- Starting Pitching with upside
- Bullpen help with experience and a potential closer
- A starting middle infielder
- Shoring up the catching
Keynan Middleton at $900M, Hansel Robles at $3.9MM and Justin Anderson at $700M. That frees up an additional $5.5MM beyond the $26MM I had to work with. That gives me $31.5 to work with in AAV.
I want one guy who can deliver innings, and one guy who can provide upside (ala Dylan Bundy). I know I am not going to get the real high priced guy in Bauer, so I need a couple of 10 win guys if possible.
- Chris Archer- I know he had a down year, but he also had some really good years working for a manager named Joe Madden. Archer is coming off of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery and as such has injury risk. I think he will want multiple years at a lower AAV so I am going to offer 2 years at $8MM. I may not get a $4MM value in year one, but I should get more than that in year two. He is my upside/bounceback guy because he has done it very well in the past under Joe.
- J.A. Happ- he got the short end of the stick with the Yankees throttling him this past year so they wouldn’t have to pick up the option year. He isn’t worth $10MM but his numbers add up to a solid 3 or 4 starter. I offer him $6MM for a year, with reachable incentives that give him a player option for the 2nd year at an additional $6MM. This guy is steady and will give me 150-160 innings even though he is getting a bit older.
Major League Baseball is no longer a Starting Pitcher’s game. The bullpen needs to be strong, and we are not. There are always failures, so I am looking at volume from proven guys to make up for it. I expect two of these to do well, and one to be wasted money (like we usually end up with).
- Get the big dog closer by spending $7.5MM for Brad Hand. This is the most consistent and proven closer available in my mind. He has done nothing but good things since he got his opportunity. If he wants a second year I again give him the opportunity to have a player option for a second year at the same price if he gets 25 saves. He probably turns the second year down if he does, but 25 saves would come in handy for us in the meantime. Big contracts for relief pitchers and going to be few and far between this winter, but he is worth this amount.
- Darren O’Day- I didn’t understand why they let him go the first time but this guy has proven himself year after year. Give him $2.5MM, which won’t be much of a pay cut from last year compared to what a lot of free agents are going to be facing. Perry knows him so he should have a relationship established. I have always liked having the alternative delivery like Joe Smith and O’Day provided for us in the past.
- Greg Holland/Mark Melancon- whoever agrees to come on board first $4MM gets this money. I would offer 2 years to Holland at this amount, but only one year to Melancon. Holland and Melancon have both been closers in the past, but I would rather trust that role to Hand.
I get that there are a lot of middle infielders available so the prices should be down, but I want a guy that I know can be a starter. I would really prefer to have Simba back, but MLBTR has his expected price being too high so it is time to move on. One guy that we have coveted in the past is Cesar Hernandez. He is only going to be league average in practically every way, but that is better than what I think we have in Luis Rengifo or Franklin Barreto. One of them can continue as our utility infielder, but I would not want them to be even a 60% starter. Hernandez is declining in value as he gets a little older and he loses a bit of value by not stealing the bases he used to get, so he is going to have a tough time landing a really nice contract. I offer him $4MM for a year. My backup plan is Jonathan Schoop, but I don’t like his defense.
This is where I veer off the Free Agent wagon. I think we need to make a trade to land Austin Hedges from the Indians. I think we have Max Stassi as an offensive minded catcher now and would like to pair him with a defense first catcher. Hedges is not going to hit, but if he can help our pitching with his superior defense I am willing to make that sacrifice, especially if I can use Stassi when I do need that offense. He is supposedly a potential non-tender candidate so he should be available. If he is non-tendered I would offer him $5MM for 2 years. Otherwise we have to pick up his contract at $3Mm which is still within my budget by sending them someone like Trent Deveaux. Anthony Benboom can be my third wheel as there is always somebody hurting when playing his position. No, I don’t want Jeff Mathis back and I do realize Hedges has about the same offensive firepower.
I have a few bucks left over in case I need to up one of these offers by $500M, but I think we are looking at a buyer’s market this offseason. I got two starting pitchers for the next year or two, but I get Albert’s money in my budget next year so I can go hard then. There isn’t enough value in this year’s market to go too heavy to get an Tanaka/Odorizzi or another $15MM a year potential flop. I am OK with Heaney, Bundy, Canning plus my two and the fringe guys that we already have. I don’t want to give up either Marsh or Adell to land a “potential” pitcher so I have to wait that one out. I need one of them to show me that I don’t need the other. I am looking for upgrades around the edges, not any big splashes so I need Upton and whoever (Adell, Marsh, Ward) lands in RF to produce but offense isn’t the problem. If Shohei has arm trouble again next year I start looking to prepare him to play some OF or 1B so I can make the DH position available to others in the future.