There has been a lot of water under the bridge this offseason and it is hard to ignore what has already happened. The signing of Thor at $21 million for 2022 and Loup at 2 years and $17 million makes me believe that the previous payroll goal posts which made up the IIWP game are irrelevant. But I have stated that position previously, and it makes little sense to restate it now. What I did in reaction to it is to take the Thor and Loup signings as done and figure out what to do from here presuming that the payroll limitations were slightly higher – I am giving myself a total of $55 million of which $29.5 million has been spent with the signing of Thor and Loup. That leaves me with around $25.5 million.
I will also say that the signing of Graveman by the White Sox was a blow to my original draft since he was a major target.
Finally, I will say that my main goal going into this offseason was pitching with a capital “P”. My secondary goal was to improve the pitching enough (again pitching) to make a serious run at a Championship in 2022 – I am not waiting until 2023 or beyond. This team has literally been shipwrecked in the middle of the pack (the worst place to be) due to its crappy pitching. I feel the offense is fine – in fact it is really good even without Ohtani presuming key players are healthy. So, to accomplish what I need to do, I felt it was critical to get rid of the anchor that is Justin Upton at $28 million for 2022.
As you will see, that goal led me to what will be a hugely unpopular decision but one that I felt was necessary if payroll was to remain within reason (there was another version where I simply blew the doors off payroll but I think that is unreasonable given Arte’s previous mandates). So, I apologize at the outset to all who will hate me for this but to accomplish what I wanted to do within financial reason, I had to find a way to get rid of Upton’s $28 million so that I can use it for purchasing pitching. As you will see, the only conclusion that I came to was to tie Upton to Ohtani and make a trade. This is an indication of how bad the Angels farm system is as there is really no other way for me to get rid of Upton’s anchor so that I can use that money for pitching.
Gosselin (-1.5 million) and Guerra (-2.0 million).
Now I have $29 million to spend.
A Blockbuster Trade
Angels trade Ohtani, Upton, Rengifo and Adell to the Dodgers and receive Arias, Treinen, Lux, Gaterol and Cartaya in return. Dodgers assume all of Upton’s $28 million for 2022.
This is a slight overpay by the Dodgers per the Trade Simulator but they receive the crown jewel in Ohtani. DH is coming to the NL and Ohtani is a player they know how to market. The Dodgers love getting one over on the Angels and this is one I allow for the immediate improvement to the pitching staff. I also do not think the Angels will be able to afford Ohtani long term so it is giving up on 2 seasons – one of which is likely shortened by the lockout. Its a tough give-up but I am reminded of Ohtani’s pre-2021 year and I satisfy myself (difficult) with the idea that I am trading him at the pinnacle of his trade value.
In return, I have solved most of the Angels pitching problems adding a true Ace in Urias to the starting rotation and Gaterol and Treinen to the relief corp. I also pick up a young stud catcher in Cartaya and a upcoming infielder in Lux.
From a payroll perspective, Urias is not a free agent until 2024 and will make likely make around $5 million in 2022 via arbitration. He becomes the Angels’ ACE. Gaterol will make the Major League minimum ($590,000 and is not a free agent for at least 4 seasons), Treinen is under contract for two more seasons and is scheduled to make $8 million (a value for his quality). Diego Cartaya is the Angels catcher of the future and he starts the season in the minors. He becomes a top-5 prospect on the Farm almost immediately. Lux is a young stud at 2B and is making the major league minimum ($590,000) for several more seasons.
I move Fletch to shortstop and Lux will play 2nd.
The Angels save Ohtani’s $8.5 million and Upton’s $28 million. Both Rengifo and Adell make the major league minimum.
Overall savings is $23 million which I will utilize as discussed below. The bottom line is I needed to get rid of Upton to do what I need to do to improve the pitching enough to make a run in 2023. It was PAINFUL to do it but I realized the only chance I had was to tie Upton to Ohtani and trade one of my favorite players when his trade value was highest.
I now have $52 million to spend.
Sign Raisel Iglesias – 4 years $48 million
To me Raisel is a key piece of the Championship puzzle. No team goes deep in the playoffs (much less makes them) without a legit closer. I give him the extra year to get the deal done. We defer some of the deal to later seasons and put $11 million onto 2022.
Sign Marcus Stroman – 5 years $115 million
Stroman fits nicely in as a #2 or #3 on this staff. Some of the money is deferred and $18 million is paid in 2022.
Sign 3B/Shorstop Matt Duffy – 2 year and $2 million
Duffy will be a bench piece.
Sign Eddie Rosario or Joe Pederson – 2 year and $16 million
Eddie or Joe should fit in nicely into left or right field. This is an $8 million per year for 2 years deal.
Sign Nelson Cruz – 1 year $12 Million
This should take care of some of the lost power by trading Ohtani. And it gets rid of Angel killer Cruz from some other team.
There is still around $2 million left which can be used for a utility player or, more likely, a backup catcher.
Starting Pitching Looks Like This:
(1) Urias, (2) Stroman, (3) Thor, (4) Sandoval and (5) Jose Suarez
Starting pitching depth includes Griffin Canning and Reid Detmers
This looks pretty dominant to me.
Relief Pitching Looks Like This
Blake Treinen, Brusdar Gaterol, Michael Mayers, Austin Warren, Jansen Junk, Aaron Loup, Raisel Iglesias
Can you say ROCK solid?
Lineup looks like this (generally)
- Marsh (CF)
- Trout (LF)
- Rendon (3B)
- Walsh (1B)
- Rosario or Pederson (RF)
- Cruz (DH)
- Lux (2B)
- Stassi (C)
- Fletcher (SS)
Somewhat less fun than with Ohtani but still a solid SOLID lineup to go with the great pitching.
Trading a generational talent like Ohtani was a painful PAINFUL decision for me but I deal with it by realizing it is less likely that he will have a repeat of his MVP 2021 than it is likely. It was the only realistic way to get rid of Upton and have someone pay his entire salary. Trading Ohtani to the Dodgers was particularly painful but will be less so when the Angels make the playoffs and potentially win the World Series.
The resulting team is arguably a bit less fun without Ohtani but is way more balanced between pitching and offense. The team is built to win games which I would expect it to do to the tune of 92-96. Then in the playoffs, the rotation could be nothing short of dominant, particularly if Thor is as good as I think he will be (motivated, new arm, ready to go!)
Also, importantly, the team has more payroll flexibility in 2023 and going forward.
I am certain the trading of Ohtani will be unpopular to the point of pitchforks, but I am hopeful that the greater good of addressing both short term and long term needs (including obtaining an incredible young catcher) soften the blow.