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AL West offseason roundup: Every move by all 5 teams entering 2021

A’s and Astros take losses but restock; Mariners and Rangers rebuild; Angels reset pitching staff again

Cleveland Indians v Texas Rangers Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The 2021 MLB season begins today! Here at Athletics Nation we follow the A’s offseason moves closely, but they’re not the only team out there making trades and signing free agents. There are four other clubs competing for the AL West division crown, so let’s take a look at what they did over the winter.

In the transaction tables, free agent contracts are rounded to the nearest million. Players who re-signed with incumbent teams are not listed because they didn’t move anywhere (like Mike Fiers and Yusmeiro Petit). In the “Hello” columns, only players on the expected Opening Day rosters are mentioned. In the “Goodbye” columns, free agents who don’t have a team listed next to them remain unsigned.

Houston Astros

2020 record: 29-31 (.483, a 78-win pace)

Quick season review: The entire pitching staff got hurt, including reigning Cy Young winner Justin Verlander for basically the whole year, and most of the star lineup underperformed. Still, they managed to squeak into the playoffs as a newly created sixth seed, and then got hot and knocked out the A’s in the ALDS. They were later eliminated in the ALCS by the Rays.

Hello Goodbye
Free Agency
RHP Jake Odorizzi (2/$20m)
RHP Pedro Baez (2/$13m)
C Jason Castro (2/$7m)
RHP Ryne Stanek (1/$1m)
C Robel Garcia (waivers)

Free Agency
RHP Roberto Osuna
RHP Chris Devenski (to ARI)
RHP Brad Peacock
RHP Cy Sneed (to Japan)
RHP Chase De Jong (to PIT)
C Dustin Garneau (to DET)
IF Jack Mayfield (LAA)
OF George Springer (to TOR)
OF Josh Reddick

LHP Cionel Perez (to CIN)

Analysis: Houston’s biggest moves aren’t listed above, as they re-signed outfielder Michael Brantley to a two-year, $32 million contract to stay in town. Then they gave starting pitcher Lance McCullers a 5yr/$85m extension, which doesn’t affect 2021 because he wasn’t a free agent yet but does lock him into their rotation for a long time.

But even with those outlays to retain top talent, they still lost some big names, led by Springer. They didn’t get much last year from Osuna, Devenski, Peacock, or Reddick, but all had been key pieces of the juggernaut in the past. They’ll also be without Verlander for most of the year, and injured starter Framber Valdez for some of it, though they did bring in Odorizzi to help offset that — but he and Baez won’t quite be ready to start the season after signing late, which means they’ll miss at least the first four games against the A’s.

They got weaker over the winter in terms of the names on the roster and did surprisingly little about it, but only a couple of their losses actually played well last year. They also should be able to count on bounce-backs from some of their remaining healthy stars. They’re as vulnerable as ever, but they’re not done yet, and sometimes an animal is most dangerous when it’s cornered and threatened.

Seattle Mariners

2020 record: 27-33 (.450, a 73-win pace)

Quick season review: As usual, the Mariners showed some occasional flashes but generally didn’t have enough go right to snap their two-decade playoff drought, even with the expanded postseason bracket. They’re finally in a true rebuild phase after the Cano/Cruz contention window yielded absolutely no return.

Hello Goodbye
Free Agency
LHP James Paxton (1/$9m)
RHP Ken Giles (2/$7m)
RHP Chris Flexen (1/$5m)
RHP Kenyan Middleton (1/$1m)
RHP Drew Steckenrider (minors)
RHP Will Vest (Rule 5)

RHP Rafael Montero (from TEX)
Free Agency
RHP Yoshihisa Hirano (to ARI)
2B Dee Strange-Gordon


Analysis: Wellness check on GM Jerry Dipoto? Maybe he never quite got his Zoom set up during shelter-in-place. Or maybe he made all the whirlwinds of trades he wanted for years, and now he’s sitting back and letting the seeds grow to see what he’s built. In addition to the table above, they also re-signed Kendall Graveman as a reliever, and their Team CEO & President foolishly exploded himself.

The previous star core has been stripped down to pretty much just Kyle Seager and Marco Gonzales, plus the return of Paxton and perhaps a comeback from Mitch Haniger. Otherwise, there’s a new young core forming around them, with more prospects on the way. Note that Giles won’t pitch in 2021 as he recovers from TJS, and was signed for 2022.

The Angels

2020 record: 26-34 (.433, a 70-win pace)

Quick season review: Same old Angels. Trout, Rendon, Ohtani, and the expensive husks of Upton and Pujols weren’t enough of a head start to make a dent in the AL West standings, even with a breakout pitching performance by Dylan Bundy. They haven’t gone to the postseason since 2014, and haven’t won a postseason game since 2009.

Hello Goodbye
Free Agency
LHP Jose Quintana (1/$8m)
C Kurt Suzuki (1/$2m)
LHP Alex Claudio (1/$1m)
LHP Tony Watson (1/$1m)
RHP Steve Cishek (1/$1m)
RHP Junior Guerra (minors)
OF Juan Lagares (minors)

RHP Raisel Iglesias (from CIN)
RHP Alex Cobb (from BAL)
RHP Aaron Slegers (from TBR)
SS Jose Iglesias (from BAL)
OF Dexter Fowler (from STL)
Free Agency
RHP Justin Anderson (to TEX)
RHP Matt Andriese (to BOS)
RHP Kenyan Middleton (to SEA)
LHP Hoby Milner (to MIL)
RHP Hansel Robles (to MIN)
C Robel Garcia (to HOU)


Analysis: This is probably their best recent attempt at building a pitching staff, though they still didn’t make any huge splashes despite being a big-budget bully whenever there’s a right-handed slugger available. We’ll see if their new GM built enough quality and depth on the staff to support the lineup, between the latest round of veteran starter buy-lows and a suddenly decent bullpen that nabbed two extra arms at the last minute (Watson and Cishek). One of these days they’ll stop being perpetually disappointing, so maybe it’ll be this year.

Texas Rangers

2020 record: 22-38 (.367, a 59-win pace)

Quick season review: It’s a rebuild. Almost nothing went right last summer, and they finished last in the entire American League, better only than the Pirates in the NL. Nothing much else to say.

Hello Goodbye
Free Agency
RHP Kohei Arihara (2/$6m)
OF David Dahl (1/$3m)
IF Brock Holt (1/$2m)
RHP Mike Foltynewicz (1/$2m)
RHP Ian Kennedy (1/$2m)
RHP Brett de Geus (Rule 5)
RHP Josh Sborz (minors)
C Charlie Culberson (minors)

RHP Dane Dunning (from CHW)
C Jonah Heim (from OAK)
DH Khris Davis (from OAK)
1B Nate Lowe (from TBR)
Free Agency
RHP Jesse Chavez
RHP Juan Nicasio
RHP Edinson Volquez
C Jeff Mathis (to PHI)
2B Rougned Odor
SS Andrew Romine (to SEA)
DH Shin-Soo Choo (to Korea)
UT Derek Dietrich (to NYY)

RHP Lance Lynn (to CHW)
RHP Rafael Montero (to SEA)
C Aramis Garcia (to OAK)
SS Elvis Andrus (to OAK)
OF Scott Heineman (to CIN)

Analysis: They unloaded their highest-paid player (Andrus) in a salary dump for another albatross contract (Davis), they DFA’d their second-highest-paid player (Odor) and will eat the rest of his money (2/$28m), and they traded away the final year of their ace starter (Lynn) for a younger arm (Dunning). Put simply, they aren’t playing for 2021.

Oakland A’s

2020 record: 36-24 (.600, a 97-win pace)

Quick season review: AL West division champs! The A’s played .600 ball for the third straight year, and this time the Astros finally blinked, giving Oakland the chance to pounce in the standings. A lot actually went wrong, like injuries and star underperformance and a virus scare and wildfire smoke, but so much else went right (especially in the bullpen) that it worked out anyway. They won their first playoff series since 2006 in a newly created Wild Card Round against the White Sox, but as usual couldn’t get past the ALDS as the Astros got the last laugh.

Hello Goodbye
Free Agency
RHP Trevor Rosenthal (1/$11m)
RHP Yusmeiro Petit (1/$3m)
RHP Sergio Romo (1/$2m)
DH Mitch Moreland (1/$2m)
LHP Reymin Guduan (minors)
2B Jed Lowrie (minors)
OF Ka'ai Tom (Rule 5)

LHP Adam Kolarek (from LAD)
C Aramis Garcia (from TEX)
SS Elvis Andrus (from TEX)
Free Agency
RHP Liam Hendriks (to CHW)
LHP Mike Minor (to KCR)
RHP Joakim Soria (to ARI)
LHP T.J. McFarland
2B Tommy La Stella (to SFG)
SS Marcus Semien (to TOR)
3B Jake Lamb (to CHW)
OF Robbie Grossman (to DET)

C Jonah Heim (to TEX)
DH Khris Davis (to TEX)
IF Sheldon Neuse (to LAD)
OF Dustin Fowler (to PIT)

Analysis: The offseason started out ugly and then finished hot, not unlike a typical contending A’s season. Almost half the 2020 active roster entered free agency, and only two of them came back in pitchers Mike Fiers and Yusmeiro Petit. The White Sox got their revenge by poaching Hendriks, the All-MLB closer who sealed their defeat last October.

But then Oakland suddenly struck in February, making several rapid moves to take advantage of the late-winter bargain market, and when the dust settled they’d not only restocked their bullpen but improved it, with an uptick at DH and a new starting SS. And Lowrie came back! The team is different, as always, but it has the chance to be even better than last year.


Which AL West team had the best offseason entering 2021?

This poll is closed

  • 75%
    A’s (notable losses, strong additions, still stacked)
    (125 votes)
  • 6%
    Astros (notable losses, but still stacked)
    (10 votes)
  • 1%
    Mariners (quiet with a couple buy-low additions)
    (2 votes)
  • 13%
    Angels (rebuilt pitching staff with buy-lows)
    (23 votes)
  • 3%
    Rangers (purged their former core and hit reset)
    (5 votes)
165 votes total Vote Now