PORT ST. LUCIE Miguel Andujar Jersey , Fla. (AP) For years, the NL East has been soft as a bunt single.Not anymore.Even before Bryce Harper decided to stay inside the division, four of the five teams spent this offseason swinging for the fences. In addition to defending champion Atlanta, the New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals all have enough firepower to potentially contend for the playoffs.This is probably going to be the stiffest competition in a division race in my career, Nationals ace Max Scherzer said at spring training.Its certainly a noticeable transformation.In the past eight seasons, the NL East has won a grand total of two playoff series and produced one pennant winner with the 2015 Mets responsible for the entirety of that October success.Two years ago, Washington finished a whopping 20 games in front, and no other team in the division was better than 77-85.Last season, Atlanta rolled to a surprise title at 90-72, the fewest wins of any postseason participant. No other NL East squad did better than two games above .500.Miami has endured nine straight losing seasons. Philadelphia hasnt been a winner since 2011. New Yorks last 10 years, two winning records.But now, an influx of talent and a cavalcade of new faces have the division shaping up as a force for years to come.By the looks of it, the NL least is suddenly a beast.I dont think theres another division harder right now. Every team is pretty much loaded, Phillies outfielder Nick Williams said.This winter alone:Atlanta signed third baseman Josh Donaldson, the 2015 AL MVP.New York acquired five recent All-Stars in Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz Tim Tebow Jersey , Jeurys Familia, Jed Lowrie and Wilson Ramos.Washington spent $140 million to plug Patrick Corbin into an imposing rotation that already featured Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.And the Phillies plucked away two big stars from division rivals, trading with Miami for catcher J.T. Realmuto and luring Harper from the Nationals with a record $330 million contract.Its almost like the AL East great pitching, great lineups 1 through 9. But thats what you live for. You want to face the best, Braves All-Star pitcher Mike Foltynewicz said.People took us a little lightly last year and now were the ones kind of getting chased. But no panic button or anything. We made great moves before everyone started going haywire, he added. Its kind of cool to see that we might have stirred it up for these guys.Even the less-heralded moves showed all four organizations were serious about winning right away.Atlanta brought back veteran catcher Brian McCann and re-signed All-Star outfielder Nick Markakis.The busy Mets added reliever Justin Wilson and outfielder Keon Broxton, among others, significantly improving their bullpen, bench and overall depth under new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen.Washington boosted its relief corps with Kyle Barraclough and Trevor Rosenthal, secured a pair of first-string catchers in Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki, and addressed issues on the right side of the infield with Brian Dozier and Matt Adams. Anibal Sanchez was signed away from Atlanta for the back of the rotation.Philadelphia paid $50 million for 2013 NL MVP Andrew McCutchen, another $23 million for late-inning reliever David Robertson, and traded for two-time All-Star shortstop Jean Segura.It seemed like every other week the Mets, the Phillies, the Nationals were signing someone or trading for someone, Braves slugger Freddie Freeman said.With only the young Marlins, in the early stages of their massive rebuild Jay Bruce Jersey , expected to struggle (again) this season, the NL East appears to pack uncommon depth.As more and more clubs strip down and reboot with unproven prospects, the division is the only one in the majors with four teams forecast to have winning records in the PECOTA projections on Baseball Prospectus. Philadelphia and Washington are pegged for 89 wins, with the Mets at 87 and Braves 84. The prediction for Miami is 67.Its definitely beefed up, Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler said. Everybodys gotten better.I think theres a lot of teams in our division ready to win. I hate saying that because everybody should be ready to win. But you know, once one team adds somebody, if youre the other teams youve sort of got to top that, he explained. When they add a bullpen guy youve got to add a bullpen guy to get better, stay ahead.Its not as if the NL East was starved for talent before.Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom won the NL Cy Young Award last season, beating out three-time Cy Young winner Scherzer and Phillies ace Aaron Nola.Atlanta outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. and Washington counterpart Juan Soto ran 1-2 in Rookie of the Year voting.And every team has touted minor leaguers now in play, including Pete Alonso (Mets), Victor Robles (Nationals) and Mike Soroka (Braves).It looks like a really tough division. Whoever comes out of that is going to be battle-tested, Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo said. I think you just go ahead and look at the starting pitching around this division and you see right away that every single at-bat is going to be a battle. It definitely is something thats empowering, no doubt, and gives you a lot of confidence that people look at your division and think very highly of it. But again, it just means that every game is going to be a dogfight.One thing the NL East wasnt lacking all these years was heated rivalries, which should only grow more intense.And if the Braves http://www.metsfanproshop.com/authentic-tim-tebow-jersey , Mets, Nationals and Phillies knock each other around all season, maybe the division will be decided by which team beats up on the Marlins the most.Obviously with Bryce going to the Phillies, I think a lot of people lean toward them as being kind of the favorite in our division, but to me the Nationals are really good, Miami manager Don Mattingly said. This division got really good quick, which is good. I think its good for us, actually. Theres gonna be some black and blue. PITTSBURGH (AP) Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco could be out until next June after having surgery on his left shoulder.The Pirates made the announcement on Friday, which was Polancos 27th birthday.Polanco leads the Pirates with a career-high 23 home runs, 81 RBIs and 61 extra-base hits. He batted .254 this season.Polanco dislocated his throwing shoulder on an awkward slide into second base on a double last Friday against Miami. He had surgery Wednesday to repair the labrum and stabilize his shoulder, and the Pirates said it is projected to take seven to nine months for a return to action.Hell have the support of his family, hell have the support of the organization, hell have the support of a lot of people, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said before the game in Milwaukee.Hes a man thats always been self-motivated, focused. Now is the healing, the rehab, and the strengthening and then the getting ready to play David Wright Jersey , whenever that is. Well look forward to that, he said.With Polanco out of the lineup, four players will be vying for time in right field, Hurdle said.Adam Frazier, Jordan Luplow, Pablo Reyes and rookie Kevin Kramer, who was called up Sept. 4, likely will share right field duties for the remainder of the season, Hurdle said.Its going to be a daily decision on who we want to play second base and do we want to move Kramer to third base, Hurdle said. We did that the other day.Luplow got the start in right on Friday night against the Brewers.The Pirates also said pitcher Chad Kuhl, on the disabled list since June with forearm and elbow tightness, is scheduled to re-examined after being unable to throw his scheduled side session earlier this week.