The Seattle Mariners had an aging team that was only going to get more expensive and more fragile as birthdays passed, and while general manager Jerry Dipoto and his bosses could have tried to bend reality and continue to spend big dollars to prop up a team that won 89 games last season, they acknowledged their context in the AL West.
The Houston Astros won the World Series in 2017 and reached the American League Championship Series two months ago, and they have a large core of stars residing in what should be the best years of their respective careers. Oakland’s best players — 24-year-old slugger Matt Olson and 25-year-old third baseman Matt Chapman — are still developing and the Athletics should have an overpowering bullpen again, augmented by the two-year signing of Joakim Soria.
Dipoto’s logic is that with a reset of their payroll obligations and the addition of prospects like Jarred Kelenic, the Mariners could be positioned better to rise in 2021 when Houston’s Jose Altuve and George Springer are older and beginning a regression, and Chapman and Olson will be closer to 30 years old than 20. Dipoto will stockpile young talent and money when the Mariners have a better opportunity to win.
Which brings us to the Angels, one of just a handful of teams in baseball stuck in that place executives desperately work to avoid — the competitive middle ground — despite the presence of a future inner-circle Hall of Famer.