Josh Harrison received interest from multiple teams before signing his minor league deal with the Phillies yesterday, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link) that the Mets were the runners-up in the race for the veteran infielder. Given that Cesar Hernandez has been widely tabbed as a non-tender candidate, Harrison would seemingly have a smoother path to possible playing time at second base in Philadelphia, whereas Robinson Cano, Jeff McNeil, and Jed Lowrie could all be ahead of Harrison on the depth chart in Queens. Despite the seeming glut of infield talent, it isn’t surprising that the Mets were on the lookout for more depth given that Cano battled both injuries and a downturn in performance in 2019, while Lowrie spent most of the year on the injured list.
More from around the NL East….
- While the Braves have been the winter’s busiest team thus far, their “offseason will rise/fall on [Josh] Donaldson’s decision,” Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution opines. Missing out on Donaldson would leave the team with a big hole in the lineup, and one that couldn’t be entirely filled by another third base addition like Mike Moustakas. As Bradley puts it, “Moustakas is a good player. Donaldson and [Anthony] Rendon are great players.” This take is perhaps rather dismissive of Moustakas’ abilities, as while Donaldson is the better player, there is some upside to inking a lesser third base option — for instance, Atlanta could sign Moustakas and a starting pitcher for the same price it would take to land just Donaldson. While it remains to be seen if Donaldson will be re-signed, Bradley notes that the Braves’ early flurry of signings has quieted some critics who felt the team wasn’t prepared to spend to reinforce its NL East-winning roster.
- The Braves’ quick pace wasn’t by design, however, as GM Alex Anthopoulos tells The Athletic’s Jayson Stark (subscription required). “I’m not in a position to forecast what the rest of our offseason is going to look like because what we’ve done so far was really just circumstance. It just happened to come together the way it did,” Anthopoulos said, noting that the deals with Chris Martin, Darren O’Day, Nick Markakis, and Tyler Flowers were aided by the fact that all four players were already with Atlanta in 2019. As a result, Stark writes that fans might be disappointed if they think Atlanta’s moves or the White Sox moving quickly to sign Yasmani Grandal could signal a busier hot stove season for all 30 teams rather than the slow-moving winters of the last two years.
- Relief pitching looks to be a clear need for the Nationals this offseason…or is it? As Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post observes, the Nats’ early acquisitions of Trevor Rosenthal and Kyle Barraclough last winter ended up as disasters, and the club ended up more or less entirely remaking their bullpen by season’s end. With this in mind, the Nationals might aim lower in picking up any new relievers this offseason because, since relief pitching performance is so hard to predict from year to year, the club might prefer to save such acquisitions for closer to the trade deadline. GM Mike Rizzo “prefers to assess relievers in-season, with fresh data and video to parse through,” Dougherty writes.