The team at Mets360 along with assorted friends inside and outside of baseball took on the roles of all 30 MLB general managers. The idea, conduct the entire offseason in a week. This ended up a massive undertaking and if I had a dollar for every email, text and IM on this project alone, I’d have a down payment for a new car.
For this project, we tackled arbitration, free agent signings and trades. Each team was given a budget and the goal was to produce a 25-man roster for Opening Day. After all 30 owners were in place, we started with some basic rules. Teams had a week to familiarize themselves with their teams and to test the rules to see what needed tweaking. And boy was there tweaking.
The biggest headache was arbitration. In an ideal world, we would have waited until all of the forecasts from other sources like MLB Trade Rumors were available. But last year those were not available until early November and the goal was for us to be done before the conclusion of the World Series. If a mulligan was available, we would have delayed the project.
In consultation with ZiPS creator Dan Szymborski, the arbitration formula was set to tie payouts to fWAR dollar values. A player going through their first round of arbitration would receive a 35 percent raise, an ARB 2 guy would get a 55 percent bump and an ARB 3 player would pull in a 70 percent raise. As far as ballpark figures go, these weren’t bad, although we did find three problems. The system was off base for ARB 1 guys who had big years, it gave some big raises for ARB 2 and ARB 3 guys who came out of nowhere and it made no allowance for Super Two/ARB 4 guys.
We established caps, $5 million for an ARB 1 player, $10 million for an ARB 2 player and $15 million for ARB 3. We also determined an ARB 2 guy could not see a salary increase beyond four times his previous salary and an ARB 3 guy could not receive more than double his previous salary. ARB 4 guys followed the ARB 3 rules.
Anyone who had a positive dollar value got at least a 10 percent raise in arbitration, while players at zero or negative numbers kept their 2014 salary.
These on the fly tweaks worked well. That’s not to say that the end result was perfect, but nobody was penalized too harshly. Josh Donaldson, for example, didn’t get a $12 million salary as an ARB 1 guy and no middle reliever pulled in a 1,000 percent raise for a strong 50 innings.
Free agents were handled by a blind bid process. This was less than ideal, but with 30 people stretched out from New York to Los Angeles participating in their spare time with no compensation, it was the optimal solution. There were some salaries that are completely out of whack – Chris Davis was signed to a $1.1 million contract, but everyone in the project understands and accepts this and we hope you will too.
The other big issue was how to handle trades. Since more than a few owners have a fantasy background, the idea was to ensure that 20 different new guys did not wind up on every team’s roster. The solution was to impose a limit of three trades, since teams rarely make more than three deal between Nov. 1-Feb. 1. Of course, one owner pointed out last year’s Oakland A’s team, which executed six deals in this time frame. They are the exception that proves the rule, but with enough people lobbying for a change, the limit was pushed to four.
Below are the results of our simulation. Each owner was required to submit a 25-man roster with salaries and all were invited to write about their experience. Click on the team names to see the information they provided to me.
If we polled the 30 owners and asked them about the experience, the overwhelming, perhaps even unanimous, answer would be that this was fun. Hopefully, you’ll find it fun too. Keep that in mind and don’t nitpick everything to death.
This project was made with assumptions and rules that had no basis in reality. I blame no one for being turned off because of this. But after the amount of time I spent on this, I don’t want to hear anyone complain that this isn’t based in reality. There’s no need for anyone to play the Captain Obvious role. Please note that if you make one of those useless comments, I will delete it.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be critical. To me, the value comes in from what the owners viewed as the relative strengths and weaknesses of their teams and what actions they took. Criticize away for a team overvaluing a prospect it acquired in a trade. If a team plays in a park that kills right-handed power, feel free to point out how they overpaid in trade for a righty-power bat with no other skills whose value you believe will tumble. If a team’s top 10 prospects are all pitchers knocking on the door of the majors, blast the owner who acquired a SP5 and gave up something worthwhile.
I think there can be plenty of valuable discussion within the proper framework: Commend the guy who pulled off the great trade; criticize the guy who sold assets for 20 cents on the dollar; blast the guy who didn’t accurately gauge his farm system or future payroll or where they were in the success cycle. Please post your feedback here at the main page, rather than the individual team pages linked below. Rather than dividing the posts by team, we hope to maintain a lively discussion about the project with everyone.
Editor’s Note – This page will be updated as I receive more information from various owners.
Milwaukee Brewers – Eric Stashin
St. Louis Cardinals
Arizona Diamondbacks – Michael Geus
Colorado Rockies – Steve Parsons
Los Angeles Dodgers – Rob Reed
San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants – Charlie Hangley