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 Brian Kobil
This is my second year being assigned the Cleveland Indians as part of the GM project. And this second year has given me a better perspective on a very good major league roster.
Like last year, my first step was to decide who I was and was not keeping on the roster. I declined club options on Michael Brantley and Boone Logan, making both free agents. While Brantley has had some good moments in the outfield and at the plate, his injury history and salary made him a poor risk going forward.
Once trading began, I sought to replace Brantley in the outfield by trading from an area of strength – starting pitching. I sent starting pitcher Danny Salazar to San Diego for young center fielder Manuel Margot. Salazar is a fine pitcher but has a history of injuries and, as we saw in the real-world playoffs, he barely saw the mound behind Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer (who I traded in last year’s GM project, but whatever – they can’t all be winners).
I also had to fill a hole at first base, after letting Carlos Santana leave via free agency. I pursued several options, and rather than spending a ton of free agent money on a first baseman, I traded arbitration-eligible reliever Dan Otero to Toronto for first baseman Justin Smoak.
My starting lineup was basically set at this point. I tried to tinker on the edges here and there – including my annual Yan Gomes/Roberto Perez sweepstakes – but didn’t feel the need to blow up a likely playoff team.
Next came free agency, which again required more filling in at the edges than making wholesale changes. I signed Anibal Sanchez to take Salazar’s spot in the rotation for $3 million. While Sanchez’s best days are likely behind him, I thought he was worth a low-cost gamble for the back end of the rotation. To replace Otero in the bullpen, I signed Jerry Blevins for $4 million. A bit of an overpay, but he fits nicely with Mike Clevinger, Andrew Miller, and Cody Allen.
When it came time for NRIs, I nabbed Jon Jay for the bench. He is also a more-than-capable backup plan in case either Margot or Bradley Zimmer run into problems in center field or left field, respectively.
In the end, I kept the essential parts of this contending team together, stayed under my $125 million budget, and filled the few holes on this team after the 2017 season.
Francisco Lindor SS
Jason Kipnis 2B
Jose Ramirez 3B
Edwin Encarnacion DH
Justin Smoak 1B
Lonnie Chisenhall RF
Bradley Zimmer LF
Yan Gomes C
Manuel Margot CF
Roberto Perez C
Brandon Guyer OF/IF
Jon Jay OF
Abraham Almonte OF
Tyler Naquin OF