Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

AL West needs to catch up with A's in Hot Stove season

MLB.com

The first few weeks of the Hot Stove season have been busy, but there is still plenty of more action to come.

The A's have been the biggest movers and shakers in the American League West thus far, making the largest free-agent signing of the winter in the division and trading away arguably their best player. Meanwhile, the Rangers and Angels have been mentioned in a number of rumors, while the Astros will look to build on their 19-win improvement of a season ago and the Mariners hope to end their 14-year postseason drought.

The first few weeks of the Hot Stove season have been busy, but there is still plenty of more action to come.

The A's have been the biggest movers and shakers in the American League West thus far, making the largest free-agent signing of the winter in the division and trading away arguably their best player. Meanwhile, the Rangers and Angels have been mentioned in a number of rumors, while the Astros will look to build on their 19-win improvement of a season ago and the Mariners hope to end their 14-year postseason drought.

As we recover from our collective turkey coma, here's a look at where every team in the AL West stands right now as the Winter Meetings slowly become visible above the horizon.

HOUSTON ASTROS
What the Astros have done: The Astros traded for Angels backup catcher Hank Conger shortly after the end of the season, in a move that could be a precursor to other moves considering they now have four catchers on the 40-man roster: starter Jason Castro and backups Carlos Corporan, Max Stassi and Conger. They gave up right-hander Nick Tropeano, who made his Major League debut at the end of the year, and Minor League catcher Carlos Perez. They also claimed left-hander Will Harris off waivers from the D-backs.

Video: Luhnow looking to add bullpen help and another bat

What the Astros need to address: The Astros' main goal to start the offseason was bolstering the back of their bullpen, and they've yet to make a move in that regard. MLB.com reported earlier this month the team would pursue some of the bigger free agents -- a group that includes David Robertson, Sergio Romo and Andrew Miller. General manager Jeff Luhnow said the team wouldn't be shy about making an offer to a player who turned down a qualifying offer from his previous team. The Astros also made it clear they'd like to find a corner infielder to bolster the offense, as well as another starting pitcher to throw into the mix. They could also be active in the trade market, and Castro and outfielder Dexter Fowler are among those who could be dealt.
-- Brian McTaggart

LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM
What the Angels have done: The Angels at least partly filled two of their greatest needs seven days after the World Series, acquiring young starter Nick Tropeano from the Astros (for catcher Hank Conger) and veteran reliever Cesar Ramos from the Rays (for pitching prospect Mark Sappington) on Nov. 5.

Tropeano, a 24-year-old right-hander who came with Minor League catcher Carlos Perez, gave the Angels some much-desired cost-controlled starting pitching. Ramos, 30, provided them with an experienced left-hander who can pitch in any bullpen role.

Video: HOU@SEA: Tropeano strikes out five in MLB debut

The Angels have also agreed with 20-year-old Cuban middle infielder Roberto Baldoquin on an $8 million signing bonus. Baldoquin, who can't finalize his deal until he obtains a visa from the Dominican Republic, is expected to rise quickly through the Angels' system.

What the Angels need to address: With the majority of their 98-win team returning, and less than $10 million of wiggle room below the $189 million luxury-tax threshold, the Angels aren't expected to spend much -- if at all -- in the free-agent market. But they could make some noise in the trade market if the right suitors materialize.

Second baseman Howie Kendrick and third baseman David Freese, both entering their final seasons before free agency, are still available. And though prior moves don't make a trade necessary, the Angels will keep their ears open in hopes of acquiring more pitching in return. Young first baseman C.J. Cron and veteran reliever Kevin Jepsen -- one of many power right-handed relievers on the club -- could also be in play.
-- Alden Gonzalez

OAKLAND A'S
What the A's have done: Just as swiftly as they bolstered their lineup with the addition of Billy Butler on a three-year, $30 million deal did the A's subtract from it, shocking everyone by trading All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays in exchange for Brett Lawrie and three prospects. Together, these moves sent mixed messages, prompting much speculation that general manager Billy Beane and Co. are just getting started on their latest offseason project.

Along the way, the A's have pieced together some depth to lengthen their roster, including first baseman Ike Davis. Designated for assignment by the Pirates this offseason, Davis represents a low-risk, high-reward option for the A's, who could also be stocking up on bats to prepare for another trade. Two of the players received in the Donaldson deal, pitchers Kendall Graveman and Sean Nolin, provide immediate big league help.

Video: Jane Lee on A's deal with Billy Butler

What the A's need to address: Oakland needs a shortstop, and it's exploring several avenues to get one, though it's more likely the club will restrict its search to the trade or international market rather than explore any free agents. The A's own free-agent shortstop, Jed Lowrie, will likely be on the move elsewhere, and free agents Asdrubal Cabrera and Stephen Drew are seemingly out of their price range.

With that being said, the A's have a greater chance of trading for a shortstop, having already guaranteed a good chunk of their 2015 payroll to Butler. They could also entertain a trade for a heap of prospects to help fill out their farm system in exchange for Jeff Samardzija or Scott Kazmir. The A's won't necessarily shop them, but neither is off limits, and Samardzija has already been rumored in several trade talks.
-- Jane Lee

SEATTLE MARINERS
What the Mariners have done: Though it hasn't been finalized, the Mariners are expected to announce a seven-year, $100 million contract extension for third baseman Kyle Seager sometime next week. Earlier they picked up the 2015 option for right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma for $7 million. The rest of their moves have been minor -- acquiring right-hander Sam Gaviglio from St. Louis for Ty Kelly and claiming infielder Carlos Rivero (Red Sox) and lefty reliever Edgar Olmos (Marlins) off waivers.

Video: Mariners on verge of seven-year extension with Seager

What the Mariners need to address: General manager Jack Zduriencik has made it clear the club will add a right-handed bat or two to balance a decidedly lefty-leaning lineup, with a priority on finding someone to hit behind Robinson Cano in the cleanup spot. And it appears Seattle is closing in on such a piece, with reports of them agreeing to a four-year deal with free agent Nelson Cruz. Zduriencik also would like to add a back-of-the rotation type veteran for increased pitching depth and either bring back free-agent lefty Joe Beimel or add another arm or two to a bullpen that posted the lowest ERA in MLB in 2014.
-- Greg Johns

TEXAS RANGERS
What the Rangers have done: The Rangers hired Jeff Banister as their new manager and added Michael Young to the front office as a special assistant. They also set their coaching staff, retaining Mike Maddux (pitching), Dave Magadan (batting), Andy Hawkins (bullpen), Bobby Jones (assistant hitting), and promoting Steve Buechele (bench), Hector Ortiz (first base) and Jayce Tingler (field coordinator). They hired Tony Beasley to be the third-base coach. General manager Jon Daniels and assistant general manager Thad Levine were given contract extensions. The Rangers also pared down their outfield candidates by trading Daniel Robertson to the Angels and releasing Jim Adduci so he could go play in Korea. Pitchers David Martinez and Ross Wolf, infielder Ed Lucas and catcher Chris Gimenez were signed to Minor League contracts.

Video: Daniels, Levine receive contract extensions

What the Rangers need to address: The Rangers are looking for starting pitching and are close to re-signing Colby Lewis. They also submitted a bid for posted pitcher Hyeon-jong Yang, but his team, the Kia Tigers, rejected the winning bid. Though it's not known which MLB team made the highest offer -- or how much it was -- Yang will be staying in Korea for at least one more season. The Rangers have had multiple conversations with teams about starting pitching, including the Padres about Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy, and could have interest if the Nationals are willing to trade either Jordan Zimmermann or Doug Fister. The Rangers are interested in adding a veteran catcher to go with Robinson Chirinos, and they are still looking for outfield help. They could use at least a backup center fielder and a veteran hitter. The Rangers insist they are not going to be big spenders in the free-agent market.
-- T.R. Sullivan

Texas Rangers, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels, Houston Astros