The American League West has been one of the tougher divisions in past years, but that isn’t the case in 2021. So, the Los Angeles Angels have a great opportunity to make the postseason for the first time since 2014.
They are just one key signing away from being the favorites to win the AL West, and that player is Trevor Bauer.
The American League West right now
The American League West is in an interesting situation. The Houston Astros pretty much have the same team as last year, minus George Springer. They were able to re-sign Michael Brantley but Springer signed a big deal with the Blue Jays.
Springer was a huge part of the Astros lineup and will be a major hole for the 2017 World Series champions. The Astros will also be without Justin Verlander for most of the season or the entire season. The team won’t be the same powerhouse as we normally expect, so who will be the kings of the AL West?
Can the Oakland Athletics become the favorites? My gut reaction is to say no, but they always seem to find a way to win. But the Athletics are also without a couple of key players. The 2020 AL Reliever of the Year, Liam Hendriks, signed with the Chicago White Sox. Marcus Semien is also a free agent, and it seems unlikely that the Athletics will re-sign the shortstop.
So, the Athletics are looking a little vulnerable as well. But like I said, they always seem to figure it out in the end.
The Seattle Mariners shouldn’t be much of a threat to the top of the AL West. They showed glimpses of excellence last year, but they are still extremely young and just starting to come out of its rebuild. They are led by 2020 AL Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis, but he isn’t Mike Trout. The Mariners do have some big prospects on their way, but I am not sure how much of an impact they can make in 2021.
Lastly, the Texas Rangers are in the midst of rebuilding so they are my candidate to finish last in the AL West. They shipped off Lance Lynn to the White Sox and received former prospect, Dane Dunning. The Rangers also signed Kohei Arihara, one of the Japanese players who was posted, but he will be more of a middle of the rotation pitcher, not an ace like yu Darvish.
The Los Angeles Angels team
The Angels have the best player in the MLB, but LA has taught us that it is not nearly enough. Mike Trout has only played in one postseason, and the Angels are desperate to get him some support.
They have tried several times to bring in players to compliment Trout, but it just hasn’t worked. They brought in Josh Hamilton in 2012 for a 5-year $125 million deal. The Angels traded for Justin Upton in 2017 and signed the Japanese “Babe Ruth,” Shohei Ohtani.
But, the Angels hired a new GM, Perry Minasian, and he has been busy this offseason bringing in low-medium profile players. Let’s start with the offense.
The Angels added veteran Kurt Suzuki to the catching mix. Max Stassi had a solid season last year, but Suzuki adds depth, experience, and a decent bat as a catcher.
Perry Minasian lost Andrelton Simmons to free agency but was able to replace him with Jose Iglesias, the glove maestro. Iglesias had a great offensive season last year with the Orioles but dealt with multiple nagging injuries. If Iglesias can repeat his 2020, he could be a key player.
Los Angeles was also able to bolster its bullpen by trading for Raisel Iglesias from the Reds and signing left-hander Alex Claudio.
The most recent addition has been veteran starting pitcher Jose Quintana, which gives the Angels a rotation that looks like this: Dylan Bundy, Andrew Heaney, Jose Quintana, Griffin Canning, and Shohei Ohtani.
And of course, the Angels still have Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, David Fletcher, Albert Pujols, Justin Upton, and former top prospect Jo Adell.
Altogether, the Angels already have a solid team that can compete in the AL West, it isn’t enough for them to be favorites. That’s where Trevor Bauer comes into play.
Trevor Bauer would solidify the Los Angeles Angels rotation
No one really knows where Trevor Bauer will go. Some fan bases think they have him in their grasps, but I think it truly is a mystery. At the beginning of the offseason, Bauer said he’s open to practically any team.
Now, it seems more likely that he wants to join a team that has a chance to get to the World Series, and is willing to pay him. The Dodgers and Angels were spoken of a lot early on because Bauer grew up and attended college in Los Angeles. But, the Mets and Blue Jays’ names have come up more often as of late.
Regardless, the Angels could really use the 2020 NL Cy Young winner. The Angels have a decent rotation, but they don’t have a star like Bauer to lead it.
Dylan Bundy had a great 2020, where he posted a 3.29 ERA and 2.95 FIP. Andrew Heaney struggled again, but I think his best days are ahead of him. He posted a 4.46 ERA and 3.79 FIP.
The young Griffin Canning was a nice surprise for the Angels and posted a 3.99 ERA, but his FIP was up to 4.33. And then, the Angels will add Jose Quintana and hopefully a healthy Shohei Ohtani. But, if the Angels are able to bring in Trevor Bauer, they might take Ohtani out of the rotation so he can get right.
Even with Trevor Bauer, the Angels wouldn’t have an elite rotation but they would have one that’s good enough to win the AL West. The Angels’ offense is solid, the bullpen got a little better, and the pitching improved last season.
The AL West is rather wide open for once, and the Angels need to capitalize. They have the 4th most expensive 2021 total payroll according to Spotrac, so there is no going back.
The Los Angeles Angels have tried to build a winning team, and this year they need to go for it all. If they sign Trevor Bauer, they will win the AL West.