Are the Astros still kings of the AL West? Or have other teams moved past them this MLB offseason?
With the MLB offseason around its midway point, it's a good time to see where teams are at heading into 2023. Here are my thoughts on each team in the AL West.
Houston Astros PG Score: 7.75/10
The 2023 Astros are the defending World Series champs, but that doesn't give them a free pass to a good offseason. Even with the talented core this team has, competing in a tough division requires some moves that will, at the very least, replace what you are letting walk. Although they added Jose Abreu and retained underappreciated free agent Michael Brantley, whenever you let a Hall of Famer such as Justin Verlander walk out the door, it is going to hurt your team. With teams like the Mariners and Rangers continuing to build something, the Astros may see themselves not as dominant in 2023.
What move would I have liked for them to make? Re-signing Justin Verlander would have been instrumental in building upon the great season you got from your young starting rotation in 2022.
As we saw in 2021, this team can make great strides, even without JV on the field. However, losing his clubhouse presence and Jim Crane going full Jerry Jones and firing GM James Click after a World Series win is head-scratching. With the improvements the Mariners and Rangers have made this offseason, the Astros could fall in the AL West for the first time in a long time.
Los Angeles Angels PG Score: 8.75/10
The Angels were one of the teams that came out of the gate making moves this offseason. Even something as small as adding LHP Tyler Anderson on a 3-year deal, coming off a solid 2022, makes this team a more viable competitor in 2023. Although I do not believe the Angels will amount to much, you never really know what a team with the two best players in MLB can turn out to be. Their main concern should be showing Shohei Ohtani that you want to compete in order to re-sign or extend him as soon as possible.
What move(s) do I wish they had made? This will be the first, and likely only, team that I will evaluate multiple misses on. Though they are past their primes, Kenley Jansen and Craig Kimbrel would have been two veteran pieces in a non-established bullpen in 2023. Even though both pitchers have made every save intense over the past few seasons, they combined for 64 saves in 2022, and would have looked really good as a dual-threat combo at the back of this Angels bullpen.
What move can they make to turn this into a 9+ offseason? Although it has not been publicly stated, the Tigers should be more than willing to put together a package to move LHP Gregory Soto, who has established himself as one of the best relievers in baseball over the past couple seasons. If the Angels can add him to the bullpen, I would be much more confident heading into a tough road for 2023.
The Angels are really just hoping for health in 2023. If they get that, who knows what this team can accomplish? Having two of the best players on Earth is obviously a huge advantage, but does it really matter if you never win anything?
Oakland Athletics PG Score: 4/10
Not only is this an organization that traded its whole team over the last year, but also an organization that got next-to-nothing in return for 4 All-Star-caliber players. They held off on trading Sean Murphy for way too long, which led to a disappointing return. They have also made no significant moves in free agency to this point, not that it really matters, as they are in no situation to compete for anything. They're just looking to provide reps for young players at the Big League level in 2023.
Seattle Mariners PG Score: 9/10
The Seattle Mariners have had a sneaky-good offseason so far after acquiring a solid power bat in Teoscar Hernandez from the Blue Jays for reliever Erik Swanson, then flipping OF Jesse Winker, who was exposed for his lack of interest in being a Mariner, and utility bench bat Abraham Toro for solid 2B Kolten Wong from the Brewers. They subtracted Kyle Lewis, who struggled to stay on the field, for OF Cooper Hummel, and lost Mitch Haniger to the Giants in free agency. I think the acquisitions they made were all upgrades and could put them into elite company atop the AL.
I feel as if the Mariners really added depth to their positions of need and don't really know of any specific moves that would have moved them to a 9 or 10. I would like to see them add a platoon bat at 3B to pair with Eugenio Suarez to go at right-handed starters. Overall though, great offseason for Seattle.
Texas Rangers PG Score: 10/10
The Texas Rangers, objectively, won the offseason for the second straight season. In a matter of two months, they completely rebuilt their rotation to the point where their ace of 2022, Martin Perez, turned into their 4, or possibly their 5. The additions of Jacob deGrom, Andrew Heaney, Nathan Eovaldi, and Jake Odorizzi immediately flips this rotation from bottom 5 to top 3.
I am extremely excited to watch this young lineup, led by their half-a-billion-dollar middle infield in Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, and deep rotation begin to open the window for this team's contention. Not to mention, star prospects Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker will continue their progression. Their debuts are soon to come.