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AL West Notes: Astros, Angels, Rangers

Let’s check in on the latest notes from around the American League West …

  • With or without baseball in 2020, the Astros will soon be faced with a gaping void in the outfield, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle observes. Each of George Springer, Michael Brantley and Josh Reddick are slated to hit the open market at season’s end. And while top prospect Kyle Tucker can hopefully step up as an everyday option in their absence, the organization has little else waiting in the wings. Astros steal Yordan Alvarez is regarded as a part-time corner outfielder at best, while fleet-footed Myles Straw has looked like more of a reserve type than a regular. That trio’s potential departure does open up some payroll space, but the ’Stros already have more than $134MM in luxury tax obligations — and that’s before arbitration raises to Carlos Correa, Roberto Osuna, Lance McCullers Jr., Chris Devenski, Aledmys Diaz and Joe Biagini.
  • The Angels weren’t able to land any of their top rotation targets in free agency this winter, but general manager Billy Eppler and his staff hope that an emphasis on improved receiving from their catchers will contribute to better results on the pitching staff, writes Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Max Stassi and Jason Castro are considered to be two of the game’s best in terms of pitch framing, and the pair spoke about the fact that it’s not necessarily a coincidence that they’re considered as such. Both were with the Astros in 2013 when Astros analyst Mike Fast presented on the importance of the skill to Houston catchers during Spring Training. Both backstops provide their thoughts on the skill as a whole — Castro on why he feels “framing” is a misnomer and Stassi giving his thoughts on a potential automated strike zone. Framing has become an increased point of emphasis for the Angels in recent years, per Eppler: “…[I]f you have a catcher who you know can present a ball well and receive a ball well, that gives confidence to your pitchers and could potentially move a count from 2-1 to 1-2.”
  • Rangers president of baseball operations Jon Daniels updated reporters on his organization, as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram relays. Of note, three members of the organization – all minor leaguers – have shown coronavirus symptoms. Fortunately, those players seem to be recovering well. Meanwhile, after suffering a fractured jaw just under a month ago, outfielder Willie Calhoun continues to progress. Calhoun “has no limitations” at this point, Wilson writes. Assuming there is a season, Calhoun just might break out in 2020 after a promising showing last year.

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