10 Biggest Offseason Additions to the AL West in 2014
10 Biggest Additions to AL West in 2014
The AL West was incredibly active this offseason, adding key pieces to try and make a run to the World Series in 2014. Each club showed some aggressive tendencies to add players they felt could help them win right away and will be leaning on them heavily throughout the season to get them to the top of the division this fall.
But not every new face will have the same level of expectation placed on them as they get situated in their new homes. The AL West will welcome some marquee talents to the division this spring as teams showed no fear in chasing the players they wanted. The Seattle Mariners were particularly aggressive adding star power to their lineup and bullpen to make up some ground in the division race this season.
And they were far from the only ones. After watching the division title slip away from them late, the Texas Rangers went out and loaded up their lineup with new faces to take them to the next level in 2014. The Los Angeles Angels, who had made big-name acquisitions the last two seasons, were relatively quiet this year, opting to add some complimentary pieces to the lineup for this season. The Oakland A’s will look to defend their division crown after adding some key pieces to the puzzle this offseason and the Houston Astros even went out and added some big-name talent, though they will still be a team built on youth.
So which newcomers to the division will have the biggest impact on their new clubs in 2014? Here are the 10 best offseason additions to the AL West.
10. J.P. Arencibia, C Texas Rangers
While J.P. Arencibia is coming off a season where he posted the worst on-base percentage (.227) and strikeout rate (29.8 percent) of any player with at least 120 games caught, there’s no denying that the new catcher for the Rangers has some pop in his bat. Over the last three seasons, he’s hit 62 home runs and now moves into the hitter-friendly confines of Rangers Ballpark. His impact on this season may be limited by his backup role to Geovany Soto, but if Texas finds him enough at-bats, Arencibia is a strong candidate to hit 20 home runs in 2014.
9. Scott Feldman, SP Houston Astros
After spending time in the bullpen for Texas in 2011 and 2012, Scott Feldman made his triumphant return to the starting rotation in 2013 for the Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles. While his play dipped a bit in the second half after getting traded to the Orioles, Feldman put together a pretty strong campaign in 2013, posting career-bests in ERA (3.86), WAR (1.6), and strikeouts (132). Now, he makes his return to the AL West with Houston where he figures to be the team’s Opening Day starter in 2014. While he won’t likely get a lot of support from an anemic Astro lineup, Feldman has the stuff be the ace of the Houston staff in 2014.
8. David Freese, 3B Los Angeles Angels
Third base has been a tough position for the Angels to fill in recent years so they went out and acquired David Freese from the St. Louis Cardinals to provide a consistent presence at the hot corner in their lineup. The former World Series MVP has been a steady bat for much of his career, though he’s coming off a bit of a down 2013 campaign. Los Angeles will be counting on Freese to bounce back in 2014 (along with much of the rest of their lineup) to create one of the more potent offenses in all of baseball.
7. Corey Hart, OF Seattle Mariners
After missing all of the 2013 season with surgeries on both of his knees, Corey Hart signed a free agent deal with Seattle to add some pop to their lineup. The M’s will be counting on Hart and those surgically repaired knees pretty heavily to provide some protection to another big-name free agent acquisition this offseason and help the Seattle offense put some runs on the board in 2014. If he can replicate his success from before his injury-lost 2013 season and stay healthy, Hart will be a key piece of the Seattle gameplan in 2014.
6. Fernando Rodney, RP Seattle Mariners
Two years removed from one of the best seasons for a closer in history, Fernando Rodney cashed in with Seattle this offseason and will be the closer for the M’s in 2014. While he took a step back in 2013 from his phenomenal 2012 (thanks in large part to his walk rate jumping back up), but only two pitchers in all of baseball have more saves over the last two seasons than Rodney’s 85 close-outs. He remains one of the premier closers in baseball and will be good for 30-plus saves in 2014 if given enough opportunities.
5. Dexter Fowler, OF Houston Astros
In a somewhat surprising move, the Colorado Rockies traded away Dexter Fowler and Houston was all too happy to welcome him to the AL West in 2014. He brings speed in the field and on the bases to the Astros and will bat leadoff for Houston in 2014. While he likely won’t have the statistical success he had in Colorado (at least initially), there’s no denying the infusion of talent he brings to the Houston lineup as they build for the future.
4. Shin-Soo Choo, OF Texas Rangers
Shin-Soo Choo cashed in this offseason and will bring his disciplined approach at the plate to one of the most offensively advantageous places he could have landed with the Rangers. He’ll be penciled in at the lead-off spot to help improve the top of the team’s lineup a bit by getting on base and finding ways to come around and score. He’s a potential 20/20 player in 2014 and could easily repeat (or exceed) his gaudy 107 runs scored total from 2013.
3. Jim Johnson, RP Oakland Athletics
While Rodney has been one of the best closers in baseball over the last two seasons, Jim Johnson has been THE best. He became just the second reliever in history to record back-to-back 50-save seasons in 2013 and nobody has had as many saves over the last two years than Johnson. Oakland traded for the talented closer this offseason to be the man at the back end of the rotation and solidify a new-look bullpen for 2014.
2. Prince Fielder, 1B Texas Rangers
As one of the premier power hitters in baseball throughout his career, Prince Fielder now moves to the hitter-friendly confines of Arlington to be the featured piece of the Texas offense in 2014. Texas was able to pry him away from the Detroit Tigers following a bit of a down year in 2013 for the slugging first baseman but there’s every indication he’s ready for a bounce-back year as he puts the Rangers offense on his broad shoulders.
1. Robinson Cano, 2B Seattle Mariners
The Mariners made the splash of free agency when they inked Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240-million deal that will make him the face of the franchise for the next decade (or until he retires). Cano is arguably the best second baseman in baseball right now offensively and will be the featured piece of the Seattle offense in 2014 and beyond. He is as consistent a presence at the plate as any second baseman in baseball right now and will be the driving force for Seattle’s success in 2014.