This is a project where 30 people got together to act as the GMs of the 30 MLB teams with the idea of conducting the offseason in one week. This is what happened in this simulation, not a prediction of what will happen in real life.
By Peter Kreutzer
In 2016, when Brian Joura invited me into his General Manager Simulation as the GM of the Minnesota Twins, my first priority was getting rid of Joe Mauer’s terrible contract. $23 million per year for three more years, offloaded to someone else, seemed like a pure win. That I was able to deal him for James Loney, who was owed for 2016 but not after, felt like a clever play as well.
In 2016, Mauer hit .261 with a .752 OPS, driving 11 homers with 49 RBI. Loney, by contrast, in 200 fewer at bats, hit .265 with a .704 OPS, nine homers and 34 RBI. I’d say the difference was worth more than $15 million in cash.
But a problem came up. Shortly after the sim concluded I met Twins beat writer Mike Berardino, of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press. He liked the concept of that deal, but he said that there was no way in the world that the Twins were going to dump Joe Mauer. He is just too big a hero to the hometown fans, and so the team is content to ride out his contract and then move him into a coaching position when it is done.
I didn’t have to consider the fans in the sim, I could be ruthless, but when I was assigned the Twins again this year I decided to try to work within the limitations that carrying Mauer’s contract imposes on the team.
With a budget of $104 million, and paying Joe Mauer $23 million, I went to work.
Mauer’s contract was not the only problem. I would have preferred not to have Ervin Santana and Phil Hughes each earning $13+ million this year and next, and I had the injured Glen Perkins making $6.5 million this year. His shoulder surgery last June was so profoundly complex his career might be over.
Finally, I had to decide whether to arbitrate with Trevor Plouffe. Looking at $8.2M after an injury-shortened season, I decided to let him walk. I did arbitrate with Hector Santiago, for $8.5 M, but then traded him to Kansas City for Jason Vargas, saving half a million. Vargas comes with some risk, he’s returning from injury, but he is a notch better than Santiago, so that stands as a small pitching upgrade.
I also chose to set Kurt Suzuki free, by not exercising a $6M option, freeing up some money but need to find a new catcher. John Ryan Murphy did not look ready for fulltime action last year
The good news was that I was building around Brian Dozier at 2B, Jorge Polanco at SS, Miguel Sano at 3B, Byron Buxton in CF, Max Kepler in right, and a platoon of Eddie Rosario and Robbie Grossman in left. All of these guys, apart from Dozier, are making less than $1M this year, and all have solid (if not spectacular) futures ahead of them.
This is a hitting corps that caught fire last August, and my hope is that with another season of experience that they will become a top scoring team.
They’ll need to be, because the rotation is full of guys you’d prefer as your No. 4 or 5 guys, apart from Jose Berrios, who I hope will round into a frontline starter this coming season. Vargas, Santana, and Hughes are major league arms, if nothing else. Tommy Milone, our No. 5, can be effective when he can use his excellent curve as an out pitch, but is more of a Quad-A arm. He is dominant in Triple-A, but is exposed in the majors when he loses control of the count.
Once I’d finished arbitration with Brandon Knitzler and Ryan Pressly, I set out to try to improve. The problem was I had only $14M to spend, which pretty much ruled out any starting pitching.
In the end, I replaced Kurt Suzuki at catcher with, um, Kurt Suzuki, saving $4M.
I improved the bullpen, I think, by adding Trevor Rosenthal and Travis Wood, who along with Tyler Duffey—working in relief in a more suitable role—should be able to prop up the rotation.
And I have some solid pitching prospects bubbling under, including Steven Gonsalves and Kohl Stewart, who may be able to contribute later this summer.
This team doesn’t have the world class pitching that the Indians had last year, but it is a team that should be able to compete without that pitching, much as the Indians ended up doing after Salazar and Carrasco went down.
The lesson I learned from all of this isn’t earthshaking. When you have a lot of money tied up in a few not very attractive players, it’s hard to find better players who improve your chances of competing today, and this is a Twins team that needs to start competing now.
|MINNESOTA||MLS thru ’15 season||Updated 9/16||salary + p-r bonus|
|Pos’n||ML Srv||Agent||Length / Total Value||2016||2017|
|1B||Mauer, Joe||1b||12||Ron Shapiro||8 yr/$184M (11-18)||$23,000,000||$23,000,000|
|1B||Vargas, Kennys||1b||0.161||Paul Kinzer||1 yr (16)||$550,000|
|2B||Dozier, Brian||2b||3.1||All Bases Covered, Damon Lapa||4 yr/$20M (15-18)||$3,000,000||$6,000,000|
|3B||Sano, Miguel Jean||rf||0.095||Roc Nation||1 yr/$0.5475M (16)||$547,500||$600,000|
|C||Murphy, John Ryan||c||1.12||ISE Baseball||1 yr/$0.5287M (16)||$528,700||$600,000|
|DH||Park, Byung Ho||dh-1b||0||Octagon||4 yr/$12M (16-19)||$2,750,000||$2,750,000|
|OF||Kepler, Max||RF||0.013||Sosnick Cobbe||1 yr (16)||$600,000|
|OF||Buxton, Byron||cf||0.113||Jet Sports||1 yr/$0.5125M (16)||$512,500||$575,000|
|OF||Rosario, Eddie||lf||0.154||Gavin Kahn||1 yr/$0.5425M (16)||$542,500||$575,000|
|OF||Grossman, Robbie||lf-cf||1.095||Lagardere Sports||1 yr (16)||$550,000|
|P-R||Kintzler, Brandon||rhp||4.026||Kevin Kohler||1 yr (16)||$2,200,000|
|P-R||Pressly, Ryan||rhp||2.053||Landis Baseball||1 yr/$0.52M (16)||$520,000||$1,100,000|
|P-R||May, Trevor||rhp||1.051||Legacy Agency||1 yr/$0.545M (16)||$545,000||$600,000|
|P-R||Boshers, Buddy||lhp||0.051||1 yr (16)||$525,000|
|P-R||Melotakis, Mason||lhp||0||1 yr (16)||$510,000|
|P-S||Santana, Ervin||rhp-s||10.101||Octagon||4 yr/$55M (15-18)+19 opt||$13,500,000||$13,500,000|
|P-S||Hughes, Phil||rhp-s||8.113||CAA Sports||5 yr/$58M (15-19)||$9,200,000||$13,200,000|
|P-S||Vargas, Jason||SP1||1 yr/$5M (16)||$5,000,000||$8,000,000|
|P-S||Milone, Tom||SP2||3.143||Magnus Sports||1 yr/$4.5M (16)||$4,500,000||$4,900,000|
|P-S||Berrios, Jose O.||rhp||0||MDR Sports||1 yr (16)||$550,000|
|SS||Polanco, Jorge||SS||0.011||1 yr (16)||$535,000|
|UT||Santana, Danny||ss||1.111||Octagon||1 yr/$0.5375M (16)||$537,500||$600,000|
|60-Day DL||Glen Perkins||$6,500,000|
|Nolasco, Ricky||portion paid to LA Angels||$4,000,000|
|1||Nick Gordon||SS||No. 2 prospect||2018|
|2||Fernando Romero||RHP||No. 5 prospect||2018|
|3||Kohl Stewart||RHP||No. 4 prospect||2017||midseason|
|4||Steven Gonsalves||LHP||No. 3 prospect||2017||midseason|
|5||Tyler Jay||LHP||No. 1 prospect||2018|
|6||Rogers, Taylor||lhp||0||Frontline||1 yr (16)|
|7||Dean, Pat||lhp||0||1 yr (16)|
|8||Engelb Vielma||INF||No. 16 prospect||2017||great glove|
|9||Beresford, James||2b||0||1 yr (16)|
|10||Mejia, Adalberto||lhp||0||1 yr (16)|
|11||Light, Pat||rhp||0||Jeff Randazzo||1 yr/$0.5075M (16)|
|12||Duffey, Tyler||rhp||0.062||Dishman Sports||1 yr/$0.525M (16)|
|13||Trevor Hildenberger||RHP||No. 18 prospect||2017||middle reliever|
|14||Nick Burdi||RHP||No. 10 prospect||2017|
|15||Tonkin, Michael||rhp||1.005||Wasserman Media||1 yr/$0.515M (16)||$515,000|
|Chargois, J.T.||rhp||0||1 yr (16)|
|Walker, Adam||of||0||1 yr (16)|
|Centeno, Juan||c||0.105||Magnus Sports||1 yr (16)|
|O’Rourke, Ryan||lhp||0.09||1 yr (16)|
|Rosario, Randy||lhp||0||1 yr (16)|
|Strong, Michael||lhp||0||1 yr (16)|
|Albers, Andrew||lhp-s||0.059||True Gravity||1 yr (16)|
|Landa, Yorman||rhp||0||1 yr (16)|
|Wimmers, Alex||rhp||0||1 yr (16)|