2013 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few days we’ve been previewing the 2013 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East.

The Washington Nationals; 2012 season ended with a fall-from-ahead playoff loss, but let’s not forget that they won more games than anyone last year and seem loaded for bear once again. Are they the best team in baseball right now?

The Braves got the Upton brothers but they lost Chipper Jones and Martin Prado. Does that translate to the playoffs once again?

The squad the Phillies assembled a couple of years ago seemed like it’d be poised to compete for a good long while. But last year injury and age caught up with them. Was that a bump in the road or the beginning of the end of the Halladay-Lee-Hamels-Howard-Utley-Rollins core?

The Mets are coming out of years of financial misery. How long until their on-the-field fortunes turn as well?

The Marlins introduced a whole new look in 2012 then, in gutting payroll and trading away half the roster, they reverted to old form rather abruptly. What, if anything, is worth watching in Miami?

Below are our team-by-team previews for the NL East as well as our HBT Extra feature on the division. Enjoy.

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Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Free-agent ace Jacob deGrom and the Texas Rangers agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner leaves the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened by injuries.

After making his first start last season in early August, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then opted out of his contract to become a free agent.

Texas announced the signing Friday night after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

“We are thrilled that Jacob deGrom has decided to become a Texas Ranger,” executive vice president and general manager Chris Young said in a statement. “Over a number of seasons, Jacob has been a standout major league pitcher, and he gives us a dominant performer at the top of our rotation. One of our primary goals this offseason is to strengthen our starting pitching, and we are adding one of the best.”

Texas went 68-94 last season and then hired Bruce Bochy as its new manager. The Rangers’ six straight losing seasons are their worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

The Rangers were big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).