The Angels have put in a lot of work this offseason making various moves to be competitive in the wild American League West. The front office made moves that help them win right now and upgraded last season’s weakness of the pitching staff. Adding key pieces include Noah Syndergaard, Michael Lorenzen, and Aaron Loup while retaining Raisel Iglesias. These moves put into question how they can compete within their division.
Houston Astros: Old Reliable, but for how much Longer
The Houston Astros have made moves, but none have been blockbusters. The resigned Justin Verlander to a 2-year 50-million-dollar deal. Re-signing him takes him off the market for teams hungry for starting pitching and adds a reliable arm to the rotation.
However, significant relief pitchers have left to other teams include Kendall Graveman to the White Sox, Yimi Garcia to the Blue Jays, and Brooks Raley to the Rays. These losses could be significant could affect their overall pitching performance. In 2021, their pitching staff ranked seventh in earned run average with a 3.78.
The biggest question is where star Carlos Correa ends up. Correa did not sign an extension last offseason making him one of the marquee free agents. He has gotten looks by big teams like the Yankees, Cubs, Tigers, and Dodgers interested in him. The Astros are still pursuing him, but with so much unknown with the lockout in place, it will be interesting where he ends up.
Being the reigning AL West champions it is hard not to pick the Astros to win it again. However, with so many unknowns in their roster right now it will be interesting to see what other moves they can make when the lockout concludes.
By being the most consistent team in the division it is hard not to put the Astros first in the division. There are still moves to be made to solidify them coming in first in the division, but seeing what this front office has done in the past it is easy to say they have a few more tricks up their sleeves.
Seattle Mariners: The Upstarts Ready to Win Now
The Mariners made multiple moves this offseason to have a roster to break their 21 yearlong streaks of not making the playoffs. With the roster, they constructed last year they missed the playoffs by two games. At the trade deadline, they made smart moves that helped them for the 2021 season and future seasons. Their most notable move was trading Kendall Graveman that was controversial at the time but worked out in their favor by being able to get pitchers Diego Castillo and Tyler Anderson.
Going into this offseason it was evident they are ready to win now. Their biggest signee of 2021 American League Cy Young winner Robbie Ray to a five-year 115-million-dollar deal. They also traded for utility player Adam Frazier from the Padres. Frazier was having an outstanding year with the Pirates then got traded to the Padres where his production was due to not having a specific role with the team. By having a specific role with the club his production is sure to go up.
With losing James Paxton in free agency there are some holes to fill in the starting rotation that can be fixed once the lockout ends. Other notable free agents that the Mariners have not made offers for (yet) include Tyler Anderson, Sean Doolittle, Kyle Seager, and Yusei Kikuchi it shows that the Mariners are not done making moves. Once the lockout ends it will be interesting to see what other moves the Mariners make.
The Mariners are the team to watch out for in the American League. However, they are one or two more pieces away from becoming the AL West winners making them second in the division.
The Texas Rangers: Spending Big Bucks, Possibly Too Soon Though
The Rangers went out in free agency and wanted to spend money and that is exactly what they did. Signing top free agents Corey Seager and Marcus Semien to deals. Seager acquired a 10-year 325-million-dollar deal and Semien acquired a seven-year, 175-million-dollar deal. Acquiring these two players bolsters the Ranger’s middle infield for years to come. Semien had his best season in Toronto with 45 home runs and 102 runs batted in, while Seager had 16 home runs and 57 runs batted in.
In addition to their big infield signings, they also signed pitcher Jon Gray to help bolster the starting rotation. Gray does not fill all their pitching needs, but it is a good start with promising rookies on the come-up.
All these moves made by the Rangers are promising for a team that has been struggling for the past couple of years. The last time the Rangers made the playoffs was back in 2016 and getting swept by the Toronto Blue Jays. In 2021, they finished last in the AL West posting a 60-102 record. It is going to be a climb to try and be a playoff team, but this team will not be a laughingstock in the league anymore with the moves they have made.
These moves it does give them more wins and a more competitive team, but they are still a few key pieces away from becoming a dominant team in the AL West putting them fourth in the division.
What Is Going on Oakland?
The team with the most questions going into the 2022 season is the Oakland Athletics. Previous manager Bob Melvin left to manage the Padres. New coach Mark Kotsay takes over the team with key pieces leaving in free agency.
Key names include Starling Marte and Mark Canha leaving to play with the Mets. While starting catcher Yan Gomes left to play for the Cubs. The A’s have a laundry list of players that are set to be free agents including relief pitchers Trevor Rosenthal, Jake Diekman, and Andrew Chafin. Along with key starters Josh Harrison and Khris Davis.
The A’s being a very small market team makes it harder to sign big free agents along with trying to retain their players. It will be interesting if they make any other moves to improve this roster for 2022. Knowing the A’s front office, they will have a move or two to make this lineup competitive. However, it is hard to believe that they will be able to compete with the top teams in the American League.
With all the improvement within the division and so many questions during the offseason, the A’s finish last in the division as this begins the start of a rebuild in Oakland.
Where Does This Leave the Angels?
With this new and improved AL West where does this leave the Angels? As stated above they made moves to acquire what they needed including Syndergaard, Lorenzen, and Loup. These three players alone will improve that staff if they pitch to their potential.
There are a few questions about what the Angels will get from Syndergaard after being hurt for the majority of 2021. However, being 29 years old and having such a long recovery time has given Syndergaard the time needed to fully heal making it more likely he will have a productive year.
Other than free agency the Angels will be adding a lot of key injured players back to their lineup. This includes star players Anthony Rendon and Mike Trout will hopefully have very productive seasons. They also get back Patrick Sandoval posted a 3.62 earned run average before getting hurt.
With so much unknown with the lockout, the Angels can also make another move or two to try and become an even stronger lineup. With pitching being a priority-free agent include Carlos Rodon and Carlos Martinez it gives the Angels a chance to solidify that weakness even more.
Overall, with a great season the Angels could compete for a wild card spot but with the Mariners on the come up and the Astros always being consistent the Angels most likely finish third in the division in 2022.
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