The biggest offseason move the Angels made was giving Mike Trout enough money over the next 12 years for the superstar center fielder to fund a reshoot of the blockbuster film “Avatar.”

Texas did next to nothing and Seattle did little to combat massive losses to what was anything but a world-beating offense in 2018. Oakland was unable to sure up a rotation that was its demise a year ago, then suffered a pair massive lossesMatt Olson (fractured hamate bone in right hand) and Jesus Luzardo (strained left shoulder) — in late March.

All roads appear to lead to a third consecutive AL West crown for Houston.

The Athletics came out of nowhere in 2018, pushing an Astros division race clinch nearly into October. But the A’s will be without ace Sean Manaea for much if not all of 2019, and they knew that heading into the winter but did nothing to alleviate that loss — despite the rotation being their biggest question mark down the stretch of what was an eventual Wild Card Game loss.

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Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sean Manaea (55) reacts after ending the first inning as the Arizona Diamondbacks face the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, May 25, 2018.

Oakland added 2016 All-Star Marco Estrada, who carries a lifetime ERA of 4.24 and is coming off a season that saw him finish at 5.64.

Patrick Corbin was available, as was Gio Gonzalez, Dallas Keuchel and Wade Miley. But the A’s filled the hole with hopes that Estrada can rebound from a back injury and back-to-back rough seasons.

There aren’t many questions regarding the A’s offense, defense or bullpen. But the rotation was the most glaring issue heading into the winter and remains such.

Making matters worse, Olson will be out for at least a month and Luzardo, the organization’s top prospect who was expected to make the Opening Day roster, will be out all of April himself.

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Houston Astros starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) throws a pitch in the first inning as the Houston Astros face the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, June 13, 2018.

The Astros on the other hand have a wealth of starter depth, having added Miley to a mix that already included Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Collin McHugh. Houston also scatters superstars throughout the lineup and litters the field with Gold Glove-caliber defenders. There biggest loss, aside from Keuchel, was left fielder Marwin González. But they got better there, replacing him with Michael Brantley.

Houston was near the top of the league in every major category both on the mound and in the batter’s box last year, and with a healthy José Altuve, a former MVP and Gold Glover, they should get better in both areas.

Los Angeles looks to continue its role as the worst team to have the league’s reigning best player.

The Angels have made the postseason one time in Trout’s eight-year career thus far, with injuries issues shredding their rotation every year.

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A’s starting pitcher Trevor Cahill (53) is pictured here throwing his sinker, but it has been the changeup that has led to his 2018 success.

Los Angeles’ hopes for success this year will fall on newly acquired starters Trevor Cahill and Matt Harvey. Both have huge potential but have never truly realized it.

The Mariners are an entirely different issue. Apparently conceding the divisional crown to Houston, Seattle ditched Robinson Canó, Nelson Cruz Edwin Díaz, James Paxton, Jean Segura and Mike Zunino. But that didn’t seem to bother them in Tokyo where they took two of two from the A’s in the Japan Series.

Over 162 however, the Mariners, who held a Wild Card spot for much of the 2018 season before falling off and out down the stretch, just don’t have the firepower to compete with Houston.

Neither does Texas, who mixed Hunter Pence into the outfield, replaced Adrián Beltré with Asdrúbal Cabrera and added mid-level talent to a rotation that was among the worst in 2018.

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San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence (8) connects for a solo home run in the fifth inning as the San Diego Padres face the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, September 25, 2018.

The only question in need of answering in the junior circuit’s west division is when does Houston celebrate a third straight clinch.


1st — Astros 101-61 (103-59 last season)

2nd — Athletics 87-75 (97-65 last season)

3rd — Angels 84-78 (80-82 last season)

4th — Mariners 77-85 (89-73 last season)

5th — Rangers 65-97 (67-95\ last season)

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