The final day of the SB Nation 2016 MLB Off-season Simulation came in a flurry, when all teams were given a 12:00 EST deadline to get things done. This is a problem when you’ve been talking with west coast clubs.
We entertained ideas like trading Evan Longoria or Chris Archer, and was hoping to see where conversations went with the Dodgers, but nothing every came about. This time, the Fake Rays were keeping their team leaders.
Longoria - Archer - Kiermaier. These players all stayed!
As a result, the Fake Rays were able to do work and find solutions for the problems of last season: an everyday 1B, solid relief pitching, and consistent catching.
By the end of the simulation, the Fake Rays were able to line up four separate trades to clear out riff raff from the 25-man roster, but eventually melded all of them into one big deal:
In a three team trade, Mariners get Wellington Castillo, Enny Romero, Andrew Chafin, and $1.5 million, Diamondbacks get Matt Andriese, Erasmo Ramirez, Steve Cishek and Christian Friedrich, and the Rays get Mike Zunino and Anthony Branda
In a monster exchange, the Rays upgraded at back up catcher (having acquired Tyler Flowers just yesterday to start) and picked up a left handed pitching prospect to fill that second-lefty void in the rotation left by trading Drew Smyly.
C Mike Zunino (who in the simulation has four years of control remaining, apparently there is some debate around this) is a rather capable framing catcher, placing fourth overall in FRAA on Baseball Prospectus’s leaderboard for his work in Triple-A.
LHP Anthony Branda was slated for the Fake Snakes rotation, but the Rays were able to offer two capable starters, so the Diamondbacks were tempted. This deal started with an offer of their top prospect, Socrates Brito, but we’d changed our focus to Mitch Haniger because Brito had already lost prospect eligibility and Haniger was a higher-reward lotto ticket that could be brought up in a year or so.
Then both outfielders were taken off the table. AZ went big on trading their other outfielders and wanted to hold on to the young studs. So Branda it became, when the Fake Rays added Erasmo Ramirez to the mix (which added an element of salary relief).
To finish the deal, the Rays also included Enny Romero, who was out of options and causing problems on the 40-man roster.
Rays sign Munenori Kawasaki and Chris Smith to minor league deals
We had minor league deals out to both of these players, as well as Charlie Morton. When the Rays backed out of trading Erasmo Ramirez to the Nationals (for Austin Voth, more than likely), Morton signed with their organization instead.
Smith is a reliever I think the Real Rays could target this season. Kawasaki is just a really fun player, although maybe redundant with Taylor Motter in Durham.
The Final Roster
The following is our intention for the Fake Rays by mid-season of 2017.
C1 Tyler Flowers
1B Eric Hosmer (L)
2B Logan Forsythe
3B Evan Longoria
SS Matt Duffy
LF Corey Dickerson (L)
CF Kevin Kiermaier (L)
RF Brad Miller (L)
DH Eric Thames (L)
C2 Mike Zunino
UT Nick Franklin (S)
OF Mikie Mahtook
OF Trayce Thompson
SP1 Chris Archer
SP2 Jake Odorizzi
SP3 Blake Snell (L)
SP4 Alex Cobb
SP5 Brent Honeywell
CL Alex Colome
SU Brad Ziegler
SU Greg Holland
MD Danny Farquhar
MD Brad Boxberger
MD Xavier Cedeno (L)
LM Chase Whitley
There is a different look to this team on Opening Day.
Tim Beckham would likely be on the major league bench, as Trayce Thompson is recovering from back surgery. Either way, we feel there is incredible match-up flexibility between RF-LF-DH for the Rays to cycle through their best opportunities at the plate.
Chase Whitley would be in the major league rotation to start the season, holding down the fort until Honeywell earns his major league promotion.
Payroll ended at $80.3 million, which was a good amount above our expected level of $73 million; however, the front office was able to get permission from ownership to sign Ziegler, which should go a long way toward solidifying the team’s competitive standing in the AL East.
Triple-A minor league depth
C Luke Maile
C Curt Casali
C Cam Gallagher
1B Yonder Alonso
1B Casey Gillaspie
INF Willy Adames
INF Daniel Robertson
INF Patrick Leonard
INF Munenori Kawasaki
OF Jake Bauers
OF Craig Gentry
OF Johnny Field
UT Ryan Brett
UT Taylor Motter
Pitchers: Anthony Branda, Jake Faria, Taylor Guerrieri, Jaime Shultz, Chih-Wei Hu, Austin Pruitt, Burch Smith, Chris Kirsch, Eddie Gamboa, Dylan Floro, Steve Geltz, Neil Wagner, Brad Schrieber, Kyle Bird, Chris Smith
Significant prospects acquired: Ashe Russell, Foster Griffin
Significant prospects traded: Ryne Stanek, Richie Shaffer, Justin O’Conner
You can find a full list of all transaction in the simulation here.
Thanks for reading!