The Oakland Athletics have already tasted some success, reaching the postseason in the past two years. But the stage is set for the A’s to dominate the AL West into the new decade.
The American League West is in the midst of a transition. The Houston Astros have dominated the division over the past few years, winning the 2017 World Series and reaching the Fall Classic in 2019. Now that the lid has blown off of AstroGate, and the garbage can is back where it belongs, the Astros seem to be in trouble.
In theory, this is where the Oakland Athletics step in. A Wild Card team in each of the last two seasons, the A’s are the logical team to take over the division from the Astros. Given their young roster, and a seemingly unending pipeline of pitching prospects, the A’s are poised to strike.
That window of opportunity is not just limited to 2020. The Astros may be on the precipice of a mass departure of talent that could render their postseason aspirations moot. At the end of this year, whether or not the 2020 season actually happens, the Astros entire starting outfield – Josh Reddick, George Springer, and Michael Brantley – are eligible for free agency. First baseman Yuri Gurriel is also poised to join his teammates on the open market.
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Then comes 2021. The Astros currently have Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers Jr., and Carlos Correa slated to hit the open market. Those hits come on the heels of losing Gerrit Cole this past offseason, and the potential loss of talent in the coming winter.
Meanwhile, the A’s have the perfect opportunity to strike. Sean Manaea, A.J. Puk, Frankie Montas, and Jesus Luzardo all have a minimum of three more years of team control. Matt Chapman and Matt Olson are all under team control through 2023, and Ramon Laureano is not slated to test free agency until 2025.
Obviously, this ignores possible extensions. The Astros may well keep some of those players, with Springer the most likely extension candidate. However, the A’s could extend several members of their young core as well. The window of opportunity is there, and the A’s are in the perfect position to dominate the division for years to come.
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The Oakland Athletics are poised to take over the American League West. That era of dominance could begin as soon as this season.