The American League West has the potential to be an extremely competitive division this year. There are three teams all looking to make a push for the playoffs.
The Los Angeles Angels have made a lot of additions in the offseason in the hope that they can add a couple of wins from where they finished last year, ending just short of the wild-card race.
Up in Seattle, the Mariners are hoping this is their year. They have made a few additions to an aging roster that they hope will push them forward. The Mariners hold the longest streak in professional sports of not making playoffs.
Then there is the World Series champions Houston Astros. The Astros came into the 2018 off-season flying-high after winning the World Series, but still wanting to improve.
Houston wanted to add starting pitching as well as some bullpen arms to help sure up their weaknesses from the 2017 postseason, most importantly the World Series.
This off-season there were some big starting pitchers in free agency that analysts thought the Astros would go after to sure up their rotation. These big name free agent pitchers being Yu Darvish from the Los Angeles Dodgers and Jake Arrieta from the Chicago Cubs.
Many people were questioning whether or not the Astros would even make a move once it got further into the off-season and those two pitchers were still on the table.
Looking at their team, it wasn’t like they absolutely had to go get people, their roster clearly is set up to win coming off the World Series victory. They are young, talented, and have most of that talent on contract to stay for a little while.
These questions were answered when owner Jim Crane and general manager Jeff Luhnow acquired Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Astros gave the Pirates four players in return, but none of the four were top prospects in the Astros farm system.
Joe Musgrove, Michael Feliz, Colin Moran, and Jason Martin were the four players given up to get Gerrit Cole in return. Now, why did the Astros choose Cole over Darvish and Arrieta who they wouldn’t have had to trade for?
They loved that Cole was only 27 years old, four years younger than 31-year-olds Darvish and Arrieta. They also liked that he won’t be an unrestricted free agent until 2020, giving them two solid years of young pitching.
Another big reason is that both Darvish and Arrieta are believed to be asking for four to six-year deals. In today’s game, being in your 30’s is seen as old. Teams don’t want to give players in their 30’s (even if it is 31 in this case) multi-year deals because they don’t think it will pay off in the long run.
If you look at the most recent long-term deals like that, you will see Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, and Robinson Cano who all signed 10-year contracts with 200 million plus dollars owed. That will take all three of them into their age 40+ seasons, where you are sure to see decline.
Not that these are the deals Darvish and Arrieta are asking for, but the Astros did not want to get stuck in that situation where they are paying hundreds of millions to a player who is aging and not performing at that level anymore.
The Astros are looking to go back-to-back and the projected starting rotation of Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, and Lance McCullers Jr. is a pretty great way to go about repeating as world champs.