MLB Trade Deadline Matches for the AL West

With less than three days until the MLB trade deadline, teams are working to improve their rosters. Who should each American League West team target?

With the August 1st deadline fast approaching, each AL West team has decisions to make on their roster. The division-leading Texas Rangers are in full buyer mode with the third-best record in the American League. The Houston Astros are also in playoff position in the second wild-card spot. The talk of the MLB trade deadline so far has been the Los Angeles Angels as they sit three games behind a playoff spot. Just after them is the Seattle Mariners, 4.5 games out. Bringing up the rear are the historically inept Oakland A’s. Before the deadline, most of the teams in the AL West will impact playoff races around baseball. Let’s take a look at who each team should focus on.

Houston Astros – Justin Lawrence

After years of performing at the top of the league, the Astros have taken a slight step back this season. The defending World Series champions have faced injuries and underperformance, and now find themselves in need of a commanding bullpen arm at the MLB trade deadline. Justin Lawrence has performed well this season, posting a 2.94 ERA in 44 appearances. With a nasty sweeper and hard fastball, he’s had success late in games and can reduce the workload of Houston’s big arms. He also is under team control for the next 5 seasons, making his high prospect cost worth it in the long run.

Los Angeles Angels – Brad Hand

The Angels have already been the talk of the MLB trade deadline. Now that they have resolved to keep Shohei Ohtani, they’ve gone all in and added pitching already. However, they need to go further, and the Colorado Rockies have another reliever available. Left-hander Brad Hand has a 4.76 ERA this season in 38 appearances, and fills out the Angels bullpen with another lefty. Though he’s no longer an all-star closer, Hand brings a veteran presence and has a team option for next season. If he pitches well, he’d no longer be a rental.

Oakland A’s – Top 30 Prospects

The A’s have been painful to watch this season. At 28-76, they are on pace to be one of the worst teams in major league history. In order to right the ship (if ownership even wants to do that), Oakland needs to squeeze every drop of value from their roster at the MLB trade deadline. Having already made one trade during deadline season, the A’s need to make every transaction available to them in exchange for prospects that will join their top-30 list. Anything else will make Oakland, and soon to be Vegas, fans suffer for longer.

Seattle Mariners – Thread the Needle

The Mariners are within striking distance of a playoff spot, but have not inspired confidence that they’ll make a run. Seattle’s season has been characterized by a ‘one step forward, one step back’ trend. This is not enough to tear down the roster at the MLB trade deadline, especially after the team’s playoff drought was snapped last season. So, it’s up to the Mariners to strategically build for the future while not sacrificing the present. Teoscar Hernandez is an impending free agent who provides a power threat, and would command a decent return. In addition, the Mariners have four starters under 26 with multiple years of team control. Trading for a young position player to add to the team’s core would provide a benefit, if the deal was right.

Texas Rangers – Scott Barlow

The Rangers have been one of the best teams in baseball this year. Texas has a high-powered offense, but their pitching staff leaves room for improvement. The club has already acquired one Royals reliever at the deadline, but they should re-engage for the other available arm from Kansas City. Barlow has struggled this season despite recording 12 saves, but the Rangers would not acquire him to close games. He’s a solid depth piece with team control, and the Rangers’ solid farm system has more than enough assets to entice the Royals to make another deal.

In the final days before the MLB trade deadline, many eyes have been turned toward the AL West. Four teams figure to have an impact on the American League playoff picture. Even if some of them trade players away, AL West clubs will be building with an eye towards October and the years beyond.

Be sure to follow all of Last Word on Sports’ coverage of the MLB trade deadline.

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