Jerry Dipoto and the Halos brain trust haven't really made any huge splashes yet this offseason, save for effectively trading Howie Kendrick for top lefty starter Andrew Heaney. Cuban infielder Roberto Baldoquin could be a factor for the 2015 club, which is also looking to get Garrett Richards back on top of the rotation after his season-ending knee injury derailed a Cy Young-caliber breakout year. The Halos should have enough firepower to be a threat in the A.L. West again next year, but it'll be interesting to see how they fare against the much-improved Mariners and Rangers squads.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY SportsSteve Mitchell
After coming oh-so-close to a long-desired playoff spot in 2014, the M's reloaded this offseason in an effort to build a more complete offensive attack. Nelson Cruz, Seth Smith and Justin Ruggiano should help the lineup score more runs, while J.A. Happ provides more rotation depth. The loss of Brandon Maurer could affect the bullpen's potency, but with several other arms ready to step up (including, maybe, Taijuan Walker), the M's should have one of the West's more formidable staffs. Couple that with a rotation led by King Felix and an offense anchored by newcomer Cruz and third baseman Kyle Seager and you can see why so many are expecting big things from Seattle in 2015.
Getty ImagesPatrick Smith
Billy Beane did it again, completely revamping the A's roster after a disappointing Wild Card game loss to Kansas City. Gone are big names like Josh Donaldson, Jeff Samardzija, Derek Norris and Brandon Moss, having been replaced by (among others) Brett Lawrie, Marcus Semien, Ben Zobrist, Billy Butler, Jesse Hahn and a host of promising young talent. Considering Beane's track record, it's still hard to argue with him even when the trades shock the baseball world - so it shouldn't surprise anybody if the totally new-look Green & Gold are better in 2015 than some might otherwise expect. That's just how things go in Oakland, and it'd be foolish to expect them to be a 90-loss team. That's not how Beane rolls.
Getty ImagesJim McIsaac
After an injury-plagued 2014, the biggest thing for the Rangers in 2015 will be health. The Rangers are undoubtedly looking forward to full seasons from Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo, and recently picked up Yovani Gallardo as well. Gallardo will be a key component to the rotation and if all goes according to plan the Rangers should fare much better this season than they did last year.
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY SportsBob DeChiara
After six straight losing seasons, the Astros hope to make a big jump in 2015. The team seems to be finished selling their veteran pieces as they have added Dan Straily, Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek to strengthen their pitching staff and Hank Conger, Evan Gattis, Jed Lowrie, Colby Rasmus and Luis Valbuena to fortify their lineup. G.M. Jeff Luhnow has been bold, and it will be interesting to see if it all works sooner rather than later.
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY SportsDaniel Shirey
So who takes it?
Considering how the Angels ran away with the division in 2014, it's hard to count them out as a repeat threat in 2015...while the Mariners are significantly better, their offense needs to make major strides if they're serious about re-emerging as a legitimite division threat. Until that happens, the Halos should have their way again in 2015 - though it will probably wind up a much closer/heated race this season than it was in '14. Our expert panel agrees: Lindsey Foltin - Angels Adrian Garro - Angels Zachary Benau - Angels Danny Farris - Mariners