After the Braves won the division in 2020 and were a win away from the World Series, the rest of the NL East made some major moves to get on their level.
Every team except maybe the Marlins made major additions to their roster for what appeared for the better. Some moves have worked out and some haven't, which is why it's time to look at the biggest swings the NL East made before the 2021 season and see how they stack up against each other.
6. Braves re-sign Marcell Ozuna
The Braves acquired Ozuna before the 2020 season and he was a major reason why they came so close to beating the Dodgers in the NLCS. But just four months after inking him to a four-year, $65 million deal to keep him in the middle of their lineup long-term, Ozuna was arrested May 29 and charged with aggravated assault strangulation and misdemeanor battery in a domestic violence incident. It's unclear when Ozuna will get back on the baseball field, if ever.
5. Mets trade for and extend Francisco Lindor
The Mets were major players in the offseason and made perhaps the biggest move of any team in the majors by trading for superstar shortstop Franciso Lindor and then signing him to a massive, 10-year, $341 million extension.
Lindor's career with the Mets hasn't gotten off to the best start, however. He's hitting .217 with six home runs and 40 strikeouts. The power he displayed in Cleveland hasn't been there yet and it's held the Mets back from really taking control of the division through the first 60 games.
This move doesn't look great now, but the Mets won't complain about acquiring an elite talent and then securing him for a decade. Lindor's best days are likely still ahead of him.
4. Phillies upgrade their bullpen
The Phillies had the worst bullpen in the league last season with an astounding 7.06 ERA from relief pitchers. Matt Klentak neglected to add hard-throwing, impactful arms to the bullpen throughout his tenure as general manager, and it was one of the first areas Dave Dombrowski addressed when he took over as president of baseball operations.
By adding Jose Alvarado, Archie Bradley and Sam Coonrod to the bullpen, their collective ERA has come down to 4.46. It's still a bottom-10 ERA in the majors and the Phillies have 14 blown saves on the year, but this bullpen has gone from utterly helpless to semi-dependable. Relatively speaking, that's a major jump.
3. Nationals sign Kyle Schwarber
There is no such thing as a bad one-year deal, but Schwarber put that saying to the test during a brutal first month of the 2021 season, where he hit .206 and struck out in a third of his at-bats. Now that April is over, the left fielder is starting to provide the power Washington's lineup desperately needed around Juan Soto and Trea Turner.
His OPS is up to .784 and leads the team in home runs with 13. If Schwarber can continue to produce in the middle of the lineup and hold his own defensively in the outfield, the Nats' lineup has a serious chance at turning things around and putting some wins together over the summer.
2. Phillies re-sign J.T. Realmuto
The Phillies appeared reluctant to give a ton of money to a catcher at the beginning of the offseason, but after a long process, they finally decided to re-sign All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto to a five-year, $115 million deal. Realmuto hasn't given them any reason to regret that decision either.
He's slashing .294/.402/.477 with six homers and 26 RBI. A few injuries have kept him out of the lineup for short stints over the first few months of the year, but all in all, Realmuto's been more than solid for Philadelphia. Not only that, but the Phillies re-signing him kept him away from a potential Mets contract that would've made that team an absolute powerhouse.
1. Mets sign Taijuan Walker
The Mets wanted to add pitching depth by sighing Taijuan Walker to a two-year deal in the offseason, but you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone who expected him to look as good as he has this season. Walker's posting a 2.07 ERA through 11 starts to go along with 60 strikeouts in 61 innings.
With Noah Syndergaard's prolonged absence from the rotation, Walker has become a real weapon behind Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman as the Mets hold a strong lead atop the division. Without Walker's production, the Mets are probably sitting around .500 like the rest of their NL East rivals.