AL West Notes: Astros, Rangers, A’s

The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan takes a look at the Astros’ depth chart for the upcoming season, highlighting a few minor areas the club could look to pursue depth. With top prospect Jeremy Pena currently atop the depth chart at shortstop and Aledmys Diaz slated to back up at all four infield positions, Kaplan suggests an additional shortstop candidate — ideally one with a minor league option remaining — would be a prudent addition. Obviously, the whole situation would change in the event that the ’Stros re-sign Carlos Correa or pivot by inking fellow free agent Trevor Story. There aren’t too many free-agent options available in that bucket, but that’s the sort of player who can be found in a smaller-scale trade or on the waiver wire as teams make cuts amid the forthcoming flurry of transactions.

Kaplan also raises the “wild card” possibility of the Astros adding another corner outfielder (thus moving Kyle Tucker to center field) and suggests that if there’s one area from which the Astros are likely to trade in order to address other deficiencies, it’d be from their enviable starting pitching depth. (MLBTR listed veteran righty Jake Odorizzi among our likeliest trade candidates last week.) It’s a solid, broad-reaching look at where the Houston roster stands and how the team might attack some depth needs post-lockout, and ’Stros fans in particular will want to take a full read-through.

Here’s a few more notes from the division…

  • While the Rangers are likely to give Adolis Garcia the starting nod in center field again in 2022, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News suggests that there’s enough uncertainty that the club could pursue additional depth in the outfield. Seiya Suzuki has been connected to Texas, of course, but even absent a big splash like Suzuki or Michael Conforto, smaller-scale outfield additions seem plausible. Specifically, someone capable of playing center and also handling left field would be of intrigue, Grant notes. Garcia got out to a blistering start but cratered with a .219/.266/.386 slash from July 1 onward (334 plate appearances). Meanwhile, backup option Eli White is recovering from elbow surgery, while top prospect Leodys Taveras has yet to hit in the big leagues. Over in left field, Willie Calhoun has not yet proven himself capable of consistently hitting MLB pitching or remaining healthy. Speculatively, names like Kevin Pillar, Jake Marisnick and Jarrod Dyson could all fit the billing described by Grant, though there’s little reason to discount the possibility of Texas making a bigger splash, given their pre-lockout levels of aggression.
  • In running through some of the minor league free agents already brought aboard by the Athletics this winter, Melissa Lockard of The Athletic suggests that the A’s probably aren’t done adding catching help. Twenty-eight-year-old Austin Allen received only eight plate appearances despite a robust .317/.351/.584 slash in 299 trips to the plate at the Triple-A level. The A’s instead gave 94 plate appearances to light-hitting Aramis Garcia and acquired veteran Yan Gomes at the trade deadline as a second catcher to pair with young backstop Sean Murphy. Neither Garcia nor Gomes is with the organization anymore, and the top option in Triple-A at the moment is journeyman Christian Bethancourt. Catching depth, then, indeed figures to be an area of focus for the A’s — be it via minor league free agency, the waiver wire or perhaps as part of the return in some of the trades they’re widely expected to execute when transactions resume.

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