The MLB offseason was full of big trades, signings and extensions. Now Spring Training is in full swing. This is the fifth of six editions of predictions for each division for this baseball season.
Texas: The Rangers took a huge hit losing starter Colby Lewis, first baseman Mitch Moreland, outfielder/designated hitter Carlos Beltran and outfielder Ian Desmond to free agency. Despite this, the Rangers did sign first baseman Mike Napoli for his third stint with the team and resigned outfielder Carlos Gomez. The Rangers added pitching depth with starters Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner, but both are expected to miss a month of the season because of injuries. The Rangers won the division in 2016, but if they’re not healthy, they won’t be able to defend it.
Seattle: The Mariners are a favorite to surprise everyone with a postseason berth, their first since 2001. They acquired a bunch of reliable players, such as shortstop Jean Segura and utility man Danny Valencia, who will play first base. The middle of the lineup features second baseman Robinson Cano, designated hitter Nelson Cruz and third baseman Kyle Seager (a threat to every team), and these three can combine for 90 home runs. The only question is the pitching staff. Starter “King” Felix Hernandez is the face of the franchise but is dwindling in production. The most consistent starter is James Paxton. Paxton had a 3.79 ERA but he was amazing the second half, as he campaigned to stay in the rotation for good. Starters Drew Smyly and Yovani Gallardo are new additions, but there’s many questions surrounding Gallardo’s age and Smyly’s career ERA. Superstar closer Edwin Diaz was amazing last year, blowing just one save in 19 opportunities, and amazed the competition in the World Baseball Classic. Expect him to be a key star in the Mariners’ season run.
Houston: The Astros had some good pieces last year but they never came together. This year could be different. Beltran is back in an Astros uniform, and outfielder Josh Reddick is expected to be in the lineup. Catcher Brian McCann was traded in November, and, with postseason experience, could be a huge piece in the lineup, with a definite offensive presence. The only add to the pitching staff is starter Charlie Morton, who’s an under the radar starter with a K/9 of over 7 in 71.0 innings last year before his season ended with an injury.
Los Angeles: The Angels apparently like the Nationals, as they traded for second baseman Danny Espinosa and signed outfielder Ben Revere and pitcher Yusmeiro Petit. The Angels signed a bunch of aging veterans like outfielder Cameron Maybin and the aforementioned Espinosa, Petit and Revere, along with infielder Luis Valbuena. MVP outfielder Mike Trout will obviously be an MVP contender, but many experts question if he’ll be traded or not. The Dodgers, Yankees and Nationals would be contenders for his signature, but it may just be a fantasy.
Oakland: Let’s just say it. The A’s are terrible. They have no rotation, they have no lineup and they have no bullpen. Starter Sonny Gray was awful last year with an ERA over five, but is still considered a star and a trade candidate. The only stud they have is first baseman Ryan Healey. Healey was surprised everyone by being named AL Rookie of the Month twice last year, in August and September, and will be a definite star if he can stay healthy. Don’t sleep on outfielder Khris Davis. He hit 42 homers last year.