American League West
Key Additions: RHP Ken Giles
Finding their way into the playoffs for the first time in quite a long time, the Houston Astros are feeling good, even after their second round playoff exit. More so than perhaps any other team in baseball, the Astros lost quite a bit of talent from their everyday roster from last year. By my count, the Astros have lost a total of eight players who were on the 25-man roster last year and made significant contributions to the team in the regular season or postseason. That is not even including the large amount of prospects the Astros gave up to make their one trade of this offseason so far.
As it currently stands, the only addition is closer Ken Giles, who was that acquisition in the trade mentioned. Giles represents a strong bullpen option, and his acquisition was a smart move for a young team looking to contend for years to come. Even with the large loss of talent, the Astros still have had a good offseason, and still look to be on top of the AL West, at least for now.
Key Departures: OF/1B Mark Trumbo, IF Brad Miller, 1B Logan Morrison, LHP Tom Wilhelmsen, RHP Carson Smith
While the Houston Astros were the quietest AL West team in terms of acquisition, the Mariners were easily the busiest. Under new general manager Jerry DiPoto, the Mariners have completely remade their roster from last year. The team has several new starters, an improved bullpen, a completely new catching corps, and several new players elsewhere around the diamond. It’s unclear whether the Mariners are going to be better or worse than last year, with so many new additions, but the team should get credit for the attempt. The Mariners have a new philosophy under DiPoto and have done a phenomenal job of executing it up to this point.
Key Departures: IF Brett Lawrie, LHP Drew Pomeraz, RHP Jesse Chavez
While almost every other AL West team made additions to improve their roster, the Athletics were no different. Also one for making trades, Billy Beane traded away infielder Brett Lawrie, and pitchers Jesse Chavez and Drew Pomeranz, acquiring a new first baseman in Yonder Alonso, as well as bullpen help in Marc Rzepczynski and Liam Hendriks. The Athletics also added both Ryan Madson and John Axford, which further solidifies a bullpen that was one of the worst in the league in 2016. The A’s also traded for Jed Lowrie and signed Rich Hill, and recently signed Henderson Alvarez, rounding out a busy offseason to this point.
While the A’s don’t look a lot better on paper, they always seem to find a way to stay in the playoff hunt, and 2016 should be no exception.
Los Angeles Angels
After a late season collapse cost them a playoff spot, going into this offseason the Angels seemed serious about competing again in 2016. The holes were clear, at third base and in the outfield, and the Angels have so far met those needs, with various levels of success.
While the trade of Andrelton Simmons came out of nowhere, and cost the Angels a good amount of their remaining prospect depth, he is a clear upgrade over what they had last year, and makes the team better. Yunel Escobar does the same at third, making the Angels better in the infield than they were last season. With that being said, to this point the Angels have ignored their outfield needs and their need at second base. While Daniel Nava is an okay signing, he should not be the everyday solution for the Angels in the outfield next season.
Rather than focus on upgrading positions that desperately needed upgrades, the Angels have instead upgraded positions that didn’t really need it, while putting bandaids on the real areas of concern. Not a sound short term strategy for a team with playoff aspirations.
Key Additions: OF Justin Ruggiano, LHP Tom Wilhelmsen
Key Departures: OF Leonys Martin, 1B Mike Napoli, RHP Yovani Gallardo
Finally, the Texas Rangers have been the most inactive of all the AL West teams. Following an AL West division title that really came out of nowhere, the Rangers have seemed content to stand pat this offseason. While all four teams in the division have made strides to get better, perhaps with some strange definitions of “better,” the Rangers seem to think they are good enough.
With the return of Yu Darvish, and the promotion of several new prospects such as Joey Gallo, that very well could be the case. Either way, the Rangers have some areas of concern, such as their bullpen, that they have only made minor attempts to fix. The Rangers may very well still be AL West favorites, but that’s just by default at this point.