My offseason priorities:
- Well, yeah, starting pitching and an infielder.
- Depth and flexibility.
- An outfielder.
- Stop hating our bullpen.
Let’s face it. Bauer is probably not signing here. If he does, great, it means Arte probably plans to blow by the Luxury Tax for at least a year. But since the point of this exercise isn’t pure wish fulfillment I am working under the assumption that with Bauer, Stroman and Gaussman off the market there aren’t really any FA starters that get me excited. We also have other holes to fill. So, here’s what I would try….
Non-tender Hansel Robles, Noé Ramirez, Justin Anderson, Keynan Middleton, Felix Péna, Matt Andriese, Franklin Barreto (Saves 9.2 million)
This gives me about 35.5 million to spend. I will have to subtract Schebler’s 900 K from this as I go.
TRADE: Joe Adell, Jaime Barria, Oliver Ortega and Jahmai Jones to the Royals for Jake Junis, Brad Keller, Tyler Zuber and Nick Dini.
This may look like an overpay. To fix that you have to have some sense of what the Pirates have been asking for Joe Musgrove. In this trade we are taking 2 starters from the Royals, who plan to use a lot of innings looking at their top pitching prospects. Still, you have to pay for all that pitching. Thus Adell. Barria replaces one of their starters at a cheap rate. They also need a 2B option, so Jones, plus Ortega who has the potential to be a near future starter or can at least replace Zuber.
Keller stacks up OK with Musgrove and with our defense and Marine layer he may be better. Junis can eat innings and, with some work with Callaway, may actually turn into a pretty effective mid rotation arm. He is just at the point in his career where that kind of thing happens. Keller and Junis are controllable through 2024 and add 2.85 and 1.3 million dollars to the payroll.
Zuber is a guy who can strike out 12 per 9. Maybe more. If we can harness him he will be a very effective pen piece. The Royals have their franchise icon at catcher and their top prospect is likely starting at A advanced or AA this year. Nick Dini is going on his 6th year as MiLB depth at Omaha. He can hit a little, catches OK and no one is writing home about his ability to throw out runners but he’s a AAA catcher that can help us if needed. Zuber will cost 800K for the season.
Incidentally, I would also make a similar trade to this one for Joe Musgrove and Steven Brault and some spare parts from the Pirates.
Sign Freddy Galvis, SS (Two years/9M)
He’s not Simmons, nor Semein, but 2019 aside he’s about 75% of Semein at 30% the probable cost. Plus, if we do go out and get a SS next winter Galvis has played around the IF and even OF in the past so he’d still have some use in year two. This also allows us to use Fletcher at 2B. With Rendon and Fletcher at his sides Galvis will get the job done in the field and with OK line up protection he will probably have a 90s OPS+. He’s also a scrappy veteran on a team that can use more of that. Fletcher, Galvis, Ward and Rengifo give us fairly steady infield depth so I can stop heavy night sweats over seeing the Featherstone era again. He’s getting 2 years because there are NOT actually a ton of SS options out there.
Sign Kurt Suzuki, C (Two years/8M)
He may be old, but he can still catch. He still hits pretty well. He’s still durable. He is a leader. Pitchers like him. Paired with a Max Stassi who is even partially the player he was in 2020 we’d have a solid catching core that isn’t a black hole in the line up. If any current catcher is going to be able to still catch 70 games at age 39 in 2022 it’s Kurt. Paired with Galvis, Rendon and Fletcher we will also have an IF with a strong head on its shoulders.
Sign Trevor May, RHRP (Three years, 21M), Sign Tony Watson, LHRP (Two years, 7M), Sign Alex Colome RHRP (Three years, 21M)
I am sick to death of watching our bullpen blow leads or nibble away at hitters failing to get out number 3. These three guys are great relief pitchers. They generally don’t walk 2 guys per appearance either. That’s going to be great. May, Buttrey, Mayers and Zuber will torch a lot of hitters while Sandoval, Watson, and Colome pitch into outs. That’s a healthy mix and also provides 4 pitchers with leverage innings experience. I think a big added value will be their influence on other arms I like in our pen like Buttrey and Mayers.
I know these guys are all over 30 years old, but I like that. I just can’t watch another 25 year old look confused as he fails to throw strike three or floats a heater over the heart of the plate any more. May and Colome will be 34 when these contracts run out. Watson is 38 but isn’t a fire baller, neither is Colome. All of these guys are proven and durable, we don’t have to wonder if they are all sizzle as may be the case with an FA like Hendricks.
It’s been 20 years since we’ve had one so most of us probably forget how good it feels knowing that having a SP like Kevin Appier is OK if you have a lock down pen behind him. I think that with these guys we have the arms and experience to pull that off. Can’t find a starter to spend 18M a year on? Then get 120 innings of lock down pen innings instead.
Sign Scott Schebler, OF (900K)
We got what we would have had from Robbie Grossman at what will probably be 1/3 the cost. This move was already made, but I wanted it back when he was let go by the Braves. As a former Brave if Scheb’s shoulder is toast it is likely Minasian would know that. Scheb can play all 3 OF positions if needed and provides the same offense as Brian Goodwin and may even be able to match Kole’s better years if he gets hot. Not a bad bottom of the order pick up, his career OPS+ is 2 points lower than my earlier preference, Grossman.
Sign Nick Ramirez (LHRP) (650K)
He’s left handed. He has pretty good career splits. He’s a reliever who is left handed. He’s from Katella High School. He’s left handed. If he keeps his walks under control he’s actually pretty effective. Send him to Salt Lake for depth. Is this the move that wins us the World Series? Probably not, but if we need to move Sandoval to the rotation he provides depth. He also may turn out to be good.
- David Fletcher, 2B
- Mike Trout, CF
- Anthony Rendon, 3B
- Jared Walsh,1B
- Justin Upton, LF
- Shohei Ohtani, DH
- Freddy Galvis SS
- Kurt Suzuki, C (2/8M)
- Scott Schebler, RF
- Max Stassi, C
- Albert Pujols, 1B/DH
- Taylor Ward, IF/OF
- Luis Rengifo, IF
- Dylan Bundy, RHP
- Brad Keller RHP
- Andrew Heaney, LHP
- Griffin Canning, RHP
- Jakob Junis RHP
- Shohei Ohtani RHP
- Mike Mayers, RHP
- Tony Watson LHP
- Ty Buttrey, RHP
- Tyler Zuber RHP
- Patrick Sandoval, LHP
- Trevor May RHP
- Alex Colome RHP
All told I spent 33.5 million of the 35.5 I think I would have. This roster will have six solid yet unspectacular starting pitchers all of whom have the potential to “pull a Bundy” this next season but none of whom seem likely to just out and out suck. The bullpen will be far more reliable than it has been in the past and could be truly elite without plowing all of our funds into a single “closer”. Obviously I want to rip off the Rays this way, using variety and consistency over big names. But this is a staff I think can pick up slack for each other, hold leads, and keep games close enough for our big bats to help us. All of our pitchers accept Heaney will also have a fair number of years of control left, with Detmers and Naughten able to provide back up later in the year.
The infield of Galvis, Rendon, Walsh, Fletcher and Suzuki/Stassi isn’t on par with the Dodgers or Padres but it will not suffer from any real weak points either in the line up and will hold it’s own defensively. Trout’s gonna Trout. If Ohtani and Upton remember who they are our line up will be fairly hard to deal with. Ward, Rengifo and Pujols are actually a far cry from the Pennington era benches we have had in the past.
Honestly, I am trying to be the A’s here. A no name bullpen that’s good. A couple star players. A rotation that is vanilla but does no harm and doesn’t let teams get away. A line up that can always bite you for some runs and a roster with positional versatility. Ward, Fletcher, Rengifo, Walsh, Schebler and Galvis can all move around the field a little if need be. Maddon is our manager after all.
Am I confident this team can win it all? Nope. But it will be far more solid than past teams. We have some long term help both in the rotation and the pen, and we didn’t add any huge payroll anchors that will prevent big spending when Pujols and Upton get off the books. Another thing we added is something we sometimes mock, and I personally hate using as a reason for losing instead of a result of losing: Veteran grit and chemistry. Those pen arms plus Galvis and Suzuki added to Trout, Rendon and Fletcher (and yes, Albert) will add some cool heads to mix with our younger pitchers and Walsh/Marsh/Ward. Plus, this team really could give the rest of the AL a solid fight if most of these players are their better selves next year and Junis/Ohtani/Canning/Heaney take a big step forward. We also kept most of our prospects. That’s about all I can hope to get for 35.5M in this FA market.