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Astros: Reevaluating AL West race after trade deadline

James Click talks with manager Dusty Baker #12 of the Houston Astros during batting practice before a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Minute Maid Park on July 29, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
James Click talks with manager Dusty Baker #12 of the Houston Astros during batting practice before a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Minute Maid Park on July 29, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Here’s a look at the Houston Astros competition in the AL West following the trade deadline.

It was an active trade deadline for a number of teams, but the Houston Astros weren’t one of them. While GM James Click had dialogue on a number of possible deals, he ultimately elected to stand pat. “We weren’t going to make a move just to make a move,” Click said.

The other four teams in the AL West, however, did not stand pat. The first-place Oakland A’s made a couple of additions while the bottom-dwelling Rangers, Angels and Mariners all sold assets. If there’s anything to be taken from this, it’s that the gap between the haves and the have-nots in the AL West in 2020 grew even larger.

The Deals

Oakland pulled off a pair of intra-division trades, first acquiring infielder Tommy LaStella from the Angels in exchange for infielder Franklin Barreto. Then the A’s acquired lefthander Mike Minor from the Rangers, who’ll slot into a rotation that has had its struggles this year.

Speaking of the Rangers, they dealt away the likes of Minor, third baseman Todd Frazier and former Astros catcher Robinson Chirinos, with both Frazier and Chirinos headed to the Mets. There were rumblings that the team would go into a full rebuild and trade players like Lance Lynn, Joey Gallo and Rougned Odor, but none of those deals came to fruition.

The Angels, in addition to jettisoning La Stella, also sent catcher Jason Castro to the wheeling and dealing Padres and outfielder Brian Goodwin to the Reds. There were rumors surrounding guys like Andrelton Simmons and Dylan Bundy, but the Halos elected not to tear the whole thing down.

The Mariners were the most active, of course, as they sent Daniel Vogelbach and Taijuan Walker to the Blue Jays, while Austin Nola, Austin Adams, Dan Altavilla and Taylor Williams all went to San Diego. They got a bunch of young talent back in return, most of which came back in the big deal with the Padres.

Division Outlook

The A’s are going to remain the favorite to win the West, as their two deals should help them a bit. La Stella hit .273/.371/.475 with the Halos prior to the trade and figures to play mostly second base, which was an area of need for Oakland. Minor has struggled this year, but he tossed six scoreless innings in his final start as a Ranger, so we’ll see if that carries over to his new team.

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The Astros stood pat for a variety of reasons, one of which being they lack depth in their farm system from which to pull off noteworthy trades. But they also have reinforcements coming back this month in Alex Bregman, Chris Devenski and possibly Brad Peacock, Josh James, and maybe even Justin Verlander. Until then, they’re letting the kids play, which isn’t a bad idea.

The remaining three teams will likely continue to remain fighting just to stay out of the cellar — or fighting for the cellar? The Rangers have traded one of their key starting pitchers and a couple of veterans in their lineup, the Angels have traded three frequent contributors on offense, and the Mariners have pretty much traded everything that isn’t nailed down.

So the AL West is now a two-team race even more than it was a few days ago. This bodes well for the Astros, as they really just need to focus on being healthy for the postseason and having their pitching staff ironed out. They’re all but guaranteed a playoff spot at this point.

It also helps that of their remaining 27 games, only five are against the A’s, while 17 are against the Rangers, Angels and Mariners. They also have three against the last-place Diamondbacks, who were sellers themselves at the deadline. The Astros will have the opportunity to play a lot of games against some bad teams down the stretch, so all they have to do is get geared up for the postseason.

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