Last season, the Milwaukee Brewers (92-70) ended up running away with the National League Central division after finishing nine games ahead of the second-place Chicago Cubs (83-79). The Cincinnati Reds finished in third place and above .500 with an 82-80 record. They were followed by the Pittsburgh Pirates (76-86) and the St. Louis Cardinals (71-91), who uncharacteristically finished in the cellar of the division.
Though the Brewers are coming off of their second division crown in the last three years, they’ve been the only team to have done a fair amount of selling this offseason.
It’s been an action-packed winter in the division. Here are the notable moves from each team.
- Additions: DH Andrew McCutchen (re-signed), LHP Aroldis Chapman, LHP Martín Pérez, LHP Marco Gonzales, 1B Rowdy Tellez, OF/DH Edward Olivares
- Subtractions: RHP Osvaldo Bido
The good news for the Pirates is that they have hardly see anyone depart this winter. The concerning news is that they haven’t made an addition who really pushes the needle all that much.
With that being said, the Pirates have added pieces to all three aspects of the club. Chapman, the most notable addition of the bunch, will provide further help to a unit that already looked like it would be a strength. Pérez, Gonzales and Tellez all fill big needs, but all three are gambles. Pérez and Tellez had down years in 2023, and Gonzales underwent season-ending surgery to his pitching arm.
They may not be done just yet. The Pirates would still like to add to their starting rotation and have been linked to multiple position players.
- Additions: LHP Shota Imanaga, RHP Héctor Neris, INF Michael Busch, RHP Yency Almonte, manager Craig Counsell
- Subtractions: RHP Marcus Stroman, manager David Ross
The Cubs sent shockwaves throughout baseball when they replaced manager David Ross with Counsell, who had an excellent run with the Brewers from 2015-23.
After that, it took a while for the Cubs to make another splash, but they have certainly added some nice pieces. They still might not be done, either. Cody Bellinger remains a free agent, and a reunion with the Cubs seems to be possible.
- Additions: RHP Nick Martínez, RHP Frankie Montas, 1B/3B Jeimer Candelario, RHP Emilio Pagán, LHP Brent Suter, C Luke Maile (re-signed), RHP Buck Farmer (re-signed)
- Subtractions: OF Harrison Bader, OF Nick Senzel
The Reds have been an active team this winter, and like the Pittsburgh Pirates, they haven’t lost much production from last season. Though, they will be without Joey Votto, who is still a free agent.
The veteran additions to the starting rotation should help the impressive young one-two punch of Hunter Greene and Graham Ashcraft. With Candelario now in the equation, Cincinnati has no shortage of infielders.
- Additions: 1B Rhys Hoskins, C Eric Hasse, 1B Jake Bauers, RHP Joe Ross, RHP Taylor Clarke, INF Joey Ortiz, LHP DL Hall, LHP Wade Miley (re-signed), RHP Colin Rea (re-signed), C Gary Sánchez (reported), RHP Jakob Junis (reported), manager Pat Murphy
- Subtractions: RHP Corbin Burnes, RHP Adrian Houser, OF Tyrone Taylor, OF Mark Canha, INF Abraham Toro, 1B Rowdy Tellez, C Victor Caratini, manager Craig Counsell
The Brewers, who will look much different in 2024, had to find a replacement at manager and they ended up promoting bench coach Pat Murphy.
Player-wise, the Brewers have dealt away a number of key contributors, most notably former Cy Young-winner Corbin Burnes. The biggest addition for Milwaukee is Hoskins, who was a key part of the Philadelphia Phillies’ lineup but was sidelined all of last season. They also have an agreement in place with Sánchez, who was a rumored Pirates’ target.
St. Louis Cardinals
- Additions: RHP Sonny Gray, RHP Lance Lynn, RHP Kyle Gibson, RHP Keynan Middleton, DH Matt Carpenter, RHP Andrew Kittredge, RHP Ryan Fernandez (Rule 5)
- Subtractions: OF Tyler O’Neill, RHP Dakota Hudson, C Andrew Knizner
The Cardinals were active early in efforts to completely revamp their starting rotation. Gray finished second in last year’s American League Cy Young race and Lynn went back to where he began his 12-year career.
Of the notable subtractions, the Cardinals shipped O’Neill to the Red Sox after six years in St. Louis.