The Uptons give the outfield a lot of speed and the Braves lineup two very solid bats to replace Michael Bourn (free agent) and Martin Prado (traded to Arizona). The addition of the two gives the Braves an upgrade over last season, but they did have to give up Prado and some talented young prospects to get Justin Upton from Arizona. Heyward had a return to form last season after slumping in his sophomore season in 2011.
With three speedy outfielders, it won't be easy to get a lot of balls to drop between outfielders in the Braves outfield in 2013.
In Miami, there are two of the three outfield spots filled with young, powerful players in Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison, two of the few players left after another Marlins selling spree this winter. Former Phillies outfielder Juan Pierre was allowed to leave via free agency and signed with the Marlins to give them some speed, although he doesn't provide a lot of defense. It's likely that Pierre will platoon with Justin Ruggiano, another young outfielder who put up decent numbers in 2012. In fact, Ruggiano is likely to get the lions' share of the playing time between the two.
There are no guarantees that either Stanton or Morrison will stay in Miami all season. While the Marlins say they're not looking to deal either of the young outfielders, they are listening to what other teams have to offer for them, so a deadline deal could make a lot of sense for the Marlins and could give a contending team a big addition for a playoff push.
The Mets and Bourn have been flirting with each other for the past few weeks, but neither side seems close to meeting the other side on their demands. The Mets also lost out of outfielder Scott Hairston, who they were interested in re-signing. Hairston signed a two-year deal with the Chicago Cubs after backing off of his demand for $4 million per season.
Right now, the Mets have Lucas Duda as the only holdover from their 2012 team. The Mets acquired Collin Cowgill from Oakland and he's likely going to grab one of the open spots. From there, the options for the third outfielder's job come down to Mike Baxter, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Jordany Valdespin. Not a lot of great options, which is one of the reasons the Mets continue to beat the bushes for a third outfielder.
Philadelphia came into the offseason much like the Braves, looking to rebuid their outfield. They traded both Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence last season and really, had all three outfield jobs up for grabs. The outfield re-do started with a deal that brought Ben Revere from the Minnesota Twins and continued with the signing of free agent Delmon Young, who is somewhat of a question mark himself, coming off surgery and seen as having attitude problems that limit his potential. Add to that the fact that he hasn't played the outfield regularly and he hasn't played in right field - where the Phillies have him penciled in to play - literally in years and it's easy to see that the Phillies have issues.
So far, Revere and Young are the only additions the Phillies have been able to make, which leaves the biggest question mark in left field. The leader right now is Domonic Brown, who is a perennial question mark and has yet to prove himself in the majors. If he stumbles again, September phenom Darin Ruf is there to steal the job. Ruf hit three home runs in a short September audition with the Phillies, but he hasn't played above Double-A, so the question of whether or not he's ready is still there.
Meanwhile, in Washington, the Nationals have Bryce Harper, the NL Rookie of the Year, and Jayson Werth to fill two spots. They could have sat back and went with up-and-coming Roger Bernadina, but instead, they went out and got Denard Span from the Minnesota Twins. The addition of Span gives the Nationals four pretty solid outfielders for three spots, so they not only have talent on the field, but they've got depth.
The outfield is so well set that the Nats were able to deal Mike Morse to Seattle to add other pieces of the puzzle.
Harper doesn't seem destined to go into a sophomore slump like Heyward did in Atlanta and Werth is a proven veteran who can be figured on for his usual strong numbers. Span and Bernadina are both young players who carry a few small question marks, but either or both should be able to make the Washington outfield strong offensively and defensively.
Ranking the NL East outfields:
1. Upton/Upton/Heyward (Atlanta)
2. Span or Bernadina/Harper/Werth (Washington)
3. Stanton/Morrison/Pierre or Ruggiano (Miami)
4. Brown or Ruf/Revere/Young (Philadelphia)
5. Duda/Cowgill and whoever (New York Mets)