MLB preview: NL East position battles to watch

The National League East could be one of the most competitive divisions in baseball this MLB season.

The Atlanta Braves finished atop the standings in 2018 and should be contenders to take home the NL East crown once again.

But, the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets improved their teams, while the Washington Nationals also have a talented roster.

Here is one position battle worth following for each NL East team:

 

Mets — Corner infield

The Mets have multiple options at both corner infield spots. They could elect to have top prospect Peter Alonso start at first base with Todd Frazier and newly signed Jed Lowrie splitting time at third.

Or, New York could shift Frazier to first and have Lowrie man third if they opt to send Alonso to the minors to begin the season. Dominic Smith is also in the mix at first base.

Lowrie and Frazier have both been dealing with injuries during spring training, which could open up at-bats for Jeff McNeil.

 

Phillies — Backup outfielder 

The Phillies upgraded their outfield in a major way this offseason. They added Andrew McCutchen, who will likely be the everyday leftfielder, and signed star Bryce Harper to a record-breaking contract. 

Odubel Herrera appears on track to start in centre, which means Nick Williams, Roman Quinn and Aaron Altherr will all be fighting for playing time off the bench.

 

Braves — Catcher

Atlanta inked veteran Brian McCann to a one-year deal in November to pair with Tyler Flowers, who holds a career .239 batting average.

McCann is a seven-time All-Star but struggled last season with the Houston Astros. The two could end up platooning.

 

Nationals — Fifth starter

Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin give the Nationals three strong options atop the rotation, but it gets murky beyond that.

Anibal Sanchez figures to slot in as the fourth starter leaving an open competition for the fifth spot. Jeremy Hellickson, Erick Fedde, Joe Ross and Austin Voth all have a chance to fill that role.

 

Marlins — First base

Veterans Neil Walker and Martin Prado are expected to compete for at-bats at first base for the Miami Marlins. Walker could also see time at second and Prado may spell 25-year-old Brian Anderson at third.

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