The Bottom of the National League Barrel

So-called “tanking” has become a standard practice in today’s game. If you aren’t in a position to contend, flip anyone of value, stock the farm, load up on high draft picks, and prepare to be good in about three years. After the successes experienced by the Cubs, Astros, and others, teams are now looking to rebuild more than reload.

Coming into the 2016 season, four NL-teams appeared to be making a conscious effort to tank: the Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, and Philadelphia Phillies.

Since then, the Braves, Reds, and Brewers have been predictably awful. The Phillies have seen unexpected success. While they still aren’t considered a legitimate threat to make the postseason, they are certainly ahead of schedule when it comes to rebuilding.

Each of the three NL bottom-dwellers is holding onto one franchise cornerstone (Freeman, Votto, and Braun) and surrounding him with a bunch of young, raw players and veteran filler. Each has also been active in the trade market.

Atlanta has blown up the team, trading away Jason Heyward, Craig Kimbrel, both Uptons, Shelby Miller, Evan Gattis, and other veterans.

Cincinnati jettisoned Johnny Cueto, Todd Frazier, and Aroldis Chapman.

Milwaukee has unloaded Yovani Gallardo, Carlos Gomez, Francisco Rodriguez, and Jean Segura and is rumored to be shopping Braun and Jonathan Lucroy.

All three clubs have drastically improved their farm systems through these trades but have significant holes at the Major League level.

Given the current situations of these three teams, which has the fastest path to becoming relevant again? Let us know what you think.

Scott Ferris is a diehard Braves fan trying to smile through the pain this season. He lives in Philadelphia and once followed Mike Piazza around a Whole Foods. You can find his writing here on MLB.Vote, where he promises to say at least one good thing about the Mets.

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