While the A’s have been relatively quiet this offseason, the same cannot be said for the rest of the American League West. The Astros, Angels, and Rangers have all signed key free agents already, and the Mariners’ fire sale has been one of the biggest stories in baseball.
Here’s a closer look at what each AL West rival has done so far and what it means for the A’s:
Key additions: Matt Harvey (SP, Justin Bour (1B)
Key losses: Garrett Richards (SP), Jose Alvarez (RP)
The Angels’ biggest move came Tuesday when they signed Matt Harvey for way too much money — $11 million to be exact, with incentives that could bring the deal to $14 million. After a spectacular first three seasons with the Mets, Harvey has fallen apart the last three years in part due to injuries, but mainly just poor performance.
Harvey hasn’t posted an ERA under 4.80 since 2015. He pitched a little better last season after getting traded to the Reds, going 7-7 with a 4.50 ERA in 24 starts with Cincinnati. But that’s still a far cry from the pitcher we saw between 2012 and 2015.
The Angels also signed free agent first baseman Justin Bour to a one-year, $2.5 million contract. They still need to add a catcher as well as more starting pitching, and perhaps some relievers too. At this point, they don’t appear to be a serious threat to the A’s in the AL West.
Key additions: Michael Brantley (OF), Robinson Chirinos (C), Aledmys Diaz (SS)
Key losses: Charlie Morton (SP), Brian McCann (C)
Michael Brantley and Robinson Chirinos are solid additions for the two-time defending AL West champions, and they likely aren’t done. Houston is reportedly pursuing former Mariners slugger Nelson Cruz, who belted 37 home runs last season.
However, the Astros’ starting rotation took a hit with the departure of pitcher Charlie Morton, and Dallas Keuchel could also sign elsewhere. To make matters worse for Houston, starter Lance McCullers Jr. will miss the entire 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
The Astros do still have Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole to form a strong 1-2 punch, not to mention one of the best bullpens in all of baseball. They will return plenty of young talent in their lineup and should once again be a legitimate World Series contender. Until dethroned, the Astros have to be considered the favorite in the AL West.
Key additions: Edwin Encarnación (DH), Mallex Smith (OF), Jay Bruce (OF)
Key losses: Edwin Diaz (RP), James Paxton (SP), Robinson Cano (2B), Jean Segura (SS), Juan Nicasio (RP), Alex Colome (RP), Mike Zunino (C)
The Mariners’ fire sale is truly one to behold. Seattle has already traded away three former All-Stars in Edwin Diaz, Robinson Cano, and Jean Segura, while shipping their best starter James Paxton to the Yankees. The aforementioned Nelson Cruz will also be playing somewhere else next season.
Despite winning 89 games last year, Seattle decided to go full rebuild. That’s good news for the A’s and the rest of the division, at least in the short-term, as the Mariners figure to be one of the worst teams in baseball next season.
Oakland will be especially happy to see Cano leave the American League. The eight-time All-Star has destroyed A’s pitching over the years, slashing .292/.344/.470 with 25 home runs and 33 doubles in 160 games. Same goes for Segura, who has slashed .351/.380/.485 in 32 career games against Oakland.
Key additions: Lance Lynn (SP), Jesse Chavez (RP), Jeff Mathis (C)
Key losses: Adrián Beltré (3B), Matt Moore (SP), Robinson Chirinos (C), Alex Claudio (RP)
At least the Rangers have tried to address their woeful pitching with the additions of Lance Lynn and Jesse Chavez. They still have a lot more work to do.
Texas’ most notable departure is future Hall of Famer Adrián Beltré, who announced his retirement after 21 MLB seasons. It’s safe to say the A’s won’t be upset to see him go — in 223 career games against Oakland, Beltré slashed .287/.332/.485 with 41 homers, 50 doubles, and 145 RBI.
The Rangers lost 95 games last season to finish dead last in the AL West. They might move out of the cellar next year, thanks to Seattle’s rebuild, but they almost certainly won’t be anywhere near the top of the division.