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NL East teams at the start of spring training

February 8, 2019
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File-This Sept. 14, 2018, file photo shows Atlanta Braves left fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. (13) hitting a ball for a triple in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals in Atlanta. Acuna, helped the Atlanta Braves accelerate their rebuilding schedule in 2018, when they were the surprise winners of the NL East. The next challenge will be for the Braves, preparing for their last spring training at their Disney complex in Kissimmee, Florida, to defend that division title and move closer to their first World Series since 1999. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
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File-This Sept. 14, 2018, file photo shows Atlanta Braves left fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. (13) hitting a ball for a triple in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals in Atlanta. Acuna, helped the Atlanta Braves accelerate their rebuilding schedule in 2018, when they were the surprise winners of the NL East. The next challenge will be for the Braves, preparing for their last spring training at their Disney complex in Kissimmee, Florida, to defend that division title and move closer to their first World Series since 1999. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

A team-by-team look at the National League East entering spring training, including key players each club acquired and lost, and dates of the first workout for pitchers and catchers, and the full squad:

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Atlanta Braves

Manager: Brian Snitker (fourth season).

2018: 90-72, first place, lost to Dodgers in Division Series.

Training Town: Kissimmee, Florida.

Park: Champion Stadium.

First Workout: Feb. 16/21.

He’s Here: 3B Josh Donaldson, C Brian McCann, C Raffy Lopez, pitching coach Rick Kranitz.

He’s Outta Here: C Kurt Suzuki, RHP Anibal Sanchez, RHP Brandon McCarthy, RHP Brad Brach, 3B Ryan Flaherty, RHP Peter Moylan, 1B Lucas Duda, C Rene Rivera, OF Lane Adams, pitching coach Chuck Hernandez.

Going campin’: The 2018 Baby Braves were a surprise breakthrough team, winning the club’s first NL East championship since 2013. A repeat title in a tougher NL East might be a bigger challenge. A key to the start of spring will be the health of Donaldson, who signed a one-year, $23 million deal after a left calf strain spoiled much of his 2018 season with Toronto and Cleveland. The Braves need Donaldson, the 2015 AL MVP, to add more punch to the middle of their lineup, especially after the team re-signed Nick Markakis instead of pursuing a power hitter for the outfield. Donaldson and McCann, whose Atlanta homecoming should be a big hit with fans, add veteran voices to a clubhouse packed with such youngsters as 2018 NL Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna Jr. and second baseman Ozzie Albies. Acuna and Albies are rising stars. Freddie Freeman, who finished fourth in last year’s NL MVP vote, remains the figurehead of the franchise. Another key this spring will be the competition between a long list of young pitchers to join Mike Foltynewicz, Kevin Gausman, Sean Newcomb and Julio Teheran in the rotation. Foltynewicz enjoyed his much-anticipated breakout season in 2018, when he was an All-Star. Newcomb had a strong first half before fading and finishing with a still-respectable 3.90 ERA. Now another young starter needs to emerge. Candidates include right-handers Mike Soroka, Touki Toussaint and Kyle Wright, and left-handers Kolby Allard and Luiz Gohara.

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Washington Nationals

Manager: Dave Martinez (second season).

2018: 82-80, second place.

Training Town: West Palm Beach, Florida.

Park: The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

First Workout: Feb. 14/19.

He’s Here: LHP Patrick Corbin, RHP Anibal Sanchez, C Yan Gomes, 2B Brian Dozier, RHP Kyle Barraclough, RHP Trevor Rosenthal, C Kurt Suzuki, RHP Tanner Rainey, 1B Matt Adams.

He’s Outta Here: OF Bryce Harper, C Matt Wieters, RHP Tanner Roark, RHP Joaquin Benoit, RHP Jefry Rodriguez, LHP Tim Collins.

Going campin’: As spring training nears, it’s still not clear where Harper will end up. The star slugger is a free agent and, while Washington made an effort to keep him, it’s not as if GM Mike Rizzo sat around waiting to find out whether the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year and 2015 NL MVP would stay or go. The Nationals were as busy as anyone this offseason and will head to camp with more than a third of the roster turned over, including Corbin — who arrived as a free agent for $140 million and will slot in behind Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg in the rotation. Dozier and the catching duo of Gomes and Suzuki are also new to Washington. The bullpen has fresh arms, too, including the hard-throwing Rosenthal, who is coming off reconstructive elbow surgery, and Barraclough. It makes sense that Rizzo would do more than tweak his roster after a disappointing 2018, when the Nationals never got going under rookie skipper Martinez and missed the playoffs after two consecutive NL East titles. Martinez says he plans to emphasize fundamentals this spring.

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Philadelphia Phillies

Manager: Gabe Kapler (second season).

2018: 80-82, third place.

Training Town: Clearwater, Florida.

Park: Spectrum Field.

First Workout: Feb. 13/18.

He’s Here: C J.T. Realmuto, SS Juan Segura, OF Andrew McCutchen, RHP David Robertson, LHP Jose Alvarez, LHP James Pazos, RHP Juan Nicasio, C Drew Butera.

He’s Outta Here: 1B Carlos Santana, C Jorge Alfaro, INF J.P. Crawford, C Wilson Ramos, INF Asdrubal Cabrera, LHP Luis Avilan, OF Jose Bautista, 1B Justin Bour, RHP Luis Garcia, LHP Aaron Loup.

Going campin’: The Phillies were a surprise contender for much of last season and led their division with the second-best record in the National League one week into August before they collapsed. They went 16-33 over the final 49 games and finished with a losing record for the sixth straight year. Philadelphia is still chasing Bryce Harper and Manny Machado but already upgraded the infield, outfield and bullpen. Realmuto, Segura and McCutchen will improve a lineup that finished last in batting average (.234), 22nd in runs (4.2 per game) and third in strikeouts (1,520). Robertson gives the team a proven closer who could be used in high-leverage situations in any late inning. Harper or Machado would make the Phillies a serious threat in the NL East. They’re also still in play for free agent lefty Dallas Keuchel and closer Craig Kimbrel.

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New York Mets

Manager: Mickey Callaway (second season).

2018: 77-85, fourth place.

Training Town: Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Park: First Data Field.

First Workout: Feb. 14/18.

He’s Here: GM Brodie Van Wagenen, 2B Robinson Cano, RHP Edwin Diaz, INF Jed Lowrie, C Wilson Ramos, RHP Jeurys Familia, LHP Justin Wilson, OF Keon Broxton, 1B-3B J.D. Davis, LHP Luis Avilan, LHP Hector Santiago, OF Rajai Davis, OF Gregor Blanco, RHP Walker Lockett, RHP Kyle Dowdy, INF Danny Espinosa.

He’s Outta Here: RF-1B Jay Bruce, INF Wilmer Flores, LHP Jerry Blevins, C Kevin Plawecki, RHP Anthony Swarzak, OF Austin Jackson, RHP A.J. Ramos, INF Jose Reyes, RHP Rafael Montero, C Jose Lobaton, INF-OF Jack Reinheimer, RHP Bobby Wahl, RHP Gerson Bautista, RHP Chris Beck, 3B David Wright.

Going campin’: Following a second consecutive losing season, the Mets made an unorthodox move and handed the front-office reins to Van Wagenen, the agent-turned-general manager who used to represent NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, injured slugger Yoenis Cespedes and several other New York players. Van Wagenen went to work upgrading nearly every area on the roster as the Mets were one of baseball’s busiest teams this offseason. He acquired former clients Cano and Lowrie and spent about $80 million on free agents. Rather than chase big stars Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, the Mets wisely acknowledged they had many holes to fill, so they spread that money around and focused on building depth and versatility. The back end of an ineffective bullpen got a much-needed makeover, with the return of Familia (traded away last July) to set up Diaz, who led the majors with 57 saves last season. New York also assumed $100 million of the $120 million owed to Cano over the next five years, offset some by the approximately $35 million the club shed in sending Bruce and Swarzak to Seattle as part of the blockbuster trade that also netted Diaz. Now, well-armed with deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler atop a formidable rotation, the Mets believe they’re legitimate contenders again, even though Cespedes isn’t expected back from surgery on both heels until at least mid-July. There will be plenty to keep an eye on at spring training, including former quarterback Tim Tebow and potential talks on a multiyear contract for deGrom. Power-hitting prospect Peter Alonso tries to win the first base job and catcher Travis d’Arnaud — now second string behind Ramos — looks to return from Tommy John surgery. Jeff McNeil, an impressive rookie last season, shifts from second base to a reserve outfield role, and Broxton could compete with Juan Lagares for playing time in center. New bench coach Jim Riggleman and hitting instructor Chili Davis join Callaway’s staff.

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Miami Marlins

Manager: Don Mattingly (fourth season).

2018: 63-98, fifth place.

Training Town: Jupiter, Florida.

Park: Roger Dean Stadium.

First Workout: Feb. 13/18.

He’s Here: C Jorge Alfaro, INF Neil Walker, OF Curtis Granderson, 1B Pedro Alvarez, OF Victor Victor Mesa, 3B Deven Marrero, RHP Austin Brice, RF Gabriel Guerrero.

He’s Outta Here: C J.T. Realmuto, INF-OF Derek Dietrich, RHP Kyle Barraclough, RHP Nick Wittgren, LHP Dillon Peters.

Going campin’: There will be plenty of scrambling for playing time, and the only jobs that aren’t open are at the top of the rotation (Jose Urena), second base (Starlin Castro) and catcher (Alfaro, acquired from the Phillies in the Realmuto trade). Brian Anderson was one of last year’s few bright spots as a rookie, and Mattingly must decide whether to play him at third base or in right field. Platooning is the likely result at several positions. Camp will provide a chance to evaluate some of the prospects acquired since CEO Derek Jeter’s group bought the team in late 2017. Sorting out the rotation will be Mattingly’s most interesting spring task as he evaluates a group of young, promising arms that includes Pablo Lopez, Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith and Trevor Richards. The Marlins also need to find out how much veterans such as Walker, Granderson and 3B Martin Prado have left.

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