How does Mariners trade affect their standing in AL West compared to the Astros?

Seattle is certainly trying to push into contention with their latest move. Was it enough to threaten the Astros?
Division Series - Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins - Game Three
Division Series - Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins - Game Three / Brace Hemmelgarn/GettyImages

While things have been pretty quiet with the Houston Astros ever since they signed Josh Hader, it feels like things are starting to move a bit more around the AL West. The Rangers beefed up their bullpen when they signed David Robertson to a one-year deal with an option, plus there is the looming threat that they could re-sign Jordan Montgomery.

However, it is the move that Mariners made on Monday evening that could potentially shake up the AL West race the most.

The Mariners can certainly pitch, but they needed to add some offense before the 2024 season. Signing Mitch Garver was a decent enough start, but having Luis Urias slated to be their starting third baseman probably wasn't going to be good enough. Seattle was predicted to be in on Matt Chapman this offseason, but the Mariners payroll/TV revenue situation has kept them from playing in the deep end of the free agent pool.

That is why it is so consequential that the Mariners swung a trade with the Twins for Jorge Polanco, as it now raises some interesting questions about how this season is going to go in the division in 2024.

Seattle just improved with Jorge Polanco trade, but the Astros are probably better for now

It is a given that the Texas Rangers were already going to be an issue for Houston in 2024. Their roster is loaded with stars and emerging young talent that just captured the World Series and boosted the confidence of the collective. Plus, they could wake up at any point and make more additions. However, the Mariners' case as being a true threat in the division is a bit more complicated.

Seattle certainly looks strong on the pitching side, assuming that their young pitchers don't regress in 2024, and Polanco is almost certainly going to be an upgrade over the Luis Urias plan at third. However, Polanco has dealt with injuries each of the last two seasons, and is more of a very solid complementary roster piece on a good team instead of a guy that is going to move the needle by himself, even if he is healthy. He is also 30 years old, so one can probably expect that he is past his prime, and the Mariners had to dip into their bullpen depth to acquire him.

All of this leaves one feeling that the Mariners are probably still below Houston in the AL West pecking order. As fun as it is to complain about the Astros not making enough moves, the truth is that one of the biggest reasons why they haven't been super active is because they have a really solid all-around roster where it is hard to make actual upgrades. That said, the AL West just got even tighter with just a couple weeks before spring training, and it definitely looks like the days when Houston would win the division by huge margins have come to an end.

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