We checked in earlier tonight on how things are shaping up for last year’s American League division winners as get set for a new season. Let’s do the same here for the three Senior Circuit clubs that won division titles in 2019…
NL West – Dodgers (106-56; won division by 21 games)
- It’s hard to assess the Dodgers’ roster without knowing if their planned Mookie Betts acquisition will go through. There are many moving parts involved in that deal, as a Betts pickup would send fellow outfielders Alex Verdugo and Joc Pederson, not to mention righty Kenta Maeda, to different teams. Regardless of that, and regardless of what wasn’t an especially active offseason for the Dodgers before the Betts swap, they’re in line to take home their eighth straight division championship in 2020. That said, they’ll face more competition from the Diamondbacks and Padres. Those two teams have enjoyed impressive offseasons, though it’s still difficult to imagine either toppling the juggernaut Dodgers in 2020.
NL East – Braves (97-65; won division by four games)
- The Braves lost a few key free agents in Josh Donaldson, Dallas Keuchel and Julio Teheran, but they still look like a rock-solid club when considering the talent on hand and their new additions. Ronald Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies and Mike Soroka continue to headline their core, and they’ve picked up Will Smith, Marcell Ozuna, Cole Hamels and Travis d’Arnaud in free agency. There’s little doubt the Braves will be very good again in 2020; problem is that they’re stuck in a division with two or three real challengers. The Nationals, last year’s world champions, as well as the Mets and Phillies have done quite a bit of tinkering with their rosters this winter. Even the Marlins have tried to better themselves. All things considered, the NL East is shaping up to be a dogfight this year.
NL Central – Cardinals (91-71; won division by two games)
- Like the NL East, the NL Central should be hotly contested in 2020. The Cardinals ruled by a thin margin last season, but they’ve since had a pretty low-key offseason. For the most part, they’ll be relying on their talent from 2019 to nab another title this year. Luckily for the Cardinals, neither the Brewers nor Cubs look demonstrably better (they’re arguably worse) than they were last season, and the Pirates’ roster is a mess. The Reds have been one of the offseason’s busiest teams, though, and look as if they’ll have a chance to jump from 75-win team to playoff-caliber club in 2020.