A.L. West Happenings
A couple of weeks ago, when the Angels signed Josh Hamilton to a five year contract, I talked about how the balance of power could be shifting within the division. Several minor moves were made prior to the Hamilton signing and players are continuing to relocate on a daily basis. Here’s a recap of what’s happened so far among A.L. West teams.
Los Angeles Angels
Josh Hamilton (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)
Prior to picking up Hamilton, the Angels were busy retooling their starting rotation. Dan Haren and Zack Greinke had departed via Free Agency, leaving a void for General Manager Jerry Dipoto to try and fill. Dipoto sent another starter, Ervin Santana, to the Royals. Then he acquired Tommy Hanson from Atlanta and signed Free Agent Joe Blanton. That left one rotation spot waiting to be filled.
Last week the Angels filled that rotation spot by acquiring Jason Vargas from the Seattle Mariners. In exchange, the Angels sent Kendrys Morales to their division rivals. Morales was expendable and Vargas could be a solid pickup.
Sure Hamilton was the biggest name on the market this winter but the Angels have lost some valuable pieces as well. Greinke was the most sought-after pitcher out there and the rotation may not be as strong as it was last season. Outfielder Torii Hunter was allowed to walk after putting together another solid season. Utility man Maicer Izturis is also gone.
Last month the Angels signed Ryan Madson to be their closer. A few days later reliever Jordan Walden was sent to Atlanta in the Hanson deal. Madson is coming off Tommy John surgery and is a pretty big question mark. Lefty Sean Burnett was also signed for bullpen depth.
I was quick to anoint the Angels as division favorites after the Hamilton deal, but a look at all of the transactions leaves some questions wanting to be answered. We’ll have to wait and see what else they do to put a shiny finish on the team.
Last year’s division champs got it done on a shoestring budget. Billy Beane will be attempting to do more of the same in 2013. So far the A’s have done a lot more subtracting and very little adding. Outfielder Chris Young was acquired from Arizona in exchange for Cliff Pennington and minor leaguer Yordy Cabrera. Young gives the A’s a somewhat crowded outfield that could become less crowded if someone else gets traded.
Hiroyuki Nakajima is the only other significant pickup the A’s have made. Oakland recently signed the Japanese import to be their everyday shortstop. RHP Chris Resop and lefty Andrew Werner are a couple of low-profile additions Beane has made.
Colin Cowgill was traded to the Mets last week for AA infielder Jefry Marte. Free Agents who departed Oakland include Brandon McCarthy, Jonny Gomes, and Stephen Drew.
In addition to Kendrys Morales the Mariners have added outfielders Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez. Bay is huge question mark and Ibanez begins his third stint with Seattle at the age of 40.
With the exception of Jason Vargas the Mariners haven’t had to depart with much. But they will stay aggressive in the market in an attempt to bolster their offense. Seattle made an attempt to land Hamilton but came up short. Michael Bourn could be next on their shopping list. Trading for Justin Upton is another possibility, considering the Mariners rich farm system.
Nolan Ryan ( Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)
Josh Hamilton isn’t the only player the Rangers have lost to Free Agency this winter. That list includes relievers Mike Adams and Koji Uehara as well as starting pitchers Ryan Dempster and Scott Feldman and catcher Mike Napoli. Rangers legend Michael Young was traded to Philadelphia for Josh Lindblom and a minor leaguer.
The Rangers’ farm system is still strong but a couple of nice players got away this winter. Texas League Pitcher of the Year Barret Loux was inexplicably traded to the Cubs for Jacob Brigham. Arizona Fall League MVP Chris McGuiness was nabbed by Cleveland in the Rule 5 Draft.
The biggest acquisition for the Rangers this offseason has been Free Agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Texas also re-signed Geovany Soto to back him up. The team’s most recent pickup is LHP Jeff Beliveau, who was claimed off waivers from the Cubs last Friday.
The Rangers also added a late inning reliever coming off Tommy John surgery. Joaquim Soria was signed to a two-year deal. Expect the Rangers to stay active for the remainder of the offseason. Money is no object for Nolan Ryan and company.