After a heavy handed attempt at drawing interest in our starters, the Fake Rays at first found nothing suitable. Drew Smyly and his $6.9 million salary was weighing the payroll down, but we couldn’t wait any longer.
From the beginning of the simulation, the Fake Rays saw the bullpen as a key weakness for an otherwise stacked roster. And from the beginning the Fake Rays were in on two players.
1. Rays sign Yonder Alonso to a minor league deal
Every simulation we target the defense-first first baseman Yonder Alonso, and this scenario was no different. Every year, it seems, the Rays need a back up first baseman to come through at a critical point in the season. Alonso is the right answer for filling the void, and he gladly accepted a minor league deal this time around.
2. Rays sign Brad Ziegler to a three year, $24 million deal
Entering his age 37 season, Ziegler is a submariner with an incredible track record over the last five years, including a strong showing in Fenway after a mid-season acquisition in 2016.
We set an $8 million AAV for Ziegler at the very beginning, so when his “agent” asked if we’d go three years, we said yes at our max price. He accepted our three year deal over another opportunity believed to be 2/$20.
These were our safety nets for the Fake Rays, to shore up enough that we could walk away from the simulation and by content.
Of course, this is simulations world though, and we decided to go for it.
Rays sign Greg Holland to a 3 year, $21 million deal with an opt-out after year one
It’s still difficult to look back and see how the Rays came away with this reliever. The former All-Star closer of the good-Royals is still completing his recovery from Tommy John, so we led our communication to Holland by praising our medical team.
The Rays could also offer incentives:
- $500k for making the All-Star Game
- $1 mil for placing top-10 in the Cy Young voting
- $1 mil for placing top-20 in the MVP voting
But most of all, we heavily back loaded this offer at 5/7/9. Should Holland recover and prove himself in the AL East, he can go get his money. If he’s just an ok reliever, he’s probably getting market rate for 0.5 WAR contributions, which is fair and a risk the Rays could take on overall.
Holland liked our offer, and set up an aggressive shopping of Drew Smyly.
And boy did that take an interesting direction.
Royals trade Eric Hosmer, Trayce Thompson, Ashe Russell, Foster Griffin, Cam Gallagher and $2 million to the Rays for Drew Smyly, Steven Souza, Ryne Stanek, and Justin O’Conner
The Rays have a make shift first base situation that works best for Brad Miller’s preferences to play in the infield, but let’s be honest. The Rays would prefer a gold glove defender at the position, so this deal began with a 1:1 offer of Smyly for Hosmer and cash, who has an expiring contract that the rebuilding Fake Royals were happy to move.
The Fake Royals had also acquired Trayce Thompson from the Dodgers, though, and the young slugger was not up to snuff for a starting role. Steven Souza, on the other hand, was tantalizing for the Kansas City front office, and someone the Fake Rays had soured on.
So we made what-if demands.
If you want Souza, you need to add a high-pedigree low-minors arm to Thompson (who for us would be a platoon partner for LF). They said sure, if we could balance things out with our own prospect added. The Fake Royals set their sites on Ryne Stanek and suddenly had an ultimatum. This deal happens with Stanek, and doesn’t without him.
We wanted Hosmer. His one year deal and plus defense was the right mix to hold the fort until Casey GIllaspie was ready for promotion.
So we doubled our ask for a high ceiling low minors arm. 2015 first round pick RHP Ashe Russell (grade 60 fastball and slider) and 2014 first round pick LHP Foster Griffin (grade 55 fastball and change). They said yes to both.
To make 40-man roster room, we needed Justin O’Conner to turn into the framing-forward prospect Cam Gallagher.
At the end of the day, the Rays got $2 million to balance the scales a bit more in our favor. We had to get front office permission to be spending so much, and will consider moving some more cash tomorrow.
Rays trade 3B Richie Shaffer to the Braves for C Tyler Flowers; DFA C Bobby Wilson
But first we spent that $2 million, upgrading at catcher to a top-15 framer in the majors by dealing the man without a path to the majors in Shaffer.
This was the easiest trade we’ve ever made, one that made sense for both sides immediately.
The Fake Rays got creative but expensive. Players like Brad Miller and Erasmo Ramirez are potentially being pushed out by the addition of two “expensive” relievers.
Meanwhile, there continues to be interest in our starters Odorizzi, Cobb, and Andriese.
Plus, Evan Longoria has never been so valuable. Could something happen there?