Welcome to theScore's MLB offseason team needs, in which we'll break down every club's roster and its key free agents, along with how holes could be filled in free agency. Up next is the AL West.
2018 Record: 103-59 (1st)
Projected 2019 Payroll: $122.5M
Key free agents: Martin Maldonado, Brian McCann, Evan Gattis, Marwin Gonzalez, Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, Tony Sipp
Team needs: Catcher, starting pitcher, outfielder, designated hitter
Losing Lance McCullers Jr. to surgery at the same time both Keuchel and Morton hit free agency helps crystallize the Astros' most glaring need entering 2019: starting pitching. Plugging McHugh back into the rotation seems like a logical internal fix, and giving James an extended look also makes sense. Forrest Whitley could get a call, too, but that's relying on a lot of unproven talent for a team that eyes a World Series title. Any investment it makes to improve the rotation probably won't be short term, as both Verlander and Cole will be free agents after next season. What can't get lost is the need for extra pop with Gonzalez, McCann, and Gattis all hitting the open market. The Astros have opted for a veteran DH before with Carlos Beltran, and a similar signing could be in the cards.
2018 Record: 80-82 (4th)
Projected 2019 Payroll: $144.7M
Key free agents: Chris Young, Eric Young, Garrett Richards, Jim Johnson, Junichi Tazawa, Blake Wood
Team needs: Starting pitcher, catcher, second baseman, closer
The biggest goal - as is constantly the case with the Angels - is to find a way not to squander Trout's prime. Losing the pitching half of Ohtani is painful and only serves to further underline how meager the pitching staff is as a whole. The Angels have never shied away from spending big (see: Pujols), and this offseason may be no different. The farm system is improving, but not to the point that the Angels can likely offer enough to get a top name via trade. Anticipate major activity on the open market.
2018 Record: 97-65 (2nd)
Projected 2019 Payroll: $77.7M
Key free agents: Jonathan Lucroy, Jed Lowrie, Matt Joyce, Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Edwin Jackson, Jeurys Familia, Shawn Kelley
Team needs: Starting pitcher, catcher, outfielder
A season after surprising everyone, the Athletics suddenly have expectations. If tradition holds, they won't aim to spend big in free agency to fill the void in the rotation, even with Sean Manaea poised to miss the season. Left-handed prospect Jesus Luzardo could rise through the ranks, and Jharel Cotton could regain his status as a starter, too. A.J. Puk was on the verge of breaking through before he lost 2018 to Tommy John. If he makes it to the bigs this season, it won't be until later on. Otherwise, the A's will probably aim to find affordable alternatives to the big names. The payroll is expected to increase, but it's not clear by how much, especially since it's projected to jump simply by the team going through the arbitration process.
2018 Record: 89-73 (3rd)
Projected 2019 Payroll: $147.4M
Key free agents: Gordon Beckham, Andrew Romine, Nelson Cruz, Cameron Maybin, Denard Span, Zach Duke, David Phelps, Adam Warren
Team needs: Outfielder, starting pitcher, designated hitter, catcher
The offseason has already been busy in Seattle with the re-acquisition of Smith for catcher Mike Zunino. This created an immediate need for a new backstop. The outfield logjam appears fixed by shifting Cano to first base and allowing Gordon to become the permanent second baseman. The team is also teetering on the edge of a restructuring - if not a rebuild - and that could begin with a trade of ace southpaw Paxton, despite starting pitching being the biggest need.
2018 Record: 67-95 (5th)
Projected 2019 Payroll: $94.7M
Key free agents: Robinson Chirinos, Adrian Beltre, Bartolo Colon, Doug Fister, Yovani Gallardo, Matt Moore, Martin Perez, Tony Barnette
Team needs: Starting pitcher, outfielder, relief pitcher
It'd be foolish to expect the Rangers to drastically address all of their holes in one offseason. The offensive core is decent even if Beltre retires or signs elsewhere, and Jose Leclerc is a legitimate top arm to anchor the bullpen. But the starting rotation is in shambles. Texas has one pitcher in MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects, but 18-year-old Cole Winn isn't expected to be major-league ready until 2021. With next year looking like a transition season, the ideal scenario would involve trading Choo to get his contract off the books, but it might be tough to find a buyer.