Spring Training is almost upon us! The AL West figures to be an exciting division 2017 that includes the Astros, Angels, A’s, Mariners, and Rangers. The AL West figures to be ultra competitive in 2017 as any of the 5 teams feel like they have a chance to compete. No one is tanking in this division. After a long offseason, it’s time to hand out some offseason grades. Who put themselves in a position to improve in 2017?
Houston Astros: Grade B+
Key Additions: Norichika Aoki, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Charlie Morton, Josh Reddick
Key Departures: Jason Castro, Doug Fister, Pat Neshek, Colby Rasmus, Luis Valbuena
Houston loaded up on a bunch of nice veterans this offseason to balance out their young core. George Springer, Jose Altuve, and Carlos Correa are young superstars that are going to benefit from guys like Carlos Beltran in the clubhouse. The Astros could still use some help in the rotation but have to be considered the team to beat in this division after adding needed leadership this offseason.
Los Angeles Angels: Grade B
Key Additions: Jesse Chavez, Danny Espinosa, Martin Maldonado, Cameron Maybin, Ben Revere, Luis Valbuena, Kirby Yates
Key Departures: Jett Bandy, Jhoulys Chacin, Brett Oberholtzer, Geovany Soto, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson
The Angels are stuck with some bad contracts such as Albert Pujols’ but they Angels tinkered enough with the roster that they may be able to sneak a wildcard birth in. Maybin and Revere give the Angels a super fast outfield. That could be a real asset especially next to the best player in baseball Mike Trout. Espinosa and Valbuena are big additions to the infield for an Angels team that couldn’t score last year. LA still needs help in the pitching department but they really improved this offseason, especially defensively.
Oakland A’s: Grade C
Key Additions: Alejandro De Aza, Santiago Casilla, Rajai Davis, Matt Joyce, Trevor Plouffe
Key Departures: Arismendy Alcantara, Brett Eibner, Danny Valencia
You have to admire Billy Beane’s attempt to go for it every year unwilling to completely rebuild. The small market A’s added some interesting veterans that could contribute. If all goes well maybe the A’s can get 3rd in this division. If not, expect the A’s to trade guys like Sonny Gray during the deadline.
Seattle Mariners: Grade B
Key Additions: Jarrod Dyson, Casey Fein, Yovani Gallardo, Tuffy Gosewisch, Mitch Haniger, Chris Heston, Carlos Ruiz, Marc Rzepczynski, Jean Segura, Shae Simmons, Drew Smyly, Danny Valencia
Key Departures: Norichika Aoki, Franklin Gutierrez, Chris Iannetta, Nathan Karns, Dae Ho Lee, Adam Lind, Ketel Marte, Vidal Nuno, Seth Smith, Drew Storen, Taijuan Walker, Tom Wilhelmsen, Luiz Gohara
The Mariners were busy this offseason. 12 total trades were by far the most of any team. I tend to like the moves that they made for the most part. Dyson is a speedy outfielder that helps them on the basis as the Mariners were horrendous in that category a year ago. Segura was the best hitting shortstop in baseball last year (.319 average). After winning 86 games in 2016, you have to think a few minor upgrades here and there puts Seattle in the playoffs.
Texas Rangers: Grade B-
Key Additions: Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, Mike Napoli, James Loney
Key Departures: Carlos Beltran, Ian Desmond, Lucas Harrell, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Mitch Moreland, Shawn Tolleson
The Rangers won the division in 2016 but are probably on level footing heading into this year. They lost a ton of offense with losing Beltran, Desmond, and Moreland but you hope young guys like Jurickson Profar and Joey Gallo take the next step. Texas’ pitching should be better, however, bringing in Cashner and Ross.