So far, the 2021 offseason has been full of transaction moves. As we know, the Mariners added Adam Frazier and Robbie Ray so far this offseason. While these additions are great, other teams in the AL West have been making moves. In addition, most of the teams in the AL West have addressed their own needs, potentially creating a logjam at the top of the AL West for the 2022 season. Let’s look at each team’s moves as well as how they may finish in 2022:
Seattle Mariners – 2021 Record – 90-72
Additions: Robbie Ray (SP), Adam Frazier (2B)
Subtractions: James Paxton (SP), Kyle Seager (3B)
Undecided: Yusei Kikuchi (SP), Tyler Anderson (SP), Sean Doolittle (RP), Jose Marmolejos (LF)
Overall: As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, the addition of Ray and Frazier bring the Mariners to a new level. Kyle Seager recently announced his retirement, which may create a hole at third base, while losing James Paxton isn’t the end of the world. The existing talent of J.P. Crawford, Jarred Kelenic, and prospect Julio Rodriguez will create a better offense than last year, bolstering the up-and-coming bullpen that the Mariners already feature.
Houston Astros – 2021 Record – 95-67
Additions: Justin Verlander (kind of) (SP), Hector Neris (RP)
Subtractions: Kendall Graveman (CP), Yimi Garcia (RP), Brooks Raley (RP)
Undecided: Carlos Correa (SS), Zach Greinke (SP)
Overall: Verlander didn’t play last year, which is why I included him under the additions after he resigned for two more years. Losing Graveman and Garcia is a big hit, but that bullpen this postseason, bolstered by Cristian Javier, showed that they might be able to take the impact there. Correa and Greinke seem to have both feet out the door. Correa is regarded as a top-three shortstop and would surely be a massive loss to the Astros. Grienke is at the end of his career, and Framber Valdez stepped up last year to take his place.
Oakland Athletics – 2021 Record – 86-76
Additions: Brent Honeywell (RP)
Subtractions: Starling Marte (CF), Mark Canha (LF), Yan Gomes (C)
Undecided: Trevor Rosenthal (RP), Jake Diekman (RP), Michael Fiers (SP), Andrew Chafin (RP), Yusmeiro Petit (RP), Sergio Romo (RP), Mitch Moreland (1B), Jed Lowrie (2B), Josh Harrison (IF), Khris Davis (DH).
Overall: The Athletics seem to be trending towards a rebuild losing Starling Marte and Mark Canha to the Mets, all while their corner infielders Matt Chapman and Matt Olson’s names are swirling the hot stove of the trade market. Given the Athletics have a history of making lesser-known players productive, it’s always possible they overperform.
Los Angeles Angels – 2021 Record – 77-85
Additions: Noah Syndergaard (SP), Aaron Loup (SP), Michael Lorenzen (SP), Tyler Wade (2B)
Subtractions: Alex Cobb (SP), Dylan Bundy (SP)
Undecided: Dexter Fowler (OF), Kurt Suzuki (C), Juan Lagares (OF), Jon Jay (OF), Steve Cishek (RP)
Overall: The Angels focused on adding starting pitching so far this offseason, something they’ve desperately needed in what seems like forever. If Syndergaard is even 80% of what he was, that will be a solid front-end starter in the rotation. Aaron Loup had a successful 2021 season and will surprise Angels fans next year. Selfishly, I’m hoping the Angels allow Lorenzen to be like Ohtani in that he will start and DH. Losing Cobb and Bundy but replacing them with the pitchers above make up for the departures and then some.
Texas Rangers – 2021 Record – 60-102
Additions: Corey Seager (SS), Marcus Semien (2B), Jon Gray (SP), Kole Calhoun (LF)
Subtractions: Jordan Lyles (SP)
Undecided: Mike Foltynewicz (SP), Brock Holt (OF/IF), Charlie Culberson (2B), Ronald Guzman (1B)
Overall: Everyone was surprised that the Rangers went as hard as they have with the signings of Seager and Semien. Adding Jon Gray was also a solid move. The Rangers, much like the Mariners, have some excellent prospects coming up, like catcher Sam Huff, who is known for hitting 500-foot bombs. This Rangers team still needs to address the starting pitching problem, but for now, they may have the best offense in the division.
After looking at all of the transactions so far, there are still a lot of moves for each team to make. Regardless, let’s look at how I believe the 2022 season will shake out:
1st Place: Houston Astros
Why?: Even though the Astros seem to be losing Correa, they still have big thumpers in Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, Yuli Gurriel, Jose Altuve, and Alex Bregman on the offensive side. Pitching-wise, bright spots of Cristian Javier and Framber Valdez will keep runs off the board.
2nd Place: Los Angeles Angels
Why?: Having two MVPs on the roster doesn’t hurt. All baseball fans hope that Mike Trout will be back from injury to his full form to join his new MVP teammate and best pitcher on the team Shohei Ohtani. The Angels seemed to address the starting pitching issue but still have a couple of holes offensively.
3rd Place: Seattle Mariners
Why?: This was tough to put our Mariners here because I can genuinely see them finishing between second and fourth, all depending on the health of Mike Trout in the Angels and the new offensive juggernaut that are the Texas Rangers. Grabbing the best strikeout pitcher in Robbie Ray and the ultra contact and utility infielder in Adam Frazier addressed their two biggest needs. Hopefully, we’ll see Julio Rodriguez as well because that will fully activate this Mariners offense.
4th Place: Texas Rangers
Why?: The Rangers are the biggest question mark possibly in the league with their two superstar additions of Marcus Semien and Corey Seager. Offensively, those two, including Adolis Garcia, Nate Lowe, Nick Solak, and possibly Sam Huff at some point, will lead to some 10-run games this year. The pitching side, though, it’s rough. Other than Jon Gray, this team is very young. They’ll be relying on the likes of Dane Dunning, Spencer Howard, and Taylor Hearn to prevent runs.
5th Place: Oakland Athletics
Why?: The Athletics front office may have recognized the logjam that is this division, coupled with losing out on Starling Marte, and may have decided to retake a back seat. Minus Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, and pitchers AJ Puk, Sean Manea, and James Kaprielian, the roster leaves less to be desired. Prospects Tyler Soderstrom and baseball card hobby enthusiasts’ favorite Robert Pauson are a ways off still.
I do see a path for the Mariners to be right back where they were this past year, competing for the top seed in the division. The Mariners would have been in the play-in game if it weren’t for the crazy AL East taking the two Wild Card spots. As long as they can keep away from the injury bug and win those close games, we should be seeing the Mariners fighting for a playoff spot next year. Here’s to a fun 2022 season in Emerald City.