Heading into the 2019 campaign, the Houston Astros were seen as the clear and heavy favorite to take their third consecutive AL West title. After the first half of the season, they have a healthy six-game lead over the Oakland Athletics despite dealing with several injuries. Still, the AL West has a couple of teams that could bulk up for the playoff push.
Houston Astros – Buyers
Houston has an incredible lineup featuring MVP candidates Alex Bregman, George Springer, and Michael Brantly. That doesn’t even include other All-Stars and former MVPs such as Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. Their bullpen, led by Roberto Osuna, Ryan Pressley, and Will Harris, is among the best in baseball. However, if Houston has one area that really needs improvement, it’s the backend of the starting staff. Justin Verlander might be the AL Cy Young frontrunner and Gerrit Cole has been outstanding, but after that things get dicey. The Astros are obviously built to be a title contender for the next few years and they also have a stocked farm system with five top-100 prospects, including four in the top-50. Should they go after a big-name starter, expect it to be someone with a few years of control, such as Matt Boyd or Marcus Stroman.
Oakland Athletics – Buyers
Just a half-game out of a wild card position, the Athletics are in an interesting spot as the second half begins. Their ace, Frankie Montas, was suspended for abusing the MLB’s performance-enhancing drug policy. On the bright side, they’ll get Sean Manaea back for the first time in 2019 in the next few weeks. Still, Oakland’s starting rotation is pretty suspect, so expect that to be the main area of concern should they start buying. As for the offense, the Athletics could look to replace Jurrickson Profar at second base or pick up some outfield depth.
Texas Rangers – Stand Still
After starting the second half of the year with a pair of wins over the division-leading Astros, the Texas Rangers are just a game-and-a-half out of the wild card race. It’s a bit of a surprise, but the Rangers may actually look to bolster their roster this month rather than sell off pieces. However, they likely won’t add expiring contracts, but instead, consider buying with the next few seasons in mind. With a very mediocre pitching staff (20th in baseball with a 4.77 ERA), that’s likely where the team would look to improve. Texas’ farm system is still fairly thin though, so the team’s best option could be to remain silent at the deadline.
Los Angeles Angels – Sellers
While the Los Angeles Angels are sitting at 46-46, the 11-game deficit in the division will be too much to overcome. Not to mention the Angels are painfully desperate for some prospect depth right now. Aside from top-five prospect Jo Adell, the team doesn’t have anyone in the top-100. The Angels have a decent amount of players that should be available, but none would bring back a huge return. A handful of bullpen arms (Hansel Robles, Cam Bedrosian, etc.), starter Trevor Cahill, and infielder Andrelton Simmons are all names that the team should be shopping this month.
Seattle Mariners – Sellers
The Seattle Mariners have already been big sellers, moving Jay Bruce and Edwin Encarnacion in June. The team is nearly 20 games out of first place and overall just does not have a competing roster. Still, the team has several assets left to move. Utility man Dee Gordon, shortstop Tim Beckham, and reliever Roenis Elias could all be interesting trade candidates in the coming weeks. The Mariners should be able to beef up their farm system that’s home to six top-100 prospects.