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Bryce Harper (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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Would the addition of Bryce Harper make the Phillies the team to beat in the NL East?

It’s February 19 and there is still a plethora of free agents out on the market; including 26-year-old Bryce Harper. Even with guys like Harper, Machado, and Kimbrel still on the market, the NL East seems to be arguably the best division in baseball.

With the exception of the Miami Marlins, the entire division is ready to compete for a division title going into the 2019 season. The Mets, Braves, Nationals, and Phillies have all put their mark on this offseason, making key moves to improve their clubs.

It seems the Philadelphia Phillies are now the favorites to land young phenom Bryce Harper, but will this move make them the favorites in the division? The Phillies have done a tremendous job this offseason acquiring guys like Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson, J.T. Realmuto, and wisely trading away Carlos Santana to allow their young superstar Rhys Hoskins to return to his natural position at first base.

These additions to an already young core of Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco, Scott Kingery, and Rhys Hoskins have definitely solidified this club to become something special; although, it’s still tough to commit to this team being the best in the division. Even if Bryce Harper decides to hop on board.

The Phillies still have many question marks within their rotation, as well as their bullpen. With Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta as their backbone, the rotation is still young and have a lot to prove. Zach Eflin, Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, and others are still young and attempting to find their way in the big leagues. In order to say the Phillies are the best in the division, these guys need to take tremendous strides in 2019.

Despite signing one of the better relief pitchers in all of baseball, David Robertson, the Phillies still have some question marks for the rest of their bullpen. As it stands, Seranthony Dominguez will be right there with Robertson during the later innings to lock down games for the Phillies. But Dominguez is young, and despite a solid 2018 season, isn’t a shoe in for a dominate 2019. They will also rely a lot on Pat Neshek to continue his solid career even at 38-years-old.

Signing Harper will definitely put the Phillies in a great position to win, but we can’t lose sight of the moves the Mets, and Braves have made this offseason; and even if the Nationals do lose Bryce, they’re still in a great position to win. The Nationals have a dominate starting rotation, and core guys like Trea Turner, Juan Soto, and Victor Robles that will power their offense.

Now, of course there are still many free agents out there, and rosters may continue to change. No prediction can be set and stone until we have officially begun the 2019 season. But if Bryce Harper decides to go to Philadelphia, it will make for a major upgrade within the NL East, and may just give them that edge they need to get over the rest of the clubs in the division.

My NL East predictions with or without Bryce Harper:
1) Atlanta Braves
2) New York Mets
3) Philadelphia Phillies
4) Washington Nationals
5) Miami Marlins

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