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.
The Angels need help. And the help’s not coming from their minor league system, which is in the bottom third in the league and closer to 30th than 21st. Like the Mets, you’d figure that the Angels could run one of the top payrolls in the game. For this simulation they had $158 million, which is certainly a solid amount, but dwarfed by the $255 million that the Dodgers had at their disposal. So, we’ve got a sub-.500 team with a poor farm system and a payroll that doesn’t allow them to outspend their mistakes.
But it’s not all bleak. The best news was that C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver and their combined $40.7 million came off the books. And there’s still that Mike Trout guy in the outfield, even if his salary is no longer cheap.
With no prospects worth trading and not much in the way of attractive trade chits at the major league level, my strategy was to use my ability to absorb payroll to shore up both the major and minor league roster. My goals were to find a veteran SP, a starting catcher, a left fielder and to add prospects to the mix.
Knowing the Mets were going to look to free up money to go after Yoenis Cespedes, I approached them about Curtis Granderson and Travis d’Arnaud. Granderson has played in at least 150 games the past three years and while prone to streaks, has been very effective. From May 21 to the end of the season, he had an .843 OPS last year. d’Arnaud is more of a gamble, but at his $1.7 million salary, not a huge one. And with two solid backup catchers on the roster, the team won’t be crippled if d’Arnaud lands on the DL again for an extended trip.
Next up was the Cubs, who were looking for bullpen help. In return for picking up the majority of Huston Street’s salary, we were able to help bolster the farm system with the acquisition of 2B Ian Happ, the ninth overall pick of the 2015 Draft. MLB Pipeline ranked him as the Cubs’ top prospect and the 21st-best one in the majors.
The trade left a hole at closer but my philosophy is that in the Angels’ position, a top prospect was far more valuable than a run-of-the-mill closer.
The Rays approached me about C.J. Cron. We talked about him for multiple days and made numerous trade proposals. My preference was to keep him but with the Rays willing to pay full market value, we were able to come to an agreement. In exchange for Cron, the Angels received prospects Brent Honeywell and Jaime Schultz and outfielder Corey Dickerson. Simultaneously, the Angels sent Schultz to the Blue Jays for Francisco Liriano. It’s a move that comes with plenty of risk, as Liriano suffered a concussion during the playoffs, after being hit with a line drive in the neck. But hopefully an offseason of rest will allow him to come back at full health.
After reviving his career with the Pirates starting in 2013, Liriano struggled the first half of 2016 with Pittsburgh. But after being acquired by Toronto, he posted a 2.92 ERA with a 3.25 K/BB ratio in 10 regular season games with the Blue Jays. If Liriano can repeat those numbers over a full season, he’ll be a strong addition to the team.
While the Liriano addition was a key pickup, the addition of Honeywell was just as important. The Rays’ number-two prospect according to MLB Pipeline, and 39th overall in MLB, the righty Honeywell has a full repertoire, including a screwball. He has excellent control – just 25 BB in 115.1 IP last year – and after a mid-season promotion to Double-A, the 21-year-old Honeywell posted a 2.28 ERA in 10 Southern League starts.
My goals were all accomplished but at the price of creating problems in the bullpen and the infield.
Pujols spent most of last year as the DH, as he battled foot problems. The hope is that he can play first base on a regular basis in 2017. Yunel Escobar is slated to play 2B while Jefry Marte will move in from the outfield to man 3B. Kelly Johnson was signed as a free agent to back up both spots and will also get some time at DH. Andrelton Simmons will be the only holdover in the same spot, as the defensive wizard will anchor things at short. Cliff Pennington and Kaleb Cowart are the backups.
The presence of Trout in center will allow Granderson to play left field, where his arm best fits. Kole Calhoun will be in right and Dickerson will be the primary OF reserve, with both Johnson and Marte able to play an outfield corner if needed. Old pal Peter Bourjos returns on an NRI.
Liriano headlines the rotation, with last year’s mid-season acquisition Ricky Nolasco slotting in as the second starter. Garrett Richards and Matt Shoemaker look to return from injury-shortened years and figure to hold down the next two spots. The fifth starter will be a competition between Tyler Skaggs, also coming back from an injury, and Alex Meyer, acquired along with Nolasco, with the loser moving to the bullpen and first in line when one of the starters go down. Old pal Wilson was brought back on an NRI.
The bullpen won’t make anyone forget what the Yankees started with in 2016. Andrew Bailey was re-signed as a free agent and will compete with Cam Bedrosian to be the team’s closer. The rest of the pen will be guys who were there last year, although Junichi Tazawa was brought in on an NRI to compete for a spot.
If every single thing broke right, this club could compete for the playoffs. But we know that won’t happen, especially with so many pitchers returning from injury. However, a .500 record is not out of the question. The major league team seems improved from a year ago but the key was adding two top 40 prospects to the mix. That probably won’t mean a lot to the 2017 club. But they could help by 2018 and the Angels will be free of the Josh Hamilton commitment by then.
And maybe the owner can add a few dollars to the payroll, too.
|Position||Player||Salary||NRIs||Minors||Other Financial Info|
|SP||R. Nolasco||12||Bourjos||Happ||Receive $4 million from|
|SP||G. Richards||7||Tazawa||Honeywell||Texas for J. Hamilton|
|SP||T. Skaggs||0.53||Receive $2 million from|
|SP||F. Liriano||13.667||Minnesota for R. Nolasco|
|RP||M. Morin||0.53||Pay $7 million to|
|RP||J. Alvarez||0.525||Chicago for H. Street|
|157.975||Budget – $158|