This is the fifth installment of the 2021 MLB Offseason Recap. I will be going over each team’s additions and subtractions during the winter and determine if they’ve improved, declined, or stayed the same in terms of talent and competitiveness. At the time of writing this (Feb 15th), there are still some notable free agents that haven’t found a team yet (Jackie Bradley Jr, Kevin Pillar, Trevor Rosenthal, Brett Gardner, etc.) so stick with me if this becomes immediately outdated. Enough wasting time, let’s dive in.
For a team that has “won” a World Series recently and has continuously gone deep into the playoffs the last few years, they haven’t made any significant improvements. They have also lost a lot of what made them the powerhouse that they were. Josh Reddick, Brad Peacock, and George Springer all became free agents. Houston also cut ties with Roberto Osuna after he elected to not have Tommy John surgery even though he apparently needs it. On the other hand, there were a few notable additions as well. Steve Cishek and Steven Souza Jr. signed minor league deals and Jason Castro, Pedro Baez, and Ryne Stanek signed major league deals. I believe the window for the Astros is closing fast if it’s not already closed. Verlander might not pitch this year and Altuve is another year older. They still have some great talent though and should not be slept on just because their offseason was relatively quiet. They still have Correa, Bregman, Alvarez, and Brantley in the lineup with McCullers, Grienke, Javier, and Pressly on the pitching staff.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Will we see another year of baseball without Mike Trout in playoffs? Judging by the Angels’ offseason moves, probably. Hansel Robles, Kenyan Middelton, and Matt Andriese were non-tendered, Cam Bedrosian was outrighted to the minors but elected free-agency, and Julio Teheran and Andrelton Simmons became free agents. None of those losses are highly significant except for the defensive stud, Simmons. The Angels signed a lot of minor league contracts this winter, 12 to be exact, with the notables being Jon Jay and Juan Lagares. The major league signings are Jose Quintana, Kurt Suzuki, and Alex Claudio. It doesn’t stop there as the Angels also made some trades this offseason. They have acquired Dexter Fowler from the Cardinals, Raisel Iglesias from the Reds, and Alex Cobb and Jose Iglesias from the Orioles. For years, the main ask from Angels fans has been pitching. For some, probably dumb reason, the organization just can’t figure it out. Heaney, Bundy, Quintana, Canning, Cobb, and maybe Ohtani (if his fragile little elbow can hold up) is not a winning rotation and the bullpen is even worse. I firmly believe we, as baseball fans, will never see prime Mike Trout make a deep playoff run and that sucks.
Verdict: Stayed the same
Will this be another year where some stud comes out of the pile of dogshit that is Oakland Athletics organization? I wouldn’t be surprised but I also can’t tell you who that could possibly be. The A’s signed 12 minor league contracts and only one major league contract. Sergio Romo was the major league signing and the only names I recognize from all of the minor league deals are Francisco Pena, Domingo Acevedo, and Jed Lowrie. Also, the A’s traded away Khris Davis for Elvis Andrus so that’s cool, I guess…? There were a handful of good players lost to free agency this year: Jake Lamb, Tommy La Stella, Robbie Grossman, Joakim Soria, Liam Hendricks, Mike Minor, and Marcus Semien. I don’t expect the A’s to win the AL West but they still have their core talent of guys to rely on. (Chapman, Bassitt, Olson, Montas, Laureano, etc.)
As I go over all of these AL West teams, I’m starting to see a trend. The Mariner’s have signed 15 minor league contracts this offseason. This time around, none of the minor-league signings stand out to me. Other additions to the team include Keynan Middelton and James Paxton on 1-year deals and Ken Giles on a 2-year deal. Ken Giles, however, will not pitch in 2021 as he is still recovering from TJ surgery. The only notable losses for Seattle are Carl Edwards Jr. (selected free agency) and Dee Strange-Gordon (club option declined) so overall the team got better. With that said, the Mariners still have a long away to go before they are truly completive in the AL West. They have the reigning AL RoY Kyle Lewis and prospects Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez looking to put Seattle back on the map hopefully within the next few years.
The trend continues. The Rangers also signed 15 minor league contracts and only 4 major league contracts. The only notables from all of the minor league deals are Brock Holt and Delino DeShields. Mike Foltynewicz and David Dahl each got 1-year major league deals. The Rangers were relatively busy on the trade market, too, by acquiring 10 players via trade (while losing 8). They acquired Khris Davis from the A’s (as mentioned above) and Nate Lowe from the Rays. The Rangers parted ways with Danny Santana, Andrew Romine, Derek Dietrich, Shin-Soo Cho, Jesse Chavez, Edinson Volquez, and Corey Kluber via free agency. Along with trading away Elvis Andrus to the A’s, Texas also traded away Lance Lynn to the White Sox after somewhat reviving his career and joining a couple of Cy Young conversations. It’s obvious that the Rangers are not going to be competitive at all this year. Their pitching is nonexistent and their lineup is full of guys with “what if” potential. They are definitely going to get a top draft pick in 2022 and possibly in 2023 if they can’t get any help from the farm system soon.
After writing these offseason recaps, I’m not gonna lie, I feel a little depressed. So many teams are just really bad right now. I understand that someone has be the worst team but if all it takes is a quick. up and down glance at the roster to say “there’s no way this team can compete”, that makes me sad. Sad for baseball as a sport. Sad for me as fan. Sad for the players on those bad teams that are just trying their best. For example, the Astros made hardly any moves this offseason and lost one of the biggest pieces of their core and I still fully expect them to win the AL West. They are that far ahead of the competition. How did the other owners/general managers allow that to happen? Hopefully, there’s a course correction soon.