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AL West offseason roundup: Every move by all 5 teams entering 2018

Angels and Astros upgrade; Rangers and Mariners go dumpster diving; A’s find their usual bargains.

The Angels finally added a pitcher.
Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images

The 2018 MLB season is finally upon us! Here at Athletics Nation we follow the A’s offseason moves closely, but they’re not the only team making trades and signing free agents. There are four other clubs in the AL West division, so let’s take a look at what they did.

In the transaction tables, I’ve done my best to include every player who appeared in MLB last year. That turned out to be a mistake, because holy toledo there are a lot of fringe dudes who got into just a couple games. Nevertheless, here’s the full landscape. Free agent contracts are rounded up to the nearest million. In the “Goodbye” columns, free agents who don’t have a team listed next to them remain unsigned. Players in italics are noteworthy minor league prospects, or minor league free agent signings. (Note: This is an update from a previous post in December.)

Houston Astros

2017 record: 101-61

Quick season review: They won the World Series. They had the best lineup in baseball anchored by the league’s MVP (Altuve), a strong rotation with a pair of aces (Verlander, Keuchel), and a good enough bullpen. All of the most important players are coming back in 2018, and all they need to do is shore things up around the margins.

Hello Goodbye
Free Agency
RHP Joe Smith (2/$15M)
RHP Hector Rondon (2/$9M)
LHP Buddy Boshers (waivers, MIN)
C Tim Federowicz (minors)

RHP Gerrit Cole (from PIT)
Free Agency
RHP Luke Gregerson (to STL)
RHP Michael Fiers (to DET)
LHP Francisco Liriano (to DET)
RHP Tyler Clippard (to TOR)
OF Cameron Maybin (to MIA)
OF Carlos Beltran (retired)
C Juan Centeno (waivers, TEX)
RHP Elieser Hernandez (Rule 5, MIA)

RHP Joe Musgrove (to PIT)
RHP Michael Feliz (to PIT)
3B Colin Moran (to PIT)
OF Ramon Laureano (to OAK)
OF Preston Tucker (to ATL)

Analysis: They really didn’t have much they needed to do this winter, but they went the proactive route and beefed up their rotation while they had the chance (acquiring Cole for spare parts). They grabbed a couple new relievers too, replacing the ones they lost in free agency. They’re still the team to beat, not just in the AL West but in all of MLB.

The Angels

2017 record: 80-82

Quick season review: Took a step forward from 2016, but still missed the playoffs again. They’ve got the best player in the sport (Trout), plus a couple more supplementary stars (Upton, Simmons, Calhoun, Richards), but for every strength on their roster there’s a massive hole elsewhere. They particularly needed help throughout their pitching staff and infield.

Hello Goodbye
Free Agency
RHP Shohei Ohtani (int'l)
SS Zack Cozart (3/$38M)
C Rene Rivera (1/$3M)
OF Chris Young (1/$2M)
RHP Luke Bard (Rule 5, MIN)
1B Chris Carter (minors)
LHP Ian Krol (minors)
LHP John Lamb (minors)
RHP Taylor Cole (minors)
SS Kevin Maitan (minors)

RHP Jim Johnson (from ATL)
2B Ian Kinsler (from DET)
OF Jabari Blash (from NYY)
Free Agency
RHP Ricky Nolasco
RHP Yusmeiro Petit (to OAK)
RHP Bud Norris (to STL)
RHP Jesse Chavez (to TEX)
RHP Deolis Guerra (to TEX)
RHP Fernando Salas (to ARI)
RHP Daniel Wright (to CIN)
RHP Huston Street
RHP Andrew Bailey (retired)
IF Yunel Escobar
IF Cliff Pennington (to CIN)
2B Brandon Phillips
OF Ben Revere
OF Shane Robinson (to NYY)
OF Ramon Flores (to BOS)

None yet

Analysis: They actually had a pretty decent winter. Not a great one, but not their usual strategy of strengthening only the positions they already had set. They managed to land Ohtani, who finally addresses their starting rotation for once — they could have used even more help, but at least they got someone. They made a splash at 2B, which was a position of actual need. Sure, they signed an All-Star shortstop for eight figures per year even though they already have literally Andrelton Simmons, but Angels gonna Angel. (Not listed: Also re-signed OF Justin Upton to 5/$106M extension, avoiding opt-out clause.)

Texas Rangers

2017 record: 78-84

Quick season review: They hit a lot of dingers but not much else went right. The pitching staff disappointed, and it’s now without its biggest name (Darvish, though Hamels remains). Their lineup still has its anchor (Beltre), surrounded by familiar but inconsistent names.

Hello Goodbye
Free Agency
LHP Mike Minor (3/$28M)
RHP Doug Fister (1/$4M)
C Juan Centeno (waivers, HOU)
1B Tommy Joseph (waivers, PHI)
OF Carlos Tocci (Rule 5, PHI/CHW)
RHP Bartolo Colon (minors)
RHP Tim Lincecum (minors)
RHP Edinson Volquez (minors)
RHP Shawn Tolleson (minors)
RHP Deolis Guerra (minors)
RHP Steve Delabar (minors)
RHP Jonathon Niese (minors)
LHP Anthony Gose (minors)
C Curt Casali (minors)
2B Darwin Barney (minors)
3B Trevor Plouffe (minors)
OF Brett Eibner (minors)

LHP Matt Moore (from SFG)
RHP Ronald Herrera (from NYY)
Free Agency
RHP Andrew Cashner (to BAL)
RHP Nick Martinez (to Japan)
RHP A.J. Griffin (to NYM)
RHP Miguel Gonzalez (to CHW)
RHP Jason Grilli
LHP Dario Alvarez (to CHC/SEA)
RHP Jhan Marinez (to BAL)
RHP Anthony Bass (to CHC)
RHP Tanner Scheppers (to Japan)
RHP Preston Claiborne (to CLE)
1B Mike Napoli (to CLE)
3B Will Middlebrooks (to PHI)
IF Philip Gosselin (to CIN)
OF Carlos Gomez (to TBR)

QB Russell Wilson (to NYY)

Analysis: Still spending their time taking flyers on creative/bounce-back pitchers. Last year it was Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross, which to be fair kinda worked because Cashner panned out. Now it’s Fister and Minor, who probably shouldn’t be included in the same sentence for legal reasons, as well as Moore — and that trio isn’t depth but rather the actual expected rotation. Beyond that they did a lot of dumpster diving, albeit for some fun names like Colon and Lincecum. There aren’t that many serious holes in their lineup, just high-profile youngsters hoping to live up to their reputations, so they’re right to focus on that rotation. But they did most of their offseason shopping at Goodwill.

Seattle Mariners

2017 record: 78-84

Quick season review: They tried. They really did. Probably too hard, if we’re being honest. But once again they fell short of October despite being in full win-now mode. Only one of their star hitters fully lived up to his reputation (Cruz, while Cano and Seager were merely OK), and they basically didn’t have a rotation — 17 different pitchers made a start (A’s only used 12). Their longtime ace dropped a deuce thanks to injury (Felix).

Hello Goodbye
Free Agency
RHP Juan Nicasio (2/$17M)
OF Ichiro Suzuki (1/$1M)
LHP Wade LeBlanc (1/$1M)
RHP Mike Morin (waivers, KCR)
RHP Chasen Bradford (waivers, NYM)
IF Zach Vincej (waivers, CIN)
OF Cameron Perkins (waivers, PHI)
UT Andrew Romine (waivers, DET)
RHP Josh Smith (minors)
RHP Erik Goeddel (minors)
OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis (minors)
OF Junior Lake (minors)

RHP Shawn Armstrong (from CLE)
1B Ryon Healy (from OAK)
2B/OF Dee Gordon (from MIA)
Free Agency
RHP Yovani Gallardo
RHP Shae Simmons (to CHC)
RHP Ryan Weber (to TBR)
RHP Tony Zych
RHP Cody Martin
LHP Drew Smyly (to CHC)
C Carlos Ruiz
1B Yonder Alonso (to CLE)
1B Danny Valencia (to BAL)
2B Gordon Beckham
OF Jarrod Dyson (to ARI)

RHP Emilio Pagan (to OAK)
RHP Thyago Vieira (to CHW)

Analysis: Their big splash is an infielder whom they’re moving to the outfield. They also got Healy, but he’s already injured (c’mon, sign Brandon Moss, we dare you!). So many of their outfielders got hurt that they had to bring back 62-year-old Ichiro, though to be fair everyone’s happy he’s staying in the league. Their payroll is bloated, but on the bright side they also have utterly zero farm system so they can’t really trade for any midseason upgrades either. They probably should have found a way to do more this winter, but instead they spent their time scouring the waiver wire. This is win-now mode gone wrong.

Oakland A’s

2017 record: 75-87

Quick season review: Their rebuild reached its third year but finally began to show promise. The pitching staff was mostly bad and injured, made worse by trading away the best arms, but some of the young hitters emerged (Olson, Chapman) to supplement the incumbent leaders (Khrush, Lowrie). They finished in last place, but did so as optimistically as possible.

Hello Goodbye
Free Agency
RHP Yusmeiro Petit (2/$10m)
C Jonathan Lucroy (1/$7m)
RHP Trevor Cahill (1/$2m)
LHP Brett Anderson (minors)
UT Steve Lombardozzi (minors)

OF Stephen Piscotty (from STL)
LHP Ryan Buchter (from KCR)
RHP Emilio Pagan (from SEA)
OF Ramon Laureano (from HOU)
Free Agency
RHP Chris Smith
RHP Josh Smith (to SEA)
RHP Zach Neal (to LAD)
RHP Michael Brady (to MIL)
LHP Sam Moll (waivers, TOR)
C Ryan Lavarnway (to PIT)
OF Jaff Decker (to ATL)
RHP Brett Graves (Rule 5, MIA)

1B Ryon Healy (to SEA)
2B Joey Wendle (to TBR)
OF Jaycob Brugman (to BAL)
RHP Jesse Hahn (to KCR)
RHP Heath Fillmyer (to KCR)
IF Yairo Munoz (to STL)
2B Max Schrock (to STL)

Analysis: The Goodbye free agency section may as well be blank, as all of those departing players were fringe depth guys. Meanwhile, the A’s did a good job of checking off their winter to-do list — they added a few good relievers (one a lefty), a good starting outfielder, and a recent All-Star catcher, all for relative buy-low prices, and in the meantime they freed up the DH spot for Khris Davis. The rotation is thin, but is it even the worst in the division? The Rangers and Mariners are so questionable that they don’t even have fifth starters listed on Roster Resource.


Which AL West team had the best offseason?

This poll is closed

  • 37%
    Astros (one big addition, lost nothing)
    (75 votes)
  • 22%
    Angels (couple big additions; was it enough?)
    (44 votes)
  • 0%
    Rangers (dumpster diving!)
    (0 votes)
  • 3%
    Mariners (LOL)
    (7 votes)
  • 37%
    A’s (several quiet but shrewd additions)
    (74 votes)
200 votes total Vote Now