While the A's offseason has been yet a speed bump compared to the tumultuous 2014 flurry of deals, the front office has certainly been active. What has the rest of the division done to keep pace?
- 2015 record: 88-74, won AL West by two games
- Key free agents: OF Drew Stubbs, OF Will Venable, SP Yovani Gallardo (qualifying offer), RP Ross Ohlendorf
- Key additions: RP Tom Wilhelmsen, OF Justin Ruggiano, RP Tony Barnette
- Key free agent retentions: SP Colby Lewis
- Key losses: RP Anthony Bass (trade to Seattle), OF Leonys Martin (to SEA), RP Spencer Patton (to CHC), 1B/DH Mike Napoli (signed with Cleveland)
After a somewhat surprising run to the AL West crown, the Rangers find themselves in need of some moves if they hope to follow up their 2015 campaign. Mike Napoli has already signed with the Cleveland Indians and while the first baseman only spent a short two month stint in Arlington, his presence was felt to the tune of a .908 OPS. Opening day starter Yovani Gallardo has yet to find a new home, but rumors indicate there's a good chance he'll land elsewhere next year leaving the Rangers to fill his 184 innings through other means.
Who's new on the Ranger's roster? In exchange for CF Leonys Martin, the Rangers received RP Tom Wilhemlsen from the Mariners. Wilhelmsen has a solid track record over his five year career and will fortify an already solid bullpen. The Rangers also received toolsy outfielder James Jones who re-signed to a minor league deal. Platoon outfielder Justin Ruggiano is the Rangers lone new addition through free agency and he will be relied upon to mash lefty pitchers.
What's left for the Rangers? Pitching is a major concern with a likely loss of Yovani Gallardo. Cole Hamels presence for a full season will help and the Rangers have some guys coming off of injury who may be able to step in, but as of now there are innings to be eaten.
- 2015 record: 86-76, won 2nd Wild Card
- Key free agents: P Scott Kazmir, RP Joe Thatcher
- Key additions: RP Ken Giles (from Phillies)
- Key free agent retentions: OF Colby Rasmus, RP Tony Sipp
- Key losses: IF Jed Lowrie (to OAK), SP Brett Oberholtzer (to Phillies), SP/RP Vince Velasquez (to Phillies), Chris Carter (non-tendered)
Predictably, the Astros have been relatively quiet in the 2015 offseason. With lots of young talent on the big league roster and plenty more waiting in the upper minors, the Astros are content to sit back and let their youth carry them. The 'stros biggest splash came in the acquisition of flamethrower Ken Giles, stabilizing an already solid bullpen. To acquire Giles, Houston gave up former top pick Mark Appel. Appel's professional career didn't get off to the start many expected, but he's still a major loss for the Astros farm system. Having the reigning Rookie of the Year and former league leader in hits helps mitigate that talent loss, and Houston is still loaded.
What's left for the Astros? Both Yovani Gallardo and Scott Kazmir have been linked to the club and the team seems intent on finding another starter. Unlike the Rangers, the Astros can conceivably get by without another addition and you can expect the opening day roster to be similar to the current squad.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
- 2015 record: 85-77, missed playoffs
- Key free agents: 3B David Freese (Qualifying Offer), LF Matt Joyce, LF David Murphy, SP Mat Latos, RF Shane Victorino, RP Wesley Wright,
- Key additions: IF Cliff Pennington, C Geovanny Soto, OF Craig Gentry, OF Daniel Nava, OF Rafael Ortega, IF Yunel Escobar, SS Andrelton Simmons
- Key free agent retentions: N/A
- Key losses: Erick Aybar (to ATL), OF Colin Cowgill (to CLE)
The Angels have had a lot of movement in new GM Billy Eppler's first offseason. Eppler's first major move was trading the organization's top prospect Sean Newcomb to the Atlanta Braves in addition to incumbent shortstop, Erick Aybar. In return, the Angels received defensive superstar Andrelton Simmons to fill Aybar's spot. Simmons is a great pickup and will unfortunately be an Angel for four cost controlled years. With David Freese likely departed as a free agent, the Angels traded for infielder/bad person Yunel Escobar. Escobar had a hot 2015 with the bat but leaves much to be desired defensively at third base. The Angels will lean heavily on Escobar if they want to make another push for the playoffs. The Angels also lost starting catcher Chris Ianneta to the Mariners and replaced him with Geovany Soto. Soto had a strong 2015 campaign with the White Sox, but between he and Carlos Perez, the Angel will lean on two part time players to catch a full season.
What's left for the Angels? Left field was an Oakland-esque disaster in 2015 and it still looks dicey. The Angels signed Craig Gentry and Daniel Nava, two formerly productive players coming off bad years. It's hard to imagine the Angels going with either starting on opening day, so look for an acquisition of an outfielder in some form. It's important to note that the Angels may be reluctant to add payroll as they approach the luxury tax threshold.
The Angels are in a bit of an awkward in between - the farm system seems barren and the big league roster is loaded with big contracts and fading stars. With the Astros only getting better and the rest of the division looking strong, the Angels could be on the outside looking in without many internal pieces to take that next step and without the payroll flexibility to make a major move.
- 2015 record: 76-86, missed playoffs
- Key free agents: RP Joe Beimel
- Key additions: C Steve Clevenger, 1B Adam Lind, CF Leonys Martin, RP Anthony Bass, RP Steve Cishek, OF Nori Aoki, C Chris Ianneta, SP Wade Miley, SP Nathan Karns
- Key free agent retentions: SP Hisashi Iwakuma, OF Franklin Gutierrez,
- Key losses: OF/IF/DH Mark Trumbo (to BAL), RP C.J. Riefenhauser, SS Brad Miller (to TBR), 1B Logan Morrison (to TBR), RP Danny Farquar (to TBR), CF James Jones, RP Tom Willhelmsen (to TX)
The Mariners biggest move of 2015 was the sacking of GM Jack Zduriencik who was replaced by Jerry Dipoto. Dipoto has wasted no time making big moves to the disappointing 2015 team, shipping off three key position players in his first offseason and being active via both free agency and trades. Dipoto's first big move was trading Brad Miller, Danny Farquar, and Logan Morrison in exchange for Nathan Karns and prospects. Miller's departure will give some clarity to a position previously in flux, and rookie Ketel Marte will likely be handed the full-time reigns to start 2016.
The Mariners shored up their inconsistent catching by signing Chris Ianneta and trading for Steve Clevenger. Slugger Adam Lind will take Mark Trumbo's old role of home run hitter/poor defensive player, but will likely provide much more value than Trumbo. New left fielder Nori Aoki will again give Mariner fans flashbacks to the Raul Ibanez days, but Aoki's bat can make him a net positive. The team has a solid lineup with Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano terrorizing opposing pitchers.
The rotation has enviable depth and will likely be a strength of this team. Felix will anchor the group, with Iwakuma (given a healthy arm), Taijuan Walker, Wade Miley, and Nathan Karns following suit. There's plenty of additional depth at AAA.
Where do the Mariners go from here? The team could easily stand pat and have a potential playoff contender on Opening Day. With the division teeming with talent, the Mariners are far from a sure thing so another move isn't out of the realm of possibility. Another outfielder could help, but as is, this is a solid and competitive looking group.
- 2015 record: 68-94, missed playoffs
- Key free agents: P/Loss Coordinator Edward Mujica, SP/RP/Dreamboat Barry Zito, 1B/RP Ike Davis
- Key additions: 1B Yonder Alonso, RP Marc Rzepczynski, RP John Axford, RP Ryan Madson, RP Liam Hendriks, 1B/OF Andrew Lambo, SP Rich Hill, SP Henderson Alvarez, IF Jed Lowrie
- Key free agent retentions: N/A
- Key losses: RP Evan Scribner (to SEA), IF Brett Lawrie (to CHW), SP Jesse Chavez (to TOR), RP Fernando Abad (signed w/ MIN), OF Craig Gentry (signed w/ LAA), SP AJ Griffin, RP Drew Pomeranz (to SD), RP Pat Venditte (claimed by TOR)
You all know the story, but let's recap just cause.
Fresh off the franchise's worst season in 18 years, the A's have been active in both the trade and free agent markets aiming mostly at fixing relief woes. Lefty reliever Drew Pomeranz was traded alongside Jose Torres for Yonder Alonso and Marc Rzepczynski. Alonso will likely start as the A's first baseman, taking a similar role to Ike Davis (hopefully with better results). Jed Lowrie's acquisition allowed the A's to move Brett Lawrie for prospects, with Danny Valencia emerging as a full time 3B. Left field remains a bit of a mystery, but odds are Mark Canha will take the majority of the reps there. Canha will hopefully add stability to the A's 2015 LF woes.
The rotation and bullpen have been overhauled to varying degrees. Rich Hill has a guaranteed spot, likely following Sonny Gray as the A's number 2. Jesse Hahn's arm issues haven't been openly discussed by the A's, but the addition of fellow injured pitcher Henderon Alvarez leads us to speculate as to what the verdict on Hahn might be. Following Hahn, the A's will have some combination of Kendall Graveman, Sean Nolin, Felix Doubront, Chris Bassitt, Aaron Brooks, and more to round out the rotation.
In the pen, Ryan Madson and Liam Hendriks hope to give the A's a fearsome threesome in addition to Sean Doolittle to hold leads. John Axford is a lock for the pen as well and will join some combination of Scrabble, Ryan Dull, RJ Alvarez, Fernando Rodriguez, and whoever doesn't make the rotation.
What's left for the A's? The front office seems set on adding yet another starter and are still in talks with Scott Kazmir. The outfield is still unsettled and it wouldn't be a surprise to see the A's try and add another bonafide player. There are also some roster moves to be made as the pending signing of Alvarez means someone will have to be removed from the 40 man to accommodate. The A's will also have to make personnel decisions on their fringe outfielders as the team cannot carry all of Lambo, Coco Crisp, Jake Smolinski, and Sam Fuld.
The A's at some point will have to make a decision on Coco Crisp and Billy Butler. It seems as though both will be given a chance to prove themselves at least through Spring Training, but it wouldn't be shocking to see a decision made prior.
Finally, the A's have repeatedly stated their intentions to extend both Josh Reddick and Sonny Gray. Thus far, there hasn't been any public talk of movement on either front but the front office seems committed.