Offseason team needs: AL West
Welcome to theScore's MLB offseason team needs, where we'll break down every club's roster and key free agents, along with how holes could be filled in free agency. Up next is the AL West.
*Player ages for 2021 season
Los Angeles Angels
2020 record: 26-34 (4th in AL West)
Projected 2021 payroll: $169M
Key free agents: Cam Bedrosian, Andrelton Simmons, Julio Teheran
Needs: Starter (2), reliever, infielder
|2||Jared Walsh (L)||1B||27|
|5||Shohei Ohtani (L)||DH||26|
While a lineup without Albert Pujols is optimal, it doesn't make his $30-million salary go away. Perhaps new general manager Perry Minasian can convince the future Hall of Famer to retire and have the team pay him his $30-million salary in a coaching role, which will get the Angels a little further from the luxury-tax threshold. A left-handed hitting infielder like Didi Gregorius might be a wise add. Fletcher proved himself extremely valuable at the plate last year, but he's not necessarily a shortstop. Gregorius could fill that role if he falters while relegating Barreto to a more suitable bench role.
Bundy was a breath of fresh air for a team that has been starving to find starting help on the open market for years. However, even Bundy and a strong season from Heaney couldn't get the Angels even close to playoff contention. Maybe things go a bit differently if Ohtani stays healthy and performs at his rookie year levels, but that certainly doesn't seem likely in 2021 as the two-way phenom may not start the year in the rotation. For that reason, it's crucial the Angels add an elite front-of-the-rotation starter as well as a closer to give Ty Buttrey some help in the late innings.
2020 record: 29-31 (2nd)
Projected 2021 payroll: $154.5M
Key free agents: Michael Brantley, Roberto Osuna, Brad Peacock, Josh Reddick, George Springer
Needs: Outfielder (2), reliever
|2||Kyle Tucker (L)||RF||24|
|4||Yordan Alvarez (L)||DH||24|
The Astros, once a seemingly unstoppable juggernaut, have noticeable holes to fill in the outfield. The potential loss of both Springer and Brantley to free agency is huge, and while Tucker's breakout in 2020 eases the transition, it doesn't make up for having both Straw and McCormick as everyday players. In all likelihood, Houston will add at least one outfielder, but it's unclear if that will be enough. Bregman was his regular dominant self last year, but Altuve and Gurriel struggled and Correa looked beatable at times. If the Astros plan on retaking the division from the A's, they'll need to return to creating runs at an elite level.
|3||Lance McCullers Jr.||R||27|
The Astros need to create runs in large part because their run prevention is no longer elite. With Greinke atop the rotation and Valdez, McCullers, and Urquidy filling out the top four, it's fine. Maybe even good. But without Gerrit Cole or Justin Verlander, this team looks a lot further from World Series contention. Even further, without Roberto Osuna, the bullpen looks pretty beatable as well. Beyond Ryan Pressly and Enoli Paredes - coming off of a decent but not dominant season - the Astros don't have many lockdown relief options.
2020 record: 36-24 (1st)
Projected 2021 payroll: $83.8M
Key free agents: Mike Fiers, Robbie Grossman, Liam Hendriks, Tommy La Stella, Jake Lamb, T.J. McFarland, Mike Minor, Yusmeiro Petit, Marcus Semien, Joakim Soria
Needs: Shortstop, closer, starter
|2||Tony Kemp (L)||2B||29|
|5||Matt Olson (L)||1B||27|
Pinder has been a capable role player for the A's for four seasons now, but asking the 28-year-old to be an everyday shortstop is playing with fire. Particularly when he's coming off a pretty dismal 24-game stint, posting a .688 OPS. In short, the team desperately needs to find a replacement for Semien and, while they don't spend a lot, making a solid investment might make sense with just over $8 million in total payroll committed for the 2022 season.
The A's own a starting rotation with a high degree of variance. Bassitt's 2.29 ERA was elite but his peripherals indicated regression. Luzardo seems to be on the cusp of a breakout, but lack of command is holding him back. Montas has been one of the more difficult starters to pin down since his 2018 season, and Manaea vacillates between legitimate ace and decent left-hander who can't make it deep into games. Regardless, these are the four the A's will roll with for better or for worse, but expect a veteran to be added. More importantly, Oakland will have to address the loss of Hendriks at the back end of the bullpen. For a couple of seasons, the recipe for the Athletics' success has been preventing runs with a parade of elite relievers, but that might not be the case entering 2021, as the club will be potentially losing Soria and Petit.
2020 record: 27-33 (3rd)
Projected 2021 payroll: $77.6M
Key free agents: Dee Strange-Gordon, Yoshihisa Hirano
Needs: Outfielder, 2nd baseman, starter, reliever
|1||J.P. Crawford (L)||SS||26|
|4||Kyle Seager (L)||3B||33|
|6||Jose Marmolejos (L)||LF||28|
Although it'll be another year of development for the Mariners, they're on the cusp of fielding a contender. Adding a more natural second baseman might be smart. The 28-year-old Moore broke out last year, mashing eight homers over 38 games, but he's a natural outfielder and it'd be best to keep Marmelejos to platoon duties at best. With Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic seemingly busting down the door that's keeping them in the minors, maybe relegating Moore to outfield duties is short-sighted. However, there's nothing guaranteeing both of those prospects immediately make an impact and, if they do, having Moore for depth is a strength, not a weakness.
It's a heavily left-handed rotation, so adding a right-hander might be a smart idea. But, again, before investing in a starter, the Mariners may want some extra time to figure out exactly who Sheffield and Dunn are. The former seems like he turned a corner last year, but his strikeout rate remains non-elite. Meanwhile, Dunn got beat up thanks to a dismal walk rate. If they're both mid-rotation starters, Seattle still needs an ace.
2020 record: 22-38 (5th)
Projected 2021 payroll: $97.3M
Key free agents: Jesse Chavez, Shin-Soo Choo, Derek Dietrich, Corey Kluber, Jeff Mathis, Juan Nicasio, Andrew Romine, Edinson Volquez
Needs: 1st baseman, 2nd baseman, 3rd baseman, starter (2), reliever
|1||Leody Taveras (S)||CF||22|
|3||Willie Calhoun (L)||DH||26|
|4||Joey Gallo (L)||RF||27|
|6||Rougned Odor (L)||2B||27|
|8||Ronald Guzman (L)||1B||26|
Depending on what Taveras is and whether Solak can stick in left or if Calhoun will need to step in, the Rangers' outfield looks decent on paper. It at least gives them something to build around. However, everything else looks brutal. They've needed a third baseman since Adrian Beltre retired. While Kiner-Falefa is now a Gold Glove winner, he shouldn't be any team's two-hole hitter. Odor's extension looks worse and worse every year, Andrus is a shell of his former self, and Guzman is a platoon first baseman at best. At this point, the Rangers are a long-term project.
The best time to deal Lynn was at this past year's trade deadline. The second best time is right now. With one year left on his deal, he might not fetch a lot, but it's better than nothing. Gibson is a bit trickier because he's coming off a bad season and has two years on his contract. If the Rangers want, they can keep him until next year's deadline in hopes he bounces back over a longer campaign. It's much more important right now to find out whether Allard - who got beat up to the tune of a 7.75 ERA over 33 2/3 innings last year - can manage a major-league gig or not. If they sign some veterans to the bullpen as potential trade pieces this winter, that's gravy.