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Astros moves for relievers highlight busy AL West action at Winter Meetings

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The Astros, Angels, Mariners, and Rangers are full of activity at the 2014 MLB Winter Meetings.

Luke Gregerson signed a three-year deal with the Houston Astros.
Luke Gregerson signed a three-year deal with the Houston Astros.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The AL West opponents for the Oakland Athletics remain busy as the third full day of the Winter Meetings continues. A look around the division:

Astros sign Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek

The Houston Astros signed relievers and former Athletics Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek on Wednesday, bolstering a bullpen that ranked last in ERA in 2014. Gregerson agreed to a three-year, $18.5 million deal according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Neshek agreed to a two-year $12.5 million deal with an option for a third year, that deal also first reported by Nightengale.

Against the A's, the Astros bullpen most notably gave up a number of late leads or tie games, starting with this A's ninth-inning comeback from April 19:

Then this seven-run explosion in Houston on April 25:

Coming just a run short of a four-run comeback on April 26 (against Jerome Williams, of all pitchers):

Scoring six in the ninth off Chad Qualls, Tony Sipp, and Jose Veras on July 29:

Another crooked number in the ninth on August 25 off Tony Sipp, who walked all four batters he faced, and Jose Veras, who allowed Sipp's runners to score and then one more:

Chad Qualls blows another save on August 27:

Qualls blew his last save against the A's on September 6, after which interim manager Tom Lawless refused to use Qualls against Oakland. He blew six saves all year, and four were against the A's:

2015 will be Neshek's first contract year exceeding $1,000,000, according to Baseball Reference. Gregerson also receives a small bump in average annual salary. Congratulations to them, and we wish them all the best, especially against Oakland's AL West opponents.

Other Astros moves and rumors

In November, the Astros and Angels made a trade to send catcher Hank Conger to Houston and catcher Carlos Perez and starting pitcher Nick Tropeano to Anaheim. The Astros had been in pursuit of other relievers, including David Robertson and Andrew Miller, says Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

The Astros are "making LJ Hoes available in trades as they search for relief help," says MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo.

As for infield help, the Astros were rumored on Tuesday to have offered Chase Headley five years and $65 million to play for them, according to Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. On Monday, Jed Lowrie was said to be an Astros target as well by Houston Astros mlb.com beat reporter Brian McTaggart.

Angels targeting middle infield depth

Behind Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick, the Angels are looking for middle infield depth, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. The middle infield depth chart looks like this right now:

Angels middle infield

Potential trade targets for the Angels include Eugenio Suarez, Pete Kozma, and Marwin Gonzalez, and they could deal relievers to get them, Fletcher says. On Tuesday, the Angels said they will sign 20-year-old Cuban infielder Roberto Baldoquin to an $8 million bonus, subjecting themselves to the international bonus pool penalties and rendering them ineligible to make large international signings in the next two signing periods, according to Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors.

Other Angels moves

The Angels made a few moves in November. To start off they acquired reliever Cesar Ramos from the Tampa Bay Rays for starting pitcher Mark Sappington, acquired catcher Carlos Perez and starting pitcher Nick Tropeano from the Houston Astros for catcher Hank Conger, and signed former A's relief farmhand Jeremy McBryde to a major league minimum deal. Then they acquired outfielder Dan Robertson from the Texas Rangers for cash considerations or a player to be named later. During this week's winter meetings, the Angels picked up Dodgers catcher Drew Butera for cash or a player to be named.

Mariners interested in White Sox Dayan Viciedo, looking for outfield help

After trading Michael Saunders to the Toronto Blue Jays for J.A. Happ and losing Chris Denorfia, Franklin Gutierrez, and Endy Chavez to free agency, the Mariners need outfield help. After signing Nelson Cruz to a four-year deal at the start of this month, they are presently inquiring on Dayan Viciedo, says Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune.

The Mariners also appear to have been asking the Dodgers about Matt Kemp, but are balking at including Taijuan Walker or James Paxton, says Dutton. The Mariners have withdrawn their interest in Kemp as a result, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports says.

The interest in Viciedo, Bob Dutton says, is a result of stalled negotiations with free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera.

Other Mariners moves

After the World Series, the Mariners waived Justin Smoak off their roster, and he was claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays. They picked up starting pitcher Sam Gaviglio from the ST. Louis cardinals fro Ty Kelly, and signed third baseman Kyle Seager to a seven-year, $100 million extension.

Rangers looking for starting pitchers and outfielders

With Prince Fielder, Rougned Odor, Adrian Beltre, and Elvis Andrus presently slated to run the infield, the Texas Rangers hope to reload a starting pitching rotation that was ravaged by injury last year (15 players made starts for Texas in 2014). Additionally, the Rangers declined outfielder Alex Rios' $13.5 million option.

With the Rangers also out of the Matt Kemp discussions, their outfield focus turns to the Braves, who appear to be trying to deal Evan Gattis and Justin Upton, according to T.R. Sullivan of mlb.com. The Rangers' interest in Upton, however, appears to merely be an interest to further trade him for starting pitching.

As for specific starting pitchers, the Mets and Rangers were talking about Dillon Gee on Tuesday night, according to The Record's Matt Ehalt. Tuesday afternoon Texas was talking with the Arizona Diamondbacks about Wade Miley and Travor Cahill, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Texas was also talking to the Washington Nationals about Jordan Zimmermann, but the Nationals wanted to talk about Doug Fisteraccording to T.R. Sullivan.

The Rangers are extending offers to free agent pitchers, though Justin Masterson is not one of them, according to Jeff Wilson of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram.

Other Rangers moves

The Rangers had to do a lot of roster maneuvering after ending the year with numerous players on the 60-day disabled list. In October, no less than 11 players had to face outright waivers to the minor leagues ahead of the deadline to activate players on the DL five days after the World Series. Kevin Kouzmanoff and J.P. Arencibia elected free agency rather than accept outright assignment.

In November, the Rangers released reliever Aaron Poreda, starting pitcher Miles Mikolas, and outfielder-first baseman Jim Adduci. They traded outfielder Dan Robertson to the Angels for a player to be named later or cash consideratoins. At the non-tender deadline, Texas declined to offer contracts to reliever Alexi Ogando, reliever Micahel Kirkman, and infielder Adam Rosales.

Last Monday, the Rangers claimed reliever Scott Barnes off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles.