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SBNation Offseason Simulation 2017: The Fake-Rays are here to play

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Let’s have a little fun before the hot stove warms up.

Colorado Rockies v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Welcome back to the offseason simulation!

Every year, 30 members of the SB Nation community get together and condense the off-season to 72 hours of pure mayhem, as previously conducted in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

This year, VP D_Russ was abandoned by President Hatfield this year, as he decided to transition back to President of Baseball without the Baseball Operations responsibilities, so JT Morgan was named VP of baseball operations, while D_Russ kept the VP title and added GM.

It’s complicated.

Anyway, the Fake-Rays were given a budget of $73 million, due to the low expectations for the Rays payroll in 2018, and we knew we would have to do what the Real-Rays would be doing as well: trade the players making $5 million or more for the best value you can find.

Beyond that, the Fake-Rays committed to keeping the prospects. All of them. If they were a FV 50 grade or better, they were staying.

Let’s see how it went:

  • Rays exercise option on Nate Eovaldi

As in real life, the Rays have a stellar starter available on a $2 million contract. Easy decision, he’s in the rotation.

  • Rays non-tender Shawn Tolleson

Sorry buddy, get well soon, but I need that 40-man spot.

Believe it or not, this was the end of Day Two. What I quickly discovered is that everyone wanted Jake Odorizzi, and no one wanted to trade value for him. My expectation was two players from a team’s Top-30 list, and something useful for the major league side, like a RHB OF for the bench (which — spoiler alert — I never found, because Austin Jackson signed for a bigger contract elsewhere), or perhaps a reliever. Several, and I mean several, teams put a tentative deal in place for Odorizzi, then backed out.

I would find a reliever-based salary dump, though, on Day Three.

  • Rays trade Brad Miller, Xavier Cedeno, and Taylor Guerreri to the Marlins for Jarlin Garcia

And now we’re cooking with heat!

The Miami Marlins were gutting their roster, and did so in dramatic fashion over the first two days.

  • Rays sign Seung-Hwan Oh to a 1-year, $3.5 million deal

The Final Boss, as he is nicknamed, needed a bounce back year. The Rays offered less than a competing Florida-based baseball team, but had a potential opening at closer... hmmm.

  • Rays sign Curtis Granderson to a 1-year, $4.5 million deal

The Fake-Rays decided the free agent market was the place to go for the open roster spot that was Rasmus’s in 2017, and Granderson was an easier get than Carlos Gomez.

Here’s where I’ll mention the Fake-Rays also went hard after Evan Gattis to no avail, he would have shared with Sucre and taken DH duties from Dickerson. It wasn’t a clean fit. Granderson was a more affordable and reasonable answer for this roster.

~~~ TIME OUT ~~~

Here’s the point in the simulation where I know what the Rays would do, but I go another path.

The Real-Rays would work hard to trade Jake Odorizzi, go sign Tyler Chatwood or his ilk on the cheap, and then wait out the market for a 1B.

Indeed, if I had done that, Mitch Moreland or (one of my favorite players, no lie) Yonder Alonso would have been still available on the last day of the simulation. Either would have taken a one year deal as a placeholder for Jake Bauers.

I did none of those things. But instead of blowing up the Rays roster, I blew up the budget instead.

~~~ Let’s go back to the Sim ~~~

  • Rays trade Chih-Wei Hu, Brandon Lowe, and Yonny Chirinos to the Rockies for Ian Desmond and $36 million

Hu was not making the 25-man roster, Chirinos was not making the 40-man, and Brandon Lowe’s stock was sky high after making the Arizona Fall League All-Star team.

Time to cash in, literally.

The Rockies wanted these players specifically, and the Rays (who never take on bad contracts) had an opportunity to pick up a positive clubhouse influence in need of a change of scenery. Desmond can play any position, including SS or CF if needed, and the financial offset helped a ton.

In receiving $36 million, the Rays are saddled with a mere 4-year, $24 million contract (with an option for $15 million in 2022).

I will freely admit this is not what the Real-Rays would do. In fact, I’m a little ashamed I didn’t play by the rules of my Rays-based conscience. But I saw my shot and took it.

I still needed to do something about the payroll, though, and that answer came down to the eleventh hour:

  • In a three-team trade, Rays trade Alex Colome, Curt Casali, and Ryan Yarborough and receive JB Bukauskas, David Paulino, Brady Rodgers, Freudis Nova, and Tyler Kinley

THE HOT STOVE IS A GREASE FIRE.

HOUSTON RECEIVES
Alex Colome (TB)
Ryan Yarbrough (TB)
Curt Casali (TB)

TAMPA BAY RECEIVES
JB Bukauskas (HOU)
David Paulino (HOU)
Freudis Nova (HOU)
Brady Rodgers (HOU)
Tyler Kinley (MIA)

MIAMI RECEIVES
Nick Markakis (HOU)
Jorge Alcala (HOU)

The Astros wanted Colome, and it was a far better return than anything Odorizzi would land. With Miller and Cedeno gone, this helped the cause of getting payroll under $90 million, which I thought was reasonable in Fake-Rays land.

To make it work, Houston had acquired Nick Markakis and needed him gone. Buyer’s remorse. Again, Miami answered the call and accepted Houston’s No. 21 prospect as well, sending a promising Double-A arm to the Rays as well.

Casali and Yarby were 40-man casualties to get this deal done, and Lordy is it a good one for the Rays, who add three FV 50+ prospects.

  • Rays sign Wade Miley, Jason Motte and Ryan Hanigan to minor league deals

Miley has ALE experience and is a southpaw. Hanigan is an old friend. Motte is a wild card, who knows.

The 25-man roster

I never found the RHB OF to platoon with Granderson. Given more time, a deal with the Cardinals could have been found, but the in-house candidate Johnny Field works just fine, so I went with him.

Batting Order

  1. Kevin Kiermaier - CF
  2. Steven Souza, Jr. - RF
  3. Evan Longoria - 3B
  4. Curtis Granderson - LF
  5. Matt Duffy - 2B
  6. Corey Dickerson - DH
  7. Ian Desmond - 1B
  8. Wilson Ramos - C
  9. Adeiny Hechavarria - SS

The Rest of 40-man Roster

26. Willy Adames
27. Jose Alvarado
28. Jake Bauers
29. Diego Castillo
30. Nick Ciuffo
31. Jose De Leon
32. Brent Honeywell
33. Andrew Kittredge
34. David Paulino
35. Austin Pruitt
36. Brady Rodgers
37. Jaime Schultz
38. Ryne Stanek
39. Justin Williams
40. Hunter Wood

The Fake-Rays Top Prospects List

FV 60

  • RHP Brent Honeywell

FV 55

  • SS Willy Adames
  • LHP/1B Brendan McKay
  • OF Jesus Sanchez
  • OF/1B Jake Bauers
  • RHP JB Bukauskas
  • RHP Jose De Leon
  • RHP David Paulino
  • SS Wander Franco

FV 50

  • OF Joshua Lowe
  • SS Freudis Nova
  • OF Garrett Whitley
  • OF Justin Williams
  • SS Lucius Fox
  • RHP Austin Franklin

The Fake-Rays had some money. The Fake-Rays build possibly the best farm in the simulation. I’m ok with this alternate universe, and we look forward to your thoughts as well.

You can find all the moves made in the simulation here.

Poll

How would you rate the Fake-Rays?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    A is for Awesome!
    (38 votes)
  • 38%
    B
    (65 votes)
  • 24%
    C
    (42 votes)
  • 4%
    D
    (8 votes)
  • 10%
    F is for... really bad.
    (18 votes)
171 votes total Vote Now