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Within an hour of the news the Bryce Harper saga was finally over, a gambling website, BetOnline.ag, sent out an email offering updated odds on the state of the NL East, essentially declaring the Phillies as heavy favorites to win the division.
With Harper on board, signing a 13-year, $330 million contract, the site's odds on the Phillies winning the NL East went from 2-1, a number that already made them co-favorites with the Nationals, to 5-4, or practically an even bet.
That feels like way too much of an overreaction, especially in a division with four legitimate contenders, including the Mets.
If anything, in fact, I'd still make the Nationals slight favorites, based on the pitching they added, as well as their young position players and the likelihood the environment around the ballclub will be looser without the pressure of trying to finally win in the postseason while Harper was still there.
In addition, the Braves are loaded with young talent, and, yes, I give the Mets a shot, based mostly on their pitching, obviously.
But if you're looking for a Mets' wild card, I think it is Pete Alonso. If he can bring a legitimate right-handed slugging presence to their lineup, that would make the offense much more formidable, and, if nothing else, his hot start in Spring Training offers a reason to believe.
Nevertheless, there's no question the Harper deal made this much official: the Phillies won the offseason in the NL East, finally spending some of their "stupid money," as their owner had promised some three months ago.
Who knows, now that they're all-in maybe the Phils will also add to the starting rotation and sign Dallas Keuchel or Gio Gonzalez, both still on the free-agent market.
In any case, with Harper, as well as Manny Machado, finally off the board, it feels like the right time to finally hand out final grades for the offseason work done by the four aforementioned contenders in the NL East.
My, how things have changed since I gave them a "C" as a mid-term offseason grade at the end of December. Since then, the Phillies signed David Robertson, traded with the Marlins for J.T. Realmuto - the best catcher in the game - and now added a difference-making slugger in Harper.
All of that after they'd already signed Andrew McCutchen and upgraded the shortstop position by trading for Jean Segura.
And don't forget dealing Carlos Santana in the Segura trade, getting Rhys Hoskins out of the outfield and back to first base where he belongs.
The Phillies' starting pitching isn't strong enough to call them favorites in the NL East, but if a couple of their young starters make a leap forward, they surely could win it.
And with Harper now on board, they figure to be a force for years to come.
NATIONALS: B +
Never thought I'd give such a favorable grade to a team that lost a superstar to free agency, but it's hard not to like what Nats' GM Mike Rizzo did this winter, adding top-tier starter Patrick Corbin to form a Big Three including Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, as well as Anibal Sanchez, who had a comeback season with the Braves and deepens the Washington rotation.
Rizzo did most of his work early, upgrading the catching situation by signing Kurt Suzuki and trading for Yan Gomes, as well as taking a shot on a comeback from reliever Trevor Rosenthal.
As such I'm sticking with the mid-term grade I gave the Nats, one they fortified since then by signing second baseman Brian Dozier to a one-year deal. It's a smart gamble on a comeback by a second baseman who still managed to hit 21 home runs in an otherwise miserable 2019 season that ended with him playing part-time for the Dodgers in the postseason.
Harper signing in Philly doesn't help Brodie Van Wagenen sell his pitch that the Mets are the team to beat in the NL East, but I did give him a bump from his B- mid-term grade, based largely on the signings since then of Jed Lowrie and Justin Wilson, as well as the depth he added in the likes of J.D. Davis, Keon Broxton, Adeiny Hechavarria, Devin Mesoraco, Hector Santiago and Luis Avilan.
At least now the Mets have an improved chance of surviving the types of injuries that were largely responsible for ruining their last two seasons.
All in all, Van Wagenen made some solid moves to improve the team, most notably the trade for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz, and the signing of Wilson Ramos, but he fell short of doing enough to justify the "come get us" talk.
He also fell short of delivering on the early offseason perception that he was going to be bold and creative in acquiring players. Yes, the Cano deal was outside-the-box, but that was about it, and even that came with an asterisk of sorts in giving up highly-touted prospect Jarred Kelenic.
Also, I still can't completely buy into the Lowrie signing. Not because the 34-year-old is hurt already, but because he's a second baseman who will be playing mostly third base with the Mets, and his signing forced Jeff McNeil to the outfield.
Meanwhile, A.J. Pollock was available as a perfect fit in center field. Maybe the Mets will wind up looking smart for avoiding an injury-plagued player, but the analytically-heavy Dodgers thought he was worth the gamble.
After a surprise NL East title sparked mostly by home-grown young players, it felt like the right time to add key free agents to allow the Braves to build on their 90-win season.
But other than gambling on the return to health of Josh Donaldson, the Braves didn't do much except make a late move to re-sign Nick Markakis.
Who knows, maybe they'll still find a way to get a deal done with Craig Kimbrel, the shut-down closer they need, but they also needed to add a veteran starting pitcher to replace Anibal Sanchez, who had a great year.
They do have plenty of young pitching in their farm system, but will that be enough to keep them at the top of the division? Spending a little more free-agent money would have given them a safety net they may need.