    Summary:

    Since taking over as owner as the Mets, the one thing Steve Cohen has done is spend a lot of money and this offseason should be no different. The biggest decision for the Mets will be whether or not to re-sig Jacob deGrom. While deGrom is a two-time Cy Young Award winner and one of the best pitchers in the league, he has a lot of durability concerns as he has missed the better part of the past two seasons with elbow and shoulder injuries. That’s not something you want to see from your ace pitcher. Meanwhile, the Mets also have a decision to make on starting centerfielder Brandon Nimmo. The Mets also have free agent pitchers such as starters Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker (along with deGrom), as well as relievers Adam Ottavino, Seth Lugo, and Trevor May. As a result, despite being willing to spend major money, Cohen and the Mets are going to have to rebuild this pitching staff.

     

    Here, the Mets were able to retain Brandon Nimmo and Seth Lugo, while basically every other free agent signed elsewhere. For Nimmo, I projected the Mets to retain him on a five-year, $94 million deal. For deGrom, rumor has it that the Mets are hesitant to offer him a four-year deal due to the injury concerns previously mentioned at an annual value similar to what the Mets paid ace Max Scherzer last offseason. As a result, I have deGrom leaving for a team that offered him that fourth year on his contract. To replace deGrom, Chris Bassitt, and Taijuan Walker, I have the Mets acquiring two replacements. The better of the two pitchers is Brandon Woodruff of the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers do not typically pay big money to their players, and with Woodruff and Corbin Burnes both hitting free agency in the same offseason in 2025, it is unlikely the Brewers will keep both. It doesn’t necessarily mean the Brewers will be in a rush to trade one of those guys, but if they can get the proper haul of prospects for either of them a la the Josh Hader trade, there is a strong possibility that they might. In this hypothetical trade, the Mets would trade Ronnie Mauricio, Mark Vientos, Dominic Smith, and Matthew Allan. That’s three of the top eight prospects in the Mets’ organization in addition to Smith, and I think it’s something the Brewers would strongly consider. We saw the Mets do something similar to acquire Chris Bassitt from the A’s last offseason; however, Bassitt only had one year left of team control at the time. Woodruff’s projected arbitration salary this year is roughly $11 million, and even though the Mets have to give up some big time prospects to get him, that’ll save them some major money compared to what they’d be paying deGrom.

     

    For the bullpen, retaining Edwin Diaz was a priority. We saw the Mets recently make Diaz the first $100 million man as a reliever, and it was very needed. However, the Mets rebuilt their bullpen here. Seth Lugo has been as dependable as they come for the Mets since converting to a reliever in 2018. I have the Mets retaining him on a three-year, $24 million deal. The Mets also need a lefty out of the bullpen, as David Peterson and Joey Lucceshi could both get shots in the rotation once injuries start to occur. Therefore, the Mets go out and get the best lefty reliever on the market in Andrew Chafin for a two-year, $15 million deal. Finally, the Mets round out their rebuilt bullpen with former Padre, Pierce Johnson, on a one-year, $4.4 million deal.

     

    Philadelphia Phillies

    The Lineup:

    1. Kyle Schwarber (LF)
    2. Trea Turner (SS)
    3. Bryce Harper (DH)
    4. JT Realmuto (C)
    5. Rhys Hoskins (1B)
    6. Alec Bohm (3B)
    7. Nick Castellanos (RF)
    8. Bryson Stott (2B)
    9. Brandon Marsh (CF)

     

    Bench Bats:

    Garrett Stubbs

    Edmundo Sosa

    Nick Maton

    Matt Vierling

     

    The Rotation:

    1. Zack Wheeler (R)
    2. Aaron Nola (R)
    3. Ranger Suarez (L)
    4. Zach Eflin (R)
    5. Ross Stripling (R)

     

    The Bullpen:

    Closer: Aroldis Chapman (L)

    Seranthony Dominguez (R)

    Jose Alvardo (L)

    Connor Brodon (R)

    Bailey Falter (L)

    Andrew Bellatti (R)

    Nick Nelson (R)

    Sam Coonrod (R)

     

    Summary:

    Since winter meetings went underway, the Phillies have always been the speculated landing spot for Trea Turner. It has been reported that Turner wants to play on the east coast and even team up with former teammate, Bryce Harper. The Phillies let Jean Segura walk, so they have an easy hole in the middle infield to replace and can easily shift Bryson Stott to second base. I have Turner signing an 8-year, $264 million contract with the defending National League champions. Meanwhile, with Noah Syndergaard, Kyle Gibson, and Zach Eflin all as free agents, the Phillies need multiple starting pitchers to replace them. The question is whether Mick Abel, Andrew Painter, or Griff McGarry are going to be able to crack the opening day rotation in lieu of the Phillies signing multiple starters. Keep in mind the Phillies not only paid the luxury tax for first time in franchise history this past year, but they’re having a whole slew of money coming off the books and can afford Turner plus multiple starters and a good bullpen arm while still staying under the tax.

     

    For the starting pitchers, I speculated that they re-signed Zach Eflin to a three-year $36 million deal. Eflin opted out of a $15 million option for this upcoming season in hopes to secure a more lucrative guarantee which leads me to believe he’ll be ready to be a starter again next year rather than the relief role we saw him in in the playoffs. For the fifth starter, I wanted a swing guy, a guy the Phillies can utilize as a starter and then out of the bullpen when Abel/Painter/McGarry are ready for their shots in the Show. Ross Stripling was the perfect guy for that role. I have Stripling signing a two-year, $18 million deal to be that spot starter/long reliever, and he is someone the Phillies can trust more than Bailey Falter.

     

    Keep in mind when writing this that I’m a Phillies fan. And as a Phillies fan, I would absolutely HATE the idea of signing Aroldis Chapman. He might be cooked. But he might not be. He clearly was unhappy with his role on the Yankees after being dethroned for the closing gig to the point where he skipped mandatory team meetings/practices and was left off the playoff roster as a result. I have Chapman signing a two-year, $26 million deal with the Phillies with a mutual option in year two. That’s a lot of money given the season he just had and it is a signal that the Phillies would be willing to pay based off reputation more than anything else. My line of thinking was that not only do the Phillies not have a solidified closer (Jose Alvarado and Seranthony Dominguez would likely split that role), but elite lefty relievers are hard to come by. Again, I don’t believe Chapman is elite anymore, but he can make a dangerous tandem with Alvarado and Dominguez.

     

     

    Miami Marlins

    The Lineup:

    1. Jon Berti (LF)
    2. Jazz Chisholm (2B)
    3. Garrett Cooper (1B)
    4. Alejandro Kirk (C)
    5. Jorge Soler (DH)
    6. Avisail Garcia (RF)
    7. Alek Thomas (CF)
    8. Brian Anderson (3B)
    9. Miguel Rojas (SS)

     

    Bench Bats:

    Jacob Stallings

    Joey Wendle

    Jesus Sanchez

    JJ Bleday

     

    The Rotation:

    1. Sandy Alcantara (R)
    2. Jesus Luzardo (L)
    3. Edward Cabrera (R)
    4. Trevor Rogers (L)
    5. Chris Archer (R)

     

    The Bullpen:

    Closer: Tanner Scott (L)

    Dylan Floro (R)

    Richard Bleier (L)

    Steven Okert (L)

    Elieser Hernandez (R)

    Mychael Givens (R)

    Daniel Castano (L)

    Braxton Garrett (L)

     

    Summary:

    It’s the worst kept secret in the MLB that the Marlins are after hitting. They may have the most organizational depth in the league. They signed Jorge Soler and Avisail Garcia last year and did not see a boost to their offense. They also went after Nick Castellanos. So let’s try this again, shall we? SportsEthos’ fantasy baseball analyst, Joe Orrico, is going to hate me for trading his beloved Alejandro Kirk for Pablo Lopez. It would probably take Lopez plus a few prospects to get that deal done, but with the Marlins’ surplus of pitching throughout the entire organization and the Blue Jays’ surplus of three good catchers, I made the swap. Kirk is one of the best hitting catchers in the league and would immediately be the Marlins clean-up hitter. Otherwise, the Diamondbacks have a surplus of outfielders now with Corbin Carroll in the majors and the rise of Jake McCarthy. As a result, Alek Thomas may be the odd man out. Aside from Chisholm, the Marlins needed another lefty bat, and we’ve seen these teams make a deal before (See Zac Gallen for Jazz Chisholm swap) so that trade partnership made sense. With Sixto Sanchez and Eury Perez in the minors and Max Meyer recovering from Tommy John surgery, I added Archer to a one-year, $3.5 million deal last year, a similar deal he got with the Twins last year. Archer, Elieser Hernandez, and Braxton Garrett have all proven to be somewhat capable as starters and can compete for that fifth rotation spot until Sanchez or Perez are healthy.

     

    I also debated adding a closer to the Marlins but despite having one of the better rotations in the majors, they are not ready to compete quite yet, as they’re coming off a 93-loss campaign. Scott posted big strike out numbers last year and is the best option the Marlins would have to close out games, but he is serviceable for now. I did add journeyman reliever, Mychael Givens, to the fold though on a one-year, $4 million deal. The Marlins are not yet on the level of their division counterparts the Mets, Braves or Phillies, but they’re getting there slowly but surely.

     

    Washington Nationals

    The Lineup:

    1. Lane Thomas (RF)
    2. CJ Abrams (SS)
    3. Brandon Belt (1B)
    4. Luke Voit (DH)
    5. Joey Meneses (LF)
    6. Keibert Ruiz (C )
    7. Keston Hiura (2B)
    8. Luis Garcia (3B)
    9. Victor Robles (CF)

     

    Bench Bats:

    Riley Adams

    Yadiel Hernandez

    Carter Kieboom

    Jonathan Villar

     

    The Rotation:

    1. Josiah Gray (R)
    2. Stephen Strasburg (R)
    3. Patrick Corbin (L)
    4. McKenzie Gore (L)
    5. Cade Cavalli (R)

     

    The Bullpen:

    Closer: Kyle Finnegan (R)

    Carl Edwards Jr. (R)

    Hunter Harvey (R)

    Victor Arano (R)

    Erick Fedde (R)

    Anibal Sanchez (R)

    Paolo Espino (R)

    Mason Thompson (R)

     

    Summary:

    Despite the Nationals being in complete rebuild mode, they still sign a bat and trade for one, potentially to move later on as the trade deadline approaches. For the signing, the Nationals sign ex-Giant, Brandon Belt to a one-year $11 million deal. As for the trade, the Nationals take a swing on Keston Hiura of the Milwaukee Brewers. Hiura has three years left of team control and after a great rookie year in 2019, he has since fallen out of favor so I can’t imagine it taking a lot to obtain him from Milwaukee. As for pitching, I’m sure the Nationals would love to trade Stephen Strasburg or Patrick Corbin, even if they have to pay the majority of their remaining deal. Maybe that happens around the trade deadline if each of them can rehabilitate their value a bit, but both players’ value is at an all-time low. As for Cade Cavalli, it’s possible he doesn’t start next year in the rotation and that’s why I had Anibal Sanchez re-sign for on a one-year deal.

     

     

    Be on the look out for part two of this article, where we look at projected 2023 Opening Day rosters for the NL Central!

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