Welcome to theScore’s MLB offseason team needs, in which we’ll break down every club’s roster and its key free agents, along with how holes could be filled in free agency. Up next is the AL West.


Houston Astros

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2018 Record: 103-59 (1st)
Projected 2019 Payroll: $122.5M
Key free agents: Martin Maldonado, Brian McCann, Evan Gattis, Marwin Gonzalez, Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, Tony Sipp
Team needs: Catcher, starting pitcher, outfielder, designated hitter

Projected Lineup

Order Player Pos Age
1 George Springer CF 29
2 Alex Bregman 3B 24
3 Jose Altuve 2B 28
4 Carlos Correa SS 24
5 Yuli Gurriel 1B 34
6 Tyler White DH 28
7 Josh Reddick RF 31
8 Max Stassi C 27
9 Tony Kemp LF 27

Projected Rotation

1 Justin Verlander R 35
2 Gerrit Cole R 28
3 Josh James R 25
4 Brad Peacock R 30
5 Collin McHugh R 31

Losing Lance McCullers Jr. to surgery at the same time both Keuchel and Morton hit free agency helps crystallize the Astros’ most glaring need entering 2019: starting pitching. Plugging McHugh back into the rotation seems like a logical internal fix, and giving James an extended look also makes sense. Forrest Whitley could get a call, too, but that’s relying on a lot of unproven talent for a team that eyes a World Series title. Any investment it makes to improve the rotation probably won’t be short term, as both Verlander and Cole will be free agents after next season. What can’t get lost is the need for extra pop with Gonzalez, McCann, and Gattis all hitting the open market. The Astros have opted for a veteran DH before with Carlos Beltran, and a similar signing could be in the cards.

Los Angeles Angels

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2018 Record: 80-82 (4th)
Projected 2019 Payroll: $144.7M
Key free agents: Chris Young, Eric Young, Garrett Richards, Jim Johnson, Junichi Tazawa, Blake Wood
Team needs: Starting pitcher, catcher, second baseman, closer

Projected Lineup

Order Player Pos Age
1 Kole Calhoun RF 31
2 Mike Trout CF 27
3 Justin Upton LF 31
4 Shohei Ohtani DH 24
5 Andrelton Simmons SS 29
6 Albert Pujols 1B 38
7 Zack Cozart 3B 33
8 Kevan Smith C 30
9 David Fletcher 2B 24

Projected Rotation

1 Andrew Heaney L 27
2 Matt Shoemaker R 32
3 Tyler Skaggs L 27
4 Jaime Barria R 22
5 Felix Pena R 28

The biggest goal – as is constantly the case with the Angels – is to find a way not to squander Trout’s prime. Losing the pitching half of Ohtani is painful and only serves to further underline how meager the pitching staff is as a whole. The Angels have never shied away from spending big (see: Pujols), and this offseason may be no different. The farm system is improving, but not to the point that the Angels can likely offer enough to get a top name via trade. Anticipate major activity on the open market.

Oakland Athletics

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2018 Record: 97-65 (2nd)
Projected 2019 Payroll: $77.7M
Key free agents: Jonathan Lucroy, Jed Lowrie, Matt Joyce, Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Edwin Jackson, Jeurys Familia, Shawn Kelley
Team needs: Starting pitcher, catcher, outfielder

Projected Lineup

Order Player Pos Age
1 Nick Martini LF 28
2 Marcus Semien SS 28
3 Matt Chapman 3B 25
4 Khris Davis DH 30
5 Matt Olson 1B 24
6 Stephen Piscotty RF 27
7 Ramon Laureano CF 24
8 Franklin Barreto 2B 22
9 Josh Phegley C 30

Projected Rotation

1 Mike Fiers R 33
2 Daniel Mengden R 25
3 Frankie Montas R 25
4 Chris Bassitt R 29
5 Andrew Triggs R 29

A season after surprising everyone, the Athletics suddenly have expectations. If tradition holds, they won’t aim to spend big in free agency to fill the void in the rotation, even with Sean Manaea poised to miss the season. Left-handed prospect Jesus Luzardo could rise through the ranks, and Jharel Cotton could regain his status as a starter, too. A.J. Puk was on the verge of breaking through before he lost 2018 to Tommy John. If he makes it to the bigs this season, it won’t be until later on. Otherwise, the A’s will probably aim to find affordable alternatives to the big names. The payroll is expected to increase, but it’s not clear by how much, especially since it’s projected to jump simply by the team going through the arbitration process.

Seattle Mariners

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2018 Record: 89-73 (3rd)
Projected 2019 Payroll: $147.4M
Key free agents: Gordon Beckham, Andrew Romine, Nelson Cruz, Cameron Maybin, Denard Span, Zach Duke, David Phelps, Adam Warren
Team needs: Outfielder, starting pitcher, designated hitter, catcher

Projected Lineup

Order Player Pos Age
1 Mallex Smith CF 25
2 Jean Segura SS 28
3 Robinson Cano 1B 36
4 Mitch Haniger RF 27
5 Kyle Seager 3B 31
6 Daniel Vogelbach DH 25
7 Ben Gamel LF 26
8 David Freitas C 29
9 Dee Gordon 2B 30

Projected Rotation

1 James Paxton L 30
2 Mike Leake R 31
3 Marco Gonzales L 26
4 Felix Hernandez R 32
5 Wade LeBlanc L 34

The offseason has already been busy in Seattle with the re-acquisition of Smith for catcher Mike Zunino. This created an immediate need for a new backstop. The outfield logjam appears fixed by shifting Cano to first base and allowing Gordon to become the permanent second baseman. The team is also teetering on the edge of a restructuring – if not a rebuild – and that could begin with a trade of ace southpaw Paxton, despite starting pitching being the biggest need.

Texas Rangers

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2018 Record: 67-95 (5th)
Projected 2019 Payroll: $94.7M
Key free agents: Robinson Chirinos, Adrian Beltre, Bartolo Colon, Doug Fister, Yovani Gallardo, Matt Moore, Martin Perez, Tony Barnette
Team needs: Starting pitcher, outfielder, relief pitcher

Projected Lineup

Order Player Pos Age
1 Shin-Soo Choo LF 36
2 Rougned Odor 2B 24
3 Elvis Andrus SS 30
4 Nomar Mazara RF 23
5 Joey Gallo CF 25
6 Jurickson Profar 3B 25
7 Ronald Guzman 1B 24
8 Willie Calhoun DH 24
9 Jeff Mathis C 35

Projected Rotation

1 Mike Minor L 30
2 Drew Smyly L 29
3 Adrian Sampson R 27
4 Yohander Mendez L 23
5 Ariel Jurado R 22

It’d be foolish to expect the Rangers to drastically address all of their holes in one offseason. The offensive core is decent even if Beltre retires or signs elsewhere, and Jose Leclerc is a legitimate top arm to anchor the bullpen. But the starting rotation is in shambles. Texas has one pitcher in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects, but 18-year-old Cole Winn isn’t expected to be major-league ready until 2021. With next year looking like a transition season, the ideal scenario would involve trading Choo to get his contract off the books, but it might be tough to find a buyer.