It’s widely presumed that right-hander Gerrit Cole will be leaving the Houston Astros in free agency this offseason. If the prevailing notion holds true, it could open the door for the Oakland Athletics in the American League West.
If the Astros come back with the same team they had in 2019 minus Cole and reliever Will Harris, another free agent, they’re still one of the best teams in Major League Baseball and likely still going to be in the World Series mix. They won the AL pennant this year with a young, well-versed lineup and dominant starting pitching. That’s pretty good, right?
At the same time, while they’re a phenomenal ballclub from top to bottom, losing one of the five best starting pitchers in baseball is an enormous blow — even if they bring in some reinforcements — because their divisional foe is a pennant contender.
The A’s are a great team. They just so happen to be in the same division as the Astros and the same league as the Astros, New York Yankees, and Minnesota Twins, who all won 100-plus games in the regular season. Meanwhile, the A’s won 97 games and did so with a potent and underappreciated ballclub.
At the plate, manager Bob Melvin has a…