Athletics

How Mariners' trades make AL West a two-team race between A's, Astros

khrisdavisusatsi.jpg
USATSI

How Mariners' trades make AL West a two-team race between A's, Astros

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.

[RELATED: Non-tender players who might interest the A's]

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.

Tanner Roark continues to pay off for A's, stymies Yankees in 5-3 win

Tanner Roark continues to pay off for A's, stymies Yankees in 5-3 win

The A's were rumored to be in the mix for some of the star pitchers available at the MLB trade deadline last month. Instead, they ended up with Tanner Roark.

And, as evidenced in their 5-3 win over the Yankees on Thursday night at Oakland Coliseum, one could make the case the A's are better off.

Roark posted his third consecutive quality start, limiting the Bronx Bombers to seven hits and two runs over 6 1/3 innings while striking out seven. The end result? The completion of a sweep of the best team in the AL.

The A's finished off that sweep without closer Liam Hendriks, who got the night off after completing a five-out save Wednesday. Perhaps even more impressive, Oakland did so without the aid of a single home run.

The sweep comes on the heels of another impressive series, in which the A's took three of four from the AL West-leading Astros, who sit just a single victory behind New York for the league’s best record.

Six wins in seven games -- well, it's actually seven in eight -- is impressive enough. To do so against top-level competition is difficult to overlook.

"It shows what kind of clubhouse we have, what kind of guys we have in here," Roark told reporters after the win. "Sticking together and trusting one another that if someone doesn't do the job the first time, someone else will pick them up the next time. That's what it's all about."

To acquire Roark from the Reds, the A's had to part with top-10 prospect Jameson Hannah. It likely would have cost considerably more for Oakland to land one of the available stars, but even that price might have seemed a little steep at the time.

Not anymore.

In each of his four starts with the A’s, Roark has gone at least five innings without allowing more than two earned runs (for a total of seven). In his previous four starts with Cincinnati, he never once topped five innings, and never allowed fewer than two runs (for a total of 16).

With the A's completing the sweep, and the Indians suffering a three-game sweep at the hands of the Mets, Oakland jumped into the lead for the first AL wild-card spot, just percentage points ahead of Tampa Bay. The Reds, on the other hand, won't come close to sniffing the playoff.

[RELATED: Khrush hopes opposite-field homer can break brutal slump]

Clearly, Roark has responded well to his new environment, and should the A's succeed in their pursuit of a wild-card spot, one has to imagine he'll be a lot happier than he would’ve been had there not been a trade.

If Roark keeps this up, you can bet the A's will feel the same way, too.

Watch A's Prize Patrol surprise lucky fan Jason M. with $5,000

Watch A's Prize Patrol surprise lucky fan Jason M. with $5,000

For Jason M., it literally paid off to watch Wednesday's A's broadcast on NBC Sports California.

Jason is the second winner of the A's Prize Patrol contest and won $5,000, which was presented to him on Thursday evening.

Additionally, the A's will match the $5,000 prize and donate it to Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area.

So what did Jason have to do in order to win the $5,000 grand prize? On Wednesday, he tuned in to A's-Yankees game, and when a secret code was revealed, he went to https://www.nbcsports.com/bayarea/prizepatrol  and filled out the form.

Five random finalists were selected on Thursday, and each was asked to write 50 words on what makes them such big A's fans.

“We’re a family of true Oakland A’s fans," Jason wrote. "I’ve started teaching my 4-year old to bat and he insists he’ll play for the A’s someday. And, I kid you not, my wife and I even watched the A’s games from our hospital delivery room for both of our children!”

A's In-Stadium host Kara Tsuboi, mascot Stomper, A's Prize Patrol and NBC Sports California surprised Jason at his home on Thursday night.

If you want the chance to follow in Jason's footsteps and win $5,000 for yourself and a charity, you have two more chances this season.

Watch these two upcoming game broadcasts for the secret code:

Sept. 3 vs. Los Angeles Angels
Sept. 6 vs. Detroit Tigers

Once the secret code is revealed, you can enter the contest here.

The A's Prize Patrol was created as a way for the team and NBC Sports California to reward fans for tuning in to A's broadcasts. Watch the A’s to win and support your community.