When I opened up the Off-season Suggestion Box for our community to inform the Rays of the "moves" they should make this winter, I'm not sure what I expected. No less than thirteen people suggested the Rays "move" to Montreal, and four people wanted to trade Longoria, and there were plenty of other confounding ideas.
As I threatened to do, I have a personal "reasonableness" test I've decided to invoke on all the ideas herein. While it would have been fun to trade Souza for Schwarber, that's a nonsensical proposal, and most people actually tried. It's not fair to their submissions or my time to let this article get shipwrecked by impossible ideas.
It was clear some people were submitting ideas they found in the comment section. If you're gonna rip someone's idea, at least dress it up differently. Some of the submission were copy/paste's from Andersbot, which means you the reader were lazy and should be ashamed of yourself. Some were also were repetitive submissions of bad ideas, like trading Rene Rivera for Blake Swihart, which... good lord. Anyway, if I caught a cheat, it's removed.
Last caveat: some of you submitted only vague ideas I could not use. "Trade Archer" or "Trade Jennings" are not full thoughts, and were removed from the exercise. In total we received more than 100 submissions, but by the time I parsed out the snark it's something like 45.
On to the moves. Let's dial up the random number generator and see what comes about.
Trade Karns for Brad Miller and maybe a lottery ticket or two
Ok. we need to talk about this. Randy the random number generator in excel spit this trade out at the top, which is fitting as this might be as real as it gets. This idea was submitted at the following time stamp:
11/5/2015 3:57:27 PM
"Trade Karns for Brad Miller" is exactly what the Rays did, five hours later.
To whoever it was that submitted this trade idea, I tip my cap. Let's assume it was Silverman himself, and that this deal took place in the suggestion box as it did in real life:
RHP Nathan Karns, OF Boog Powell, and LHP C.J. Riefenhauser for SS Brad Miller, 1B/OF Logan Morrison, and RHP Danny Farquhar
"McGhee for Plawecki and Robles"
Dammit. That's not even how you spell McGee, but this is what we're working with.
This trade sends Jake McGee, whose value may not be a far cry from present-day Craig Kimbrel, to the Mets for C Kevin Plawecki and RHRP Hansel Robles. That's plenty of team control, both players only just reached the majors in 2015, so it's easy to see the plug-and-play appeal.
Robles pitched 54.0 innings over 57 games in the regular season and jad trouble leaving guys on base in his rookie year, but still turned in a 3.67 ERA and 3.91 FIP with a 28.1% strikeout rate and .188 BAA. His troubles came from walks (8.3%) and longballs (8 allowed). He should get better results over time, though the walks are a problem.
Plawecki is also a tempting get, his framing run rate ranked him 8th in baseball, according to B-Pro's leaderboard, and he has a history of offense in the minors:
I'm pretty ok with this trade, because it's focus relies on known commodities. Plawecki may never hit, and Robles may have his deadarm return that shelved his 2014 season, but McGee could be just as much of an injury risk and is getting expensive.
"Rays trade Brandon Guyer, Matt Andriese and 2016 Competitve Balance Round B Draft Pick to A's for Josh Reddick"
This submission came with its own explanation, so I'll let them speak for themselves.
A left-handed power bat is probably the biggest need for the Rays at the moment. Reddick is entering his last year of arbitration before likely leaving the A's as a free agent. Brandon Guyer is entering his first year of arbitration and will have 3 seasons of team control left for the Rays.
Matt Andriese could be a potential number 4/5 starter or could be an effective reliever. 3 years of Guyer + Andriese+ draft pick for 1-year of Reddick plus the possibility of a comp pick after he leaves for free agency after the 2016 season. If Rays don't contend in 2016 then you can deal Reddick at the deadline and get back the value (or close to it) that you traded for him. Rays can replace Guyer with Mahtook.
Personally I think selling high on Guyer is the right thing to do considering all the RH OF's the Rays currently have right now plus I see Guyer facing some regression in 2016. While the draft is essential to the Rays as a way to supply talent into the organization, I'd rather deal a draft pick that was basically just handed to us then an actual prospect that already exists in the farm system. The Rays still own a draft pick in every round after trading the bonus pick. There is risk to this move of course but I think it could pay huge dividends.
I'm not so sure about the draft pick business, but I'll allow it.
"Offer Daniel Nava arbitration."
Three team trade with Giants, Athletics
Rays get: C Josh Phegley, 1B Brandon Belt, RHP Cody Hall, RHP Evan Scribner, RHP Ray Black
Giants get: OF Desmond Jennings, 1B James Loney, RHP German Marquez, RHP Dylan Covey
Athletics get: RHP Brad Boxberger, OF Tyler Goeddel, C Rene Rivera, $.5 million (covers Boxberger's salary)
Now this one is just interesting, although I don't see the incentives for the Giants to be on board here. Another explanation from the submission:
Broken down roughly, its works out as: first Phegley and Scribner for Boxberger and Goeddel and Rivera for Covey, then Jennings and Covey for Belt and Hall and Loney and Marquez for Law/Black.
Athletics get a much needed addition to their bullpen, a catcher to replace Phegley as Vogt's defensive backup until Nottingham is ready, and an outfield prospect for the future.
The Rays get a young, controlled catcher to pair with Casali, a starting 1st baseman for 2016, clear out the 40-man roster and Rule 5 eligibles some, save $10 million, and get 2 high-upside relief prospects and a solid reclamation project for depth.
Giants get a new left-fielder for relatively cheap, and 2 good starting pitching prospects as compensation for weakening their infield some.
So we ditched Loney and Jennings and Rivera, but also lost Boxberger and Marquez.
Schwarber attempt 1
Rays get: Kyle Schwarber, OF/1B, Jefferson Mejia RHP
Cubs get: Nathan Karns RHP, Taylor Gueirrei RHP, Brandon Guyer OF, Desmond Jennings OF
No Karns, Guyer or Jennings to sell! Sorry.
"C Rene Rivera and PTBNL to Atlanta Braves for RHP Daniel Winkler"
Another submission with its own explanation, unfortunately we already traded Rivera!
Braves need a catcher since they lose Pierzynski, and Rivera can platoon with Bethancourt if they keep him on the ML roster.
Rays get a gamble with Winkler, but he has shown promising stuff in the minors, and would pitch in the bullpen, with the possibility of starting a few games in place for an injured starter. He has been used as a starter in the minors, and has shown very impressive stats the past two seasons.
Winkler does walk players, and didn't do so well in his first two appearances in the bullpen this year (a 10.80 ERA), but there's no overshadowing what he did in the minors. Still, coming off Tommy John and missing 2015, aside from the two games this year, he could be a good risk to take.
Winkler is a Rule 5 guy who recovered from Tommy John, but he's more than I think the Braves would give up for a rental at catcher.
Three team trade with Giants, Marlins
Another deal I can't see happening, but also can't happen because those pieces have been dealt, so I might as well share it with you:
3 team deal with the Marlins and Giants
Marlins get: Brandon Belt, Jake McGee
Giants get: Jake Odorizzi, Joey Rickard, Brett Lilek
Rays get: Christian Yelich, Andrew Susac
"Loney for chris Stewart."
Schwarber attempt 2
Archer (or lesser) + DJ for Schwarber
No Jennings! Sorry.
Extend Kevin Kiermaier
Now we're talking!
Extend Kevin Kiermaier with a Longoria/Moore/Archer-eque deal: lock up arbitration and add team options for first 3 years of free agency with something like $7M/$10M/$12M.
Trade with Cleveland
SEND Loney Jennings Colome Shaffer Faria
GET Santana 1B/DH Salazar #3 Starter F.Mejia Catcher prospect
Everyone wants to trade Loney and Jennings for a bunch of value. At least this one leaned on prospects as well, even if it's not possible!
"Desmond Jennings for Kevin Plawecki,,, something close to that"
"Submit a $7 million dollar posting fee for Byung-Ho Park, and then offer him two years at $7 million per."
We lost the bid. :(
Keep Maile, ditch Arencibia
Re-add Luke Maile to the 40-man roster. He's a quality defender who can be optioned a few more times and who adds much, much more value than someone like J.P. Arencibia.
"Trade Ryan Brett, James Loney, Taylor Guerreri, and one of Adames/Robertson to the Brewers for Jonathan Lucroy and Adam Lind."
Now I'm very glad Loney is already gone!
Schwarber attempt 3
Trade Archer for Schwarber
Dammit. Can I say this passed the sniff test?
I suppose there are benefits to both sides in this trade. Archer is affordable and a leading personality for all of baseball. This deal hurts, but the Cubs have no spot for Schwarber and the value may not be far off... Ugh.
"Sign The Final Boss for 3/$12"
I'll take this one! Why not, the other closers have been traded away.
Much and more on the Korean born closer looking for an MLB job can be read behind the hyperlink!
"Trade Jennings, Loney, and Faria for Matt Adams (and maybe some lottery pick prospect from the Cards)"
Neat idea, but they gone.
"Signing alexie ramirez"
But you didn't say for how much! Anyway, we already dealt for Miller in this as well.
"Trade Desmond Jennings for Luis Garcia (Phillies)"
Too late, but at least you get his trade value more.
"Brandon Guyer and Hak Ju Lee to OAK for Drew Pomeranz"
"Trade Erasmo Ramirez, Patrick Leonard, and Yonny Chirinos for Pedro Alveraz"
Veto! There's no longer a need for Alvarez, and there's no starters left!
Let's end the litany of deals there. Everything that follows cannot be completed due to the players already being traded or the need not being present on the roster.
So where does that leave us today?
|Major League Roster|
|C1||Kevin Plawecki||$507,500||SP1||Jake Odorizzi||$507,500|
|1B||Brandon Belt||$6,200,000||SP2||Drew Smyly (L)||$3,900,000|
|2B||Logan Forsythe||$3,300,000||SP3||Erasmo Ramirez||$2,800,000|
|3B||Evan Longoria||$11,500,000||SP4||Matt Moore (L)||$5,000,000|
|SS||Brad Miller||$507,500||SP5||Blake Snell (L)||$507,500|
|CF||Kevin Kiermaier||$507,500||HL||Seung-Hwan Oh||$4,000,000|
|RF||Steven Souza Jr.||$507,500||HL||Alex Colome||$507,500|
|DH||Kyle Schwarber||$507,500||HL||Hansel Robles||$507,500|
|ML||Xavier Cedeno (L)||$507,500|
|C2||Josh Phegley||$507,500||ML||Steve Geltz||$507,500|
|BN||Nick Franklin||$507,500||ML||Danny Farquhar||$507,500|
|BN||Logan Morrison||$4,100,000||LM||Enny Romero (L)||$507,500|
Next men up from the minors would be C Curt Casali and Luke Maile, INF Tim Beckham and Ryan Brett, OF Mikie Mahtook and Taylor Motter, SP Jacob Faria and Burch Smith, and RPs Evan Scribner (who has entered arbitration as a Super 2), Andrew Bellatti and Cody Hall. Let's assume we let Brandon Gomes go too. Eventually, the Rays can also call upon prospects Daniel Robertson and Taylor Guerrieri for that playoff push.
It's possible that I have Snell slotted into the starting rotation a tad bit early, but even if the Rays waited until May for his promotion by skipping a few starts and slotting in a veteran, this is still the intended roster.
Overall the bullpen looks a bit weaker, which isn't great for what turned out to be the Rays' weakness in the second half of 2015, but the offense seems improved through the additions of several left handed bats. Adding the ability to his right handed pitching was a clear goal of the population, and well accomplished. It's even further supplemented by Logan Morrison, who doesn't even weigh down the payroll.
Using overall Steamer wRC+ projections as our guide, it's a pretty even lineup with a lot more hitting ability than 2015 featured.
|Josh Reddick (L)||113|
|Kyle Schwarber (L)||124|
|Brandon Belt (L)||122|
|Steven Souza Jr.||104|
|Kevin Kiermaier (L)||96|
|Brad Miller (S)||100|
The starting rotation suffers depth in the short term through the losses of Archer and Karns. We start the arb clock early on Snell and have to use Colome as a starter again until Cobb returns from injury, but as long as the arms are healthy that rotation could do fine.
I'm not blown away by that bullpen, but it could suffice! And it's hard to argue with that salary. I've added in the IRL addition of Chase Whitley for the complete picture.
Feel free to vote below on how you feel our "twitch" version of the 2016 off-season performed.