Grading Each Team’s Offseason (So Far): American League

Source: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images North America

Source: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images North America

American League West

Houston Astros

Key Additions: RHP Ken Giles

Key Departures: C Hank Conger, 1B Chris Carter, IF Jed Lowrie, IF Jonathan Villar, RHP Chad Qualls, LHP Joe Thatcher, LHP Oliver Perez, LHP Scott Kazmir

Grade: B+

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.

Seattle Mariners

Key Additions: RHP Joaquin Benoit, LHP Wade Miley, RHP Nate Karns, RHP Steve Cishek, 1B Adam Lind, OF Nori Aoki, C Steve Clevenger, C Chris Iannetta, OF Leonys Martin

Key Departures: OF/1B Mark Trumbo, IF Brad Miller, 1B Logan Morrison, LHP Tom Wilhelmsen, RHP Carson Smith

Grade: B

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.

Oakland Athletics

Key Additions: RHP Ryan Madson, RHP John Axford, 1B Yonder Alonso, LHP Marc Rzepczynski, RHP Liam Hendriks, IF Jed Lowrie, LHP Rich Hill, RHP Henderson Alvarez

Key Departures: IF Brett Lawrie, LHP Drew Pomeraz, RHP Jesse Chavez

Grade: C+

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

Key Additions: OF Daniel Nava, IF Yunel Escobar, IF Andrelton Simmons, C Geovany Soto, IF Cliff Pennington

Key Departures: OF Colin Cowgill, IF David Freese, IF Erick Aybar, OF David DeJesus, OF David Murphy, OF Shane Victorino, OF Matt Joyce

Grade: C-

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.

Texas Rangers

Key Additions: OF Justin Ruggiano, LHP Tom Wilhelmsen

Key Departures: OF Leonys Martin, 1B Mike Napoli, RHP Yovani Gallardo

Grade: D

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.

7 Responses

  1. concernedcitizen20099

    AL Central is not weak.

    It has produced the WS Champion, the AL Champion many years over the past decade.
    AL Central has may rising teams in the Twins, White Sox, Indians
    with perennial contenders in the Tigers and Royals.
    Writer does not do his homework.

    And, the Writer ranks the Astros offseason as a B+
    after they lose 8 key players and gain only a closer?

    Weak aticle and analysis…

    Reply
    • danumd87

      The AL central is definitely mediocre at present. The Royals are perennial contenders while the tigers have the look of a good team which still is too old and has far too many holes to truly be competitive. The Twins are ok and on the rise but not ready to compete for anything yet. Meanwhile the Indians and white sox are both quite bad. When compared to the extremely strong AL East and a far more competitive AL West, calling the league’s worst division ‘mediocre’ is quite fair. Fortunately there is a good deal of balance in the game at present so being the worst division is no longer akin to those years of the 79 win playoff Pads, etc.

      The author wasn’twrong here

      Reply
      • danumd87

        I’m sorry but which division is the central better than?

      • J J

        Joke! The Indians have the best young rotation in the American League. If Napoli can hit lefties like he has shown and Brantley gets healthy by May they are among the elite! Very strong up the middle and as good as there is 1-3 starters in the AL.

      • danumd87

        If we only talk about teams strengths,we can make anybody look great. Reality check time. The Indians have holes everywhere. Yes, the strong core of young starters is a great backbone and makes their problems easier to solve in the near future. But they’re still lacking in difference making talent at most positions. They’re upside is at best among the group chasing the second wild card. They are not remotely close to elite.

      • JJ

        Quality starting rotation, strong up the middle, established closer and proven manager that know how to handle the pen will put any team into divisional contention. No one division is dominant any longer in either league and Winter moves guarantee nothing.

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