Comings and Goings in the National League East

Tim Hudson arrives in Atlanta.

There has been a lot of movement in the National League East. The Washington Nationals started things with a couple of quick free agent signings and a key trade. Since then, American Leaguers Jon Lieber, Pedro Martinez and Tim Hudson have arrived and Al Leiter has moved south in the divisional geographics.

ATLANTA BRAVES

The Braves acquired RHP Dan Kolb from the Brewers for minor league RHP Jose Capellan and a player to be named later, who turned out to be RHP Alec Zumwalt. RHP Paul Byrd signed a one-year deal with Anaheim. RHP John Smoltz signed a two-year contract with a club option for 2007. RHP Jorge Vasquez was acquired from the Royals in exchange for OF Eli Marrero and cash considerations. RHP Tim Hudson was acquired from the Oakland A's in exchange for RHP Juan Cruz, minor league prospect LHP Dan Meyer and OF Charles Thomas.

ARRIVALS: RHP Tim Hudson (trade with Oakland), RHP Dan Kolb (trade with Milwaukee), RHP Jorge Vasquez (trade with Kansas City).

DEPARTURES: RF J.D. Drew (free agent, signed with Los Angeles), OF Charles Thomas (traded to Oakland), OF Eli Marrero (traded to Kansas City), RHP Juan Cruz (traded with Oakland), RHP Russ Ortiz (free agent, signed with Arizona), RHP Jaret Wright (free agent, signed with Yankees), RHP Antonio Alfonseca (free agent, signed with Florida), RHP Jose Capellan (traded to Milwaukee), OF Dewayne Wise (claimed off waivers by Detroit), RHP Paul Byrd (free agent, signed with Anaheim), LHP Dan Meyer (traded to Oakland).

BIGGEST NEEDS: CF Andruw Jones is the only outfielder left after J.D. Drew became a free agent and Charles Thomas and Eli Marrero both were traded, so the Braves need to figure out who will flank the perennial Gold Glover.

FREE AGENTS: None.

ARBITRATION ELIGIBLE: SS Rafael Furcal, 2B Marcus Giles, INF Mark DeRosa, RHP Chris Reitsma.

Furcal and Giles can expect raises, given that they are the table-setters. Manager Bobby Cox and their teammates believe the offense starts with them. DeRosa, rehabbing from a torn right ACL, is not so lucky; his errors and lack of offense will keep his value down. Reitsma didn't have enviable numbers, but Cox relied on him a lot last season -- too much, actually.

IN LIMBO: CF Andruw Jones continues to be the subject of trade rumors, but he's not going anywhere now that the Braves have lost all of their corner outfielders from the 2004 club.

MEDICAL WATCH: LHP Mike Hampton will have offseason surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. INF Mark DeRosa is rehabbing following surgery to repair a torn right ACL.

FLORIDA MARLINS

The team's primary focus during the offseason will be to shore up the depth in its bullpen, particularly in the back. The Marlins might need to find a starter if free agent Carl Pavano signs elsewhere. They'll also look for a left-handed power bat, but their position spots are pretty much set.

ARRIVALS: LHP Al Leiter (free agent from Mets), RHP Antonio Alfonseca (free agent from Atlanta), RHP John Reidling (free agent from Cincinnati), RHP Todd Jones (free agent from Philadelphia).

DEPARTURES: RHP Armando Benitez (free agent, signed with San Francisco), C Mike Redmond (free agent, signed with Minnesota), RHP David Weathers (free agent, signed with Cincinnati), RHP Rudy Seanez (free agent, signed with San Diego), C Ramon Castro (refused minor league assignment). RHP Billy Koch (released), RHP Aaron Small (refused minor league assignment), INF Wil Cordero (free agent, signed with Washington).

BIGGEST NEEDS: At this point, there's not a whole lot more for the Marlins to do besides continue to try to get a new ballpark built in South Florida. The Marlins addressed their biggest need -- pitching -- with the signings of LHP Al Leiter and RHPs Antonio Alfonseca and Todd Jones (although the Alfonseca deal was on hold because of a problem with his back that turned up in the physical). RHP Guillermo Mota, who struggled in September, figures to be their closer, but Alfonseca and Mota could be flip-flopped during the season depending on who's pitching better.

FREE AGENTS: RHPs Ismael Valdez, Chad Fox and Josias Manzanillo.
Valdez was offered arbitration but turned it down.

ARBITRATION ELIGIBLE: C Paul Lo Duca, RHP Josh Beckett, RHP A.J. Burnett, RHP Guillermo Mota.
The team will offer Lo Duca a two-year deal.

IN LIMBO: RF Juan Encarnacion.
Might be dealt if the team is concerned about the offseason surgery on his left shoulder.

MEDICAL WATCH: RHP Tim Spooneybarger missed all of '04 recovering from Tommy John surgery and will look to become setup man. RHP Chad Fox (sore right elbow) never pitched after April and is a question mark for '05 because of a sore elbow. RF Juan Encarnacion underwent surgery on his left shoulder in October. SS Alex Gonzalez has surgery on his elbow in October. 1B Jeff Conine had surgery on his shoulder in October.

NEW YORK METS

ARRIVALS: RHP Pedro Martinez (free agent from Boston), LHP Felix Heredia (trade with Yankees).

DEPARTURES: RF Richard Hidalgo (free agent, signed with Texas), LHP Al Leiter (free agent, signed with Florida), LHP Mike Stanton (traded to Yankees), RHP Grant Roberts (released), RHP Jose Parra (released).

BIGGEST NEEDS: The Mets still need to address their first-base situation and find a power bat in the outfield. If Mike Piazza returns to New York it will be as a catcher, leaving a hole at first base that Jason Phillips is incapable of filling. Only Braden Looper is a lock to return to next season's bullpen.

FREE AGENTS: LHP John Franco, RHP Ricky Bottalico, 1B Mo Vaughn.
Franco and Vaughn both might be finished although there was talk of a Vaughn comeback.

ARBITRATION ELIGIBLE: C Vance Wilson, RHP Scott Strickland, RHP Victor Zambrano.

IN LIMBO: OF Cliff Floyd. The often injured slugger is popular and effective when healthy but is likely to be moved this winter as the club looks to upgrade offensively.

MEDICAL WATCH: RHP Victor Zambrano will not need elbow surgery. He will spend much of the winter rehabbing in hopes that the slight tear in his muscle will heal. OF Mike Cameron will rehab his right hand rather than opt for ligament surgery.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

The Phillies entered the offseason with nine free agents. While they didn't have the same kind of money to spend as they have the last two seasons, when big-ticket acquisitions such as 1B Jim Thome raised the payroll to a franchise-record $93 million, they are pursuing mid-level free agents and trades to fill in around the existing nucleus.

ARRIVALS: CF Kenny Lofton (trade with Yankees), RHP Jon Lieber (free agent from Yankees), LHP Aaron Fultz (claimed on waivers from Minnesota), CF Shane Victorino (Rule 5 draft from Los Angeles).

DEPARTURES: RHP Felix Rodriguez (traded to Yankees), LHP Eric Milton (not offered arbitration), RHP Kevin Millwood (not offered arbitration), RHP Roberto Hernandez (not offered arbitration), RHP Todd Jones (not offered arbitration, signed with Florida), INF Lou Collier (non-tendered), C Michel Hernandez (non-tendered).

BIGGEST NEEDS: The Phillies are still looking for two middle relievers, one left-handed and one right-handed. It's possible that both positions will be filled by pitchers already on the roster.

FREE AGENTS: OF Doug Glanville.
The Phillies have until January 8 to re-sign Glanville, who declined arbitration, or they lose negotiating rights with him until May 1st.

ARBITRATION ELIGIBLE: 2B Placido Polanco, OF Jason Michaels, RHP Vicente Padilla, SS Jimmy Rollins.
Polanco surprised the Phillies by accepting arbitration. Rollins, coming off his best season yet, could be rewarded with his first long term contract. Padilla has electric stuff, but that hasn't translated into consistent success. Since he's in his second year of eligibility and coming off an injury-interrupted season, this could be a bitterly contested negotiation. Michaels is considered a valuable role player.

IN LIMBO: CF Marlon Byrd is very available since the Phillies acquired veteran Kenny Lofton from the Yankees. They could consider offers for RHP Vicente Padilla, who made $2.6 million but is just five games over .500 for the last three years. There have been reports that the team would consider dealing C Mike Lieberthal (who will make $15 million over the next two years) and LF Pat Burrell ($43.5 million over the next four years) to free up salary, but both can veto a trade even if there were teams willing to take on their contracts.

MEDICAL WATCH: LHP Randy Wolf (elbow tendinitis) ended the season on the disabled list. He also had surgery to repair nerve damage in his foot on November 9 but is expected to be fully recovered by spring training. LF Pat Burrell, after an MRI and an ultrasound on his left wrist, decided against having surgery. Burrell sprained the wrist in August, and it was at first believed he would need an operation to repair a subluxing tendon.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS

Having acquired several key position players over the last month, the Nationals continue to search for pitching help. Interim general manager Jim Bowden would like to sign a reliable starting pitcher capable of throwing 180-200 innings and winning 12-15 games. His prime target continues to be free agent LHP Odalis Perez, but Bowden might not have the resources to bring Perez to Washington.

ARRIVALS: OF Jose Guillen (trade with Anaheim), SS Cristian Guzman (free agent from Minnesota), 3B Vinny Castilla (free agent from Colorado), 1B/OF Wil Cordero (free agent from Florida), C Gary Bennett (free agent from Milwaukee), OF J.J. Davis (trade with Pittsburgh), OF Tyrell Godwin (Rule 5 draft from Toronto), INF Tony Blanco (Rule 5 draft from Cincinnati), OF Jeffrey Hammonds (minor league free agent).

DEPARTURES: RF Juan Rivera and SS Maicer Izturis (traded to Anaheim), RHP Rocky Biddle (released), OF Valentino Pascucci (sold to Chibba Lotte of the Japan League), C Einar Diaz (free agent to St. Louis).

BIGGEST NEEDS: A starting pitcher who can throw 180-200 innings and win 12-15 games.

FREE AGENTS: 3B Tony Batista.
The team declined to offer arbitration to Batista, effectively ending his chances of returning in 2005.

ARBITRATION ELIGIBLE: 1B/OF Brad Wilkerson, RHP Tony Armas Jr., RHP Tomo Ohka.

IN LIMBO: 1B Nick Johnson has been the subject of trade rumors.

MEDICAL WATCH: 2B Jose Vidro is rehabbing following late season knee surgery. 1B Nick Johnson is expected to be fully recovered from a broken cheekbone, which knocked him out for the final weeks of the season.

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