Off-Season in Review: AL West

USA TODAY Sports

As Opening Day draws near, we take a look back at the off-season, breaking down each team's biggest additions, losses and injury concerns, division by division. The AL West saw a number of big signings and trades as the Mariners, Angels and Rangers all take aim at the young division champs in Oakland.

The AL West is shaping up to be the best division in baseball, with an improved Mariners club, a powerhouse Angels lineup and the talent-rich Rangers all battling for the top spot. The hapless Astros enter the division this season as well and the timing could not be worse for them.

Houston Astros

Major Additions: Carlos Pena, Ronny Cedeno, Chris Carter, Brad Peacock, Alex White, Erik Bedard

Key Departures: Jed Lowrie, Fernando Rodriguez, Wilton Lopez

Significant Injuries: None

The Astros move from the NL Central to the AL West much as a lamb moves to the slaughterhouse. Houston GM Jeff Luhnow has gutted the major league team since taking over in December of 2011, but even sell-off every useful player you have isn’t enough to quickly build a competitor when you inherit a from a 106-loss team. Luhnow and company are building for a distant future and adding players like Carlos Pena and Ronny Cedeno to fill in the gaps as inexpensively as possible. The result is could be a team that loses games at a historic pace, but that is clearly of little concern to Luhnnow. He did well in trading away Jed Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez to add young talent in Carter and Peacock, and catching prospect Max Stassi and the team’s 2012 draft has gotten high marks from experts, but the 2013 team will be hard to watch.

Los Angeles Angels

Major Additions: Josh Hamilton, Joe Blanton, Tommy Hanson, Ryan Madson, Jason Vargas

Key Departures: Zack Greinke, Torii Hunter, Dan Haren, Maicer Izturis, Jordan Walden, Kendrys Morales

Significant Injuries: Ryan Madson

Prior to the 2012 season the Angels rocked the baseball world by signing C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols, but the team struggled early and finished third in the division. This off-season GM Jerry Dipoto once again landed one the game’s top free agents sluggers, signing Josh Hamilton away from the Rangers with a 5 year/$125M deal, but the team had to settle for less flashy options to replace Greinke and Haren in the rotation. They gave up a solid reliever to bring in Tommy Hanson from the Braves and signed the durable if unspectacular Joe Blanton to a 2 year/$15M. Their bullpen is still smarting from the loss of Walden with Ryan Madson recovery from Tommy John surgery keeping him off the mound, but the Angels offense should let them win even without a strong back of the rotation or a lock-down closer.

Oakland Athletics

Major Additions: Jed Lowrie, John Jaso, Hiroyuki Nakajima, Chris Young, Fernando Rodriguez

Key Departures: Jonny Gomes, Brandon McCarthy, Brandon Inge, Cliff Pennington, Kila Ka'aihue, Chris Carter

Significant Injuries: Hiroyuki Nakajima, Adam Rosales, Grant Balfour, Fernando Rodriguez

The Athletics added a few solid role players to their already talented young core which emerged out of nowhere to win the AL West on the final day of the regular season. The got center fielder Chris Young in trade a with the Diamondbacks. GM Billy Beane then made on of his signature three-team moves, inserting himself into the deal that brought Michael Morse to Seattle to land catcher John Jaso. Between these trades and free agency Oakland lost several important role players, but the team’s depth is impressive. Brandon Moss will take away some of the sting of losing Carter and Gomes. McCarthy threw just 111 innings before being hit by the line drive that cost him the final months of the season and nearly cost him his life. Oakland clearly believes that production can be made up the return of Brett Anderson and more innings from youngster A.J. Griffin and Travis Blackley.

Seattle Mariners

Major Additions: Raul Ibanez, Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse, Kelly Shoppach, Joe Saunders, JasonBay

Key Departures: Chone Figgins, Miguel Olivo, George Sherrill, Jason Vargas

Significant Injuries: None

The Mariners are finally moving on from the Ichiro era after trading the long time face of their franchise to the Yankees last season and priority number for GM Jack Zduriencik was adding pop to his offense, a group that has been last in the American League in runs scored for four straight seasons. He used some of the many strong prospects the team has built up during his tenure to acquire Michael Morse from the Nationals and Kendry Morales, two players with plus power who may represent a departure from the emphasis on defense that had previously characterized the club.He added Joe Saunders to the rotation, which should be strength in 2013. With a few heavy hitters to get runners in, Seattle turned their attention to locking up the new face of the franchise, giving ace Felix Hernandez a king’s ransom of seven years/$175M.

Texas Rangers

Major Additions: Lance Berkman, A.J. Pierzynski, Joakim Soria, Jason Frasor

Key Departures: Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Scott Feldman, Ryan Dempster, Mike Adams, Koji Uehara

Significant Injuries: Martin Perez, Neftali Feliz, Joakim Soria, Colby Lewis

It was a disappointing off-season in Arlington as the Rangers watched their top star Josh Hamilton leave for the rival Angels, missed out on free agents Zack Grienke and Adam LaRoche and failed in their attempts to acquire Justin Upton and and R.A. Dickey via trade. They can take comfort in having top positions prospect Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt, knocking on the door, but the team may have taken a step back after barely missing a third straight division title in 2012. Lance Berkman will help fill in the gap left by Hamilton and the Rangers still have a very talented core in Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre but this was probably not how they drew up the off-season. Losing talented young lefty Martin Perez in spring training and Nelson Cruz’s connection to the Biogenesis scandal certainly didn’t help matters.

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