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Winter Meetings Primer: The Amercian League West

With the December Winter meetings almost on tap (December 7-10), let’s see what the future may hold in Nashville…

Can I get a group on, er hug?
Can I get a group on, er hug?
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Next up, the AL West.

Texas Rangers

In a season that was expected to be a battle between the Angels and Rangers, the Rangers ended up staying just healthy enough to take the division crown. The division turned into a three team race with the Houston Astros joining the fray.

The Rangers ended up winning the tightest division in baseball by a mere two games and just 20 games separated them from last place.

Key Free Agents: SP Yovani Gallardo, SP Colby Lewis, 1B Mike Napoli, RP Ross Ohlendorf, CF Drew Stubbs, CF Will Venable

Moves: Traded CF Leonys Martin and RP Anthony Bass to the Seattle Mariners for RP Tom Wilhelmsen, OF James Jones (since non-tendered) and a PTBNL.

Needs:

SS, Techncailly need a need as Elvis Andru is signed through 2022 but hasn't cleared an 85 OPS+ in three seasons.

UT, Much of the bench was let go.

SP: Nobody had a FIP under 3.50 last season, but there is plenty of depth. Plus Yu Darvish should return in 2016.

Outlook: The Rangers actually look fairly well set, although two thirds of their lineup will be over 30 next year.

Potential Tribe involvement: Doubtful unless a major salary dump occurs by the Rangers.

Houston Astros

This was the surprise team in 2015. After years of finishing with 100+ losses, the Astros roared out of the gate, and led the division for a good portion of the season.  They then slumped, and then rebounded to make the Wild Card Game, eventually losing to the Division Series to the Royals.

Key Free Agents: SP Scott Kazmir, RP Oliver Perez, RP Chad Qualls, RP Tony Sipp, RP Joe Thatcher, 1B Chris Carter

Moves: Traded IF Jed Lowrie to the A's for a minor leaguer.

Needs:

1B, Unless Evan Gattis learns 1B this winter, this position is currently occupied by John Singleton  who hit poorly in his debut last season. With Carter non-tendered, this is a huge hole in the lineup right now.

C, Jason Castro could be moved as well.

SP, With Kazmir gone, there is a spot open at the back of the rotation.

RP, Losing Qualls and Sipp opens a few spots.

Outlook: General manager Jeff Luhnow will need to make a few tweaks to stay in contention. There are some good minor leaguers coming up, but 1B and some pitching is needed.

Potential Tribe involvement: Would the Astros by interested in Carlos Santana? They might have some talent that Chris Antonetti might be intrigued by. Plus free agents Carter and Sipp would both be decent fits to the roster.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

The Angels ended up having a disappointed 2015. They were the co-favorites heading into the year, but fell just a bit short.

Key Free Agents: 3B David Freese, C Chris Ianetta, LF Matt Joyce, SP Mat Latos, OF David Murphy, OF Shane Victorino, RP Wesley Wright, OF David DeJesus

Moves: Traded SS Erick Aybar, minor leaguers and cash to the Atlanta Braves for SS Andrelton Simmons and a minor leaguer. Sold Collin Cowgill to the Indians

Needs:

C, Geovany Soto was recently signed to be there starter. I think he is past his prime.

OF, The Angels were active at the trade deadline, picking up 3 outfirelders, all who are now free agents. Right now they have Efren Navarro and Kole Calhoun penciled on the corners around Mike Trout. An upgrade for at least one is in order

RP, the bullpen will need some depth signings

Outlook: It will be interesting to see what new general manager Billy Eppler will do. They should be in a win now mode, have an owner than spend lots of cash and probably need to contend before Albert Pujols and his mega deal become a severe albatross.

Potential Tribe involvement: The Angels need outfield help, which is what the Tribe needs too. Maybe Roerto Perez could be an option, but doubtful.

Seattle Mariners

For years, Jack Zduriencik couldn't seem to field a decent hitting team to go along with a stellar starting staff. It finally cost him his job in August. Former Angels GM Jerry Dipoto was hired a month later and has been serious retooling the roster.

Key Free Agents: RP Joe Beimel, OF Franklin Gutierrez (re-signed), SP Hisashi Iwakuma

Moves: Traded RP Danny Farquhar, IF Brad Miller and 1B Logan Morrison to the Rays for SP Nate Karns, RP C.J. Riefenhaueser and Boog Powell. Traded two minor leaguers to the Padres for Joaquin Benoit. Traded RP Tom Wilhelmsen, OF James Jones and a PTBNL to the Rangers for CF Leonys Martin and RP Anthony Bass. Traded RP C.J. Riefenhaueser and OF Mark Trumbo to the Orioles for C Steve Clevenger. Signed C Chris Ianetta. Signe OF Nori Aoki.

Needs:

OF, Even with the acqusitions of Aoki and Martin, another outfielder is needed for depth.

SS, Ketel MArte had a fantastic debut, but will still only be 22 next season.

1B, I don't think Jesus Montero is the answer. Nelson Cruz might end up here too.

SP, Losing Iwakuma will hurt, but they have a solid top 4.

Outlook: Dipoto has already done a lot of damage control prior to the meetings. Will he keep it up? I think he'll slow down, but the offense still needs a boost, preferably at first.

Potential Tribe involvement: Maybe a few minor transactions, but I don't see a fit here. But Dipoto has worked with Antonetti in the past, so who knows.

Oakland Athletics

Billy Beane had a very curious offseason last year. And the team didn't mesh well at all during the season. That culminated in Beane making a lot of deadline deals for the second straight season. Beane was promoted and now David Forst is the general manager. It still remains to be seen if the A's are actually in full tear down mode.

Key Free Agents: RP Edward Mujica, 1B Ike Davis

Moves: Signed Rich Hill. Traded SP Jesse Chavez to the Blue Jays for RP Liam Hendriks.  Traded a minor leaguer to the Astros for IF Jed Lowrie. Traded RP Drew Pomeranz to the Padres for 1B Yonder Alonso and RP Marc Rzepczynski.

Needs:

SS, Marcus Semien hit well enough last season, but defensively he spectacularly awful. Would Forst look for an upgrade here?

IF, Danny Valencia had a great 2015, but was it a mirage. He will be 31 next season, so a back up plan might be in order.

SP, Right now Rich Hill, yes him, is slotted as the #5.

Outlook: Beane did like to make sweeping changes. Will Forst keep at it like his predecessor?

Potential Tribe involvement: Could we pursue Coco Crisp for a last go-round? His numbers were terrible last year, but he was injured. He could be a decent get, if the A's pick up a decent chunk of the tab.