As the Thanksgiving holiday has passed, the offseason is going to really begin to heat for the LA Angels and the rest of the MLB. Before it does, let’s take a look at how competitive the American League West is going to be in 2020.
For obvious reasons, we’ll start with the LA Angels. Despite finishing with a 72-90 record in 2019, the Halos are going to be a much improved team next season. Hiring Joe Maddon isn’t a move team makes without more plans to win.
The Angels will be a much more talented team in 2020, but what about the rest of the division?
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Let’s start with a team who won’t be much competition in 2020: the Seattle Mariners. They’re still in the early stages of a rebuild that the front office won’t fully commit to. They’ll still field a somewhat competitive team to keep them out of the Baltimore/Kansas City/Detroit tier of teams.
The Texas Rangers are similar to the Angels. They figure to be big players in free agency, and their 2020 fate is going to depend on how much top-tier talent they bring in. They shocked a lot of teams last season with an impressive first half, but lacked the stars to really contend for the playoffs. They’ve been linked to Anthony Rendon pretty consistently, and bringing in the NL MVP finalist would be a huge boost to their shaky offense.
The Oakland A’s are incredibly interesting. On paper, they should only improve as their top pitching prospects are finally set to have a full season in the big leagues. Their lineup is consistent throughout, and they have the best defense in the MLB.
However, there are reports already about Oakland looking to move talented players in order to shed salary. It’s a tough reality that Oakland has to deal with, but they’ll never have the payroll to bring in the best of the best free agents. Their 2020 season could honestly end with a 90+ win season again or somewhere in the 80 win range.
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Finally, the back-to-back-to-back AL West champions. The Houston Astros are going to make more headlines than any team this winter, but that’s because of the cheating scandal taking the MLB world by storm.
On paper, this is still the most talented team in the AL West, even if the Angels swipe Gerrit Cole from them. They can’t do too much in free agency to improve, as they’re pretty tight against the luxury tax and have their own players they’ll have to pay big money in the years to come.
As for 2020 though, unless the Angels sign Cole, Stephen Strasburg, and trade for Mookie Betts, they Houston Astros are the easy favorite to repeat a fourth time as champions. And honestly, even if the Halos made all of those moves, Houston still might be the favorite.