The Seattle Mariners are selling off assets faster than a company going in the tank, and that's interesting news for the Oakland A's.
Despite winning 89 games last season, the Mariners have decided to go in full rebuild mode. In just the last few weeks, they've traded away James Paxton, Edwin Diaz, Robinson Cano, Jean Segura, Juan Nicasio, Mike Zunino and Alex Colome.
With the M's fire sale, the Rangers still years away from contention and the Angels toiling in mediocrity, the American League West appears to be a two-team race between the A's and Astros for the foreseeable future.
Over the last four years, the Angels have failed to win more than 85 games. Despite Mike Trout's brilliance, Los Angeles has made the postseason only once since 2010.
The next two years will be critical for the Angels, as Trout is scheduled to become a free agent in 2021. If they continue to underachieve, Trout almost certainly will sign somewhere else.
Oakland and Houston, meanwhile, have a wealth of young talent, and both figure to remain near the top of the AL standings for years to come. The A's can build around current and future stars such as Matt Chapman, Matt Olson and Ramón Laureano, not to mention Khris Davis and a deep bullpen. They also can construct a starting rotation around top prospects Jesús Luzardo and A.J. Puk.
The Astros continue to restock their farm system, and even if they lose a couple of pieces from the current roster, they're built to last. All-Stars Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and George Springer all are under 30 years old.
The Mariners' rebuild should help both the A's and Astros in terms of strength of schedule, too. Each team gets to play Seattle 19 times each year, giving them an opportunity to pile up wins within the division.
Make no mistake, though: Houston still is the class of the division. The Astros will be extremely difficult to dethrone, but at least now there is one fewer challenger.