The new year is typically when free agent bargains begin, for teams that set a few million bucks aside. Let's examine the unfinished business for each of the NL East clubs today.
- Braves: Backup outfielder who can handle center field. Someone like Dewayne Wise, Scott Hairston, or even Andruw Jones could work within the Braves' limited payroll flexibility. The Braves will also be seeking a taker for Kenshin Kawakami.
- Marlins: Left-handed hitting bench bat. Catcher John Baker is one candidate. Free agency offers plenty of options – Laynce Nix, Jason Giambi, Joe Inglett, Mark Kotsay, Hank Blalock, Jeremy Hermida, Ryan Church, Casey Kotchman, Gabe Gross, and Jody Gerut, for example.
- Mets: Starting pitcher, lefty reliever, fourth outfielder. The Mets will undoubtedly be bargain shopping, and it's not clear whether they'll manage to add Chris Young or Jeff Francis to the rotation. The market for lefty relievers still features useful, affordable names like Mark Hendrickson and Tim Byrdak.
- Phillies: Taker for Joe Blanton. It seems the Phillies' main remaining goal is to unload Blanton's contract. They could add to the right field mix, but may stick with internal options.
- Nationals: Starting pitcher, first baseman, reliever. The Nats remain in the mix for Carl Pavano and Derrek Lee. Failing those two, they could go in significantly cheaper directions. Casey Kotchman's name has been mentioned. Hard to say whether the Nationals are content with Chad Gaudin and Henry Rodriguez as the bullpen additions.