Welcome back to the SB Nation off-season simulation with President Hatfield and VP D-Russ.
On Tuesday, we blew up the Rays.
In all honesty, the version of the Rays we had by the end of day on Monday was not terrible. Mark Trumbo and Yonder Alonso were in to replace IRL players James Loney and Logan Morrison (who was not acquired in the simulation). All we needed was to touch up the bullpen...
But that was boring.
After tiring of dealing with the Cubs in our search to upgrade left field, we decided to take one of our untouchables and put him on the trade block:
As you would expect, a flurry of offers came in, but one in particular stood out among the rest.
Using the MLB.com rankings, the proposed deal sent us the No. 13, 25, and 40 prospects in baseball, as well as the most coveted Cuban prospect of 2014.
You're not gonna like it, but in the simulation world where a day is two months of action, that deal would taunt us until we couldn't help but push the big red button.
Why let fine be fine? Realism is boring. On to our moves, in the order they were performed.
Tampa Bay non-tenders Rene Rivera, JP Arencibia, Daniel Nava, Brandon Gomes
As seen above, President Hatfield was more content to roll with Casali at back up, which concluded our exchange on who to cut at the non-tender deadline.
Rivera, after his abysmal season at the plate, was a goner. Nava was allowed to spread his wings. Arencibia would be invited back on a minor league deal. Brandon Gomes was simply too expensive for our taste, set to make about $900k next season.
We re-allocated that money, still thinking our money would be tight to a self-inflicted $70M goal, by signing a former closer instead.
Tampa Bay signs Steve Cishek to a 1 year $2 million deal
This is less than half of his previous salary, and we tried to preempt the market by nabbing a relief arm that had chatter behind him.
What we could not predict is that several similar relief pitchers would be left out to dry by the end of day, and we hope you like who accepted minor league deals.
I'll get to those number soon enough. Alas, Cishek was ours early on, and that came with a cost.
Tampa Bay signs Aubrey Huff to a minor league deal.
Our sudden feel good story of the off-season is the former Rays legend returning from a three year bout with depression to try baseball one more time at age-39.
Read the full story here. The man wants to be a Ray again. We are thrilled to invite him to Spring Training.
Now comes the fun part.
We finalized the Evan Longoria trade at 3:30 EST, but there were finances flying about that needed cleared by the commish. Our following moves were perplexing for the rest of the simulation, which was a but fun to watch. Several panicked e-mails came our way asking what was going on. Dynamite was the best answer...
Tampa Bay acquires R.A. Dickey, Jon Harris, Max Pentecost, Mitch Nay, $5 million from Toronto for Drew Smyly, Desmond Jennings
When we floated about trading Smyly and Jennings, who we considered to be injury risks, several teams wanted Smyly but only one wanted Jennings. Packaging them both was a matter of getting the best return, because there were plenty of arms the Fake-Rays would have at their disposal by 2017, or even mid-season of the coming year. Paxton was already under team control, Snell is on the rise, and two more top arms were coming into the system shortly.
But Dickey was a necessary return if Smyly was dropped from the rotation. The Rays have the dome and can smartly organize the rotation to keep Dickey off the road and the knuckleball in full form. It felt like a worthwhile experiment to let the 41-year old have his last go in a great situation. His salary of $12m would be offset by the incoming $5m.
In the package was a few fun prospects. RHP Jonathan Harris ranks No. 80 on MLB's top-100 prospects, one slot behind SS Daniel Robertson. He's a bit far off, maybe premiering after Brent Honeywell in the order of starters coming through the system, but a great arm riding 94, anda curve, slider, and change each grading 55 on the scouting scale.
C Max Pentacost is a hyper athletic bundle of opportunity, No. 4 in the Toronto system overall, and looks like he'll really be able to hit one day. 3B Mitch Nay has been labeled a grinder, and has baseball bloodlines. He's still in A-ball in his 20's but might break out along the way.
Moving Jennings to get those two prospects felt worthwhile, but moving Jennings wasn't just a matter of deferring risk in his faulty knees. There was the Longoria return to consider, but first another move was solidified.
Tampa Bay signs Juan Uribe to a 2 year $12 million deal
Coming off seasons of 5.0, 3.6, and 1.9 WAR contributions, Uribe is most definitely a place holder at third base. Age-36 may not treat him kindly, but he's a quality clubhouse presence with a salary we backloaded for a move, should the opportunity arise.
Does this mean we don't believe in Richie Shaffer? Kind of! In the simulation world we're not convinced he's ready to start at the big league level. If he breaks out and is ready to take over at third base, Uribe should be easy enough to move. He was traded three times in 2015.
Now on to the good stuff.
Boston acquires Evan Longoria from Tampa Bay for Rafael Devers, Manny Margot, Brian Johnson, Rusney Castillo, and $30 million
This is a trade you either love or hate. Longoria is still a gold glove third baseman, and in real life we have no desire for him to be traded. We hope he is in a Rays jersey for life, his number retired on the wall. But this was the best return we could find on the open market, and we took it.
The result was a bevy of top prospects, including Longoria's presumable replacement in Devers, loading the Tampa Bay farm system with nine of the Top-100 prospects in baseball:
|13||3B Rafael Devers||60||2018|
|25||OF Manuel Margot||55||2017|
|37||SS Willy Adames||55||2018|
|40||LHP Brian Johnson||55||2016|
|41||LHP Blake Snell||55||2016|
|48||RHP Brent Honeywell||55||2017|
|68||OF Garrett Whitley||55||2019|
|79||SS Daniel Robertson||55||2016|
|80||RHP Jonathan Harris||55||2018|
Of course those three are balanced by former top-Cuban prospect Rusney Castillo. With Boston willing to eat $30M of his $56.5M salary due, our Fake-Rays were only on the hook for $5M per year, with $6.5M owed in the final season of his contract (2020).
A year removed from a 112 wRC+ projection and coming off an injury filled season, it's hard to know just how great Rusney will be. We rolled the dice on what could be an incredible bat, but what will at least be a plus defender in any outfield slot.
Atlanta acquires James Loney, Enny Romero, and David Rodriguez from Tampa Bay for Andrew McKirahan and Carlos Salazar
The Braves were looking for prospects and willing to absorb salary. With James Paxton in the bullpen as the lefty swingman, Romero was expendable and the Atlanta office liked him a lot. This was our chance to move James Loney, and it was easy to say yes with Mark Trumbo on the roster.
LHP Andrew McKirahan is the actual exchange in relief depth. A product of the Rule 5 draft who also faced a PED suspension, his fastball and slider combo are a better look and more dedicated to the bullpen than Romero was for our roster. He goes to Triple-A.
C David Rodirguez is far off and not in our sites for near-roster impact, and he was flipped for low minors 97 mph flamethrower RHP Carlos Salazar, an exciting arm to say the least.
Tampa Bay signs Jason Motte, JP Arencibia and Sean Marshall to minor league deals
Jason Motte accepted a minor league deal to try and force his way into the Rays bullpen, and we couldn't be more appreciative. A year removed from a $4.5m salary and 3.61 FIP -- as compared to Cishek's $6.6m salary and 3.86 FIP -- you would have thought he wanted more of a guarantee, but injury concerns are your friend.
Speaking of which: joining the Jonny Venters and Jerry Blevins injury rehab crew is Sean Marshall, who did not pitch in 2015.
Here's the major league roster as it stands:
|RF||Steven Souza Jr.||$507,500|
|ML||Xavier Cedeno (L)||$507,500|
|ML||Andrew McKirahan (L)||$507,500|
|LM||James Paxton (L)||$507,500|
|Other||Alex Cobb (DL)||$4,000,000|
|Other||Burch Smith (DL)||$507,500|
Last minute deals and spring training invites are all that's left. We'll be back with final results tomorrow, and possibly some analysis of just how much worst the Fake-Rays are this year!