Wednesday, April 5, 2017

2017 MLB Preview: AL West

[This is part 3 of our preview series. Part 1 was the AL East and Part 2 was the AL Central]


1. Houston Astros

Key Acquisitions: OF Josh ReddickDH Carlos BeltranC Brian McCann

Key Losses: RP Pat NeshekC Jason Castro3B Luis Valbuena

Outlook: The Astros decided to let catcher Jason Castro leave via free agency, and replaced him with former all-star Brian McCann in a trade with the New York Yankees. While McCann isn't quite the player he once was, he's still likely to be a significant upgrade over Castro. Carlos Beltran and Josh Reddick give the offense even more firepower, and will more than make up for the lost home runs of Luis Valbuena. With several up and coming young stars and solid veterans filling out the roster, the Astros should be contending for the World Series this October.

Key Acquisitions: 1B/DH Mike Napoli

Key Losses: DH Carlos Beltran1B Mitch MorelandOF Ian Desmond

Outlook: Last off-season, the Texas Rangers were patient and eventually managed to land SS/OF Ian Desmond on a steal of a one-year deal, and he bounced back in a big way. He performed so well he priced himself out of the Rangers plans, but once again this off-season the team demonstrated patience and again it paid off. Despite losing Carlos Beltran to the divisional rival Houston Astros, the Rangers were able to sign Mike Napoli to a one-year deal to replace Beltran. Both players production should be similar, and Napoli got about half of what Beltran did. The Rangers should contend for the AL West crown all season.

3. Seattle Mariners

Key Acquisitions: SS Jean SeguraC Carlos RuizIF/OF Danny ValenciaSP Drew SmylySP Yovani Gallardo

Key Losses: SP Taijuan WalkerSS Ketel MarteOF Seth Smith

Outlook: The Mariners were quite busy on the trade market, bringing in several platoon players to help fill out their roster. Acquiring Jean Segura immediately after his breakout season may prove to be a mistake, but if he can perform like he did last season the trade is a good one. Even if he takes a step back, he's still a better player than Ketel Marte. Ruiz, Valencia, Smyly and Gallardo, along with Jarrod Dyson, help bring veteran stability and a lot of capable depth. This team lacks the kind of star power they would need to truly contend, but a solid off-season has put them within striking distance of a playoff birth.

4. Los Angeles Angels

Key Acquisitions: 3B Luis ValbuenaOF Cameron Maybin2B/SS Danny Espinosa

Key Losses: SP Jered Weaver

Outlook: Long-time Angel Jered Weaver was no longer a productive player, but he'd been a fixture in the Angels rotation for years. Losing a fan favorite and franchise icon like Weaver is never easy, even if they're clearly not that kind of player anymore. Years of signing aging veterans in free agency have left the Angels unable to compete despite having the game's best player in Mike Trout. Barring some older veterans turning back the clock, the Angels are unlikely to contend this season, wasting another year of Trout's prime. What a shame.

5. Oakland Athletics

Key Acquisitions: OF Rajai DavisOF Matt JoyceRP Santiago Casilla3B Trevor Plouffe

Key Losses: IF/OF Danny Valencia

Outlook: The A's were among the league's worst teams last season, and despite some hope in the not-so-distant future, the team is unlikely to contend at all this season. The team made several low-risk, low-cost signings as they tend to do. Former Twin Trevor Plouffe has proven to be a productive player when healthy, and could provide a lot of value for the $2.5 million he's making. Billy Beane and company are likely just hoping a few of the veterans can have good first half seasons so they can trade them for more youth. 


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