iLoveLamp's offseason priorities
1. Starting Pitching
2. Adding Impact Bats
3. Raising the Floor
I think I can say that the one takeaway from the writers' posts is that with only $28.5M it's hard to address all the needs for this team -- especially if you want to protect the farm system. I got a little creative, only gave up one prospect, but did end up trading away a fan favorite.
First I added to the rotation, and then I added position players who not only fill holes in the lineup card, but also address team deficits (specifically OBP and positional flexibility).
I know that it's widely believed around here that our bullpen is a dumpster fire. While we undeniably had some lesser pitchers throwing in high leverage situations, this was largely due to injuries to the rotation that turned some relievers into starters, and tested the bullpen depth. Adding two reliable arms to the rotation should let us move those players back to the bullpen. Additionally, we used the trade deadline to add bullpen options. Considering our holes everywhere else, I used in-house option for the bullpen.
Finally, I did what I could to move ABs away from sub-replacement level players and give them to at least league average hitters. Ohtani getting ~600 ABs helps, but positional depth/flexibility help us get better bats into the lineup.
Starting Pitcher- Noah Syndergaard
2019 Arbitration Salary (Estimated): $5.9 (three years of team control)
Players Traded: Andrelton Simmons ($13M), Blake Parker ($3.1M), and Brandon Marsh
This trade was inspired by a post from some Mets blog that was in the links this morning. I know nothing about the quality of that blog, but if they are correct then a package built around Simmons would work. I include Blake Parker because he helps their bullpen depth (which is a position of need), and Brandon Marsh because it was either a prospect or cash to complete the deal -- and we need the cash.
So that's what the Mets get. What do we get? Well, we get a front-of-the-rotation starter that steamer projects to have a 3.29 FIP and 3.6 WAR. We also get over $10M in payroll flexibility. He also has one more year of team control than Simmons and will anchor a rotation that has lacked stability for years.
Starting Pitcher- Wade Miley
2 years, $17 million [$8.5M AAV]
This isn't nearly as sexy an addition to the rotation, but the price is right and we need the depth. Steamer projects a 4.47 FIP and 0.7 WAR, but he finished last season with a 2.57 actual ERA, and he'd be coming to a pitcher's ballpark so there's at least some chance he can beat out his projections again. Even if it's just a repeat, though, he's a back-of-the-rotation arm that helps us keep some of our SP depth in the bullpen or seasoning in the minors.
Third Baseman - Josh Donaldson
3 years, $57.9 million [$19.5M AAV]
Cozart has to slide over to SS since we gave up one of our best players at a premium position in order to get Syndergaard. This creates a big hole at 3B. We don't have the resources to add a Machado (nor do I want to), but we can swing a trade for Josh Donaldson.
Steamer projects him to hit with a wRC+ of 131 next season, and to put up 4.6 WAR. He also is one of the better defenders at 3B, gets on base A LOT, and will slide in nicely as the leadoff hitter in front of Mike Trout.
He's on the older side, but his talent plays and he should still provide value in the final year of this contract.
Catcher - Wilson Ramos
3 years, $36 million [$12M AAV]
I think Briceno can one day be a regular catcher, but Steamer only projects him to hit with a wRC+ of 72 and be worth 0.4 WAR. Our lineup needs another impact bat, and Catcher is one of the few positions we can add it. Steamer projects Ramos to hit with a wRC+ of 107 and be worth 2.8 WAR. That's a big upgrade and certainly worth the investment.
Offeason In Review
I think I accomplished what I set out to do. I anchored the rotation with a front-end starter and rotational depth, I added impact bats at 3B and C, and I used internal options to fill out the bullpen and the bench. In case you weren't counting along as I was putting up the numbers, I added $45.9M in AAV salary commitments, but subtracted $16.1M via trade. That puts me at $29.8M net, so I try to trade Bedrosian for a low-level prospect but probably end up non-tendering him. This saves me an additional $1.7M and brings me to $28.1M.
In any case, here are the team's depth charts:
Shoemaker (from 'pen)
Pena (from 'pen)
Lineup vs. Righties
Lineup vs. Lefties
There's a lot to like about this plan: I add three impact players and one rotational depth piece, I finally find a high OBP player to hit in front of Trout, I stay under budget, and I find an everyday spot for Fletcher (who is adored on this site).
There's also some things not to like. I don't add anything sexy to the bullpen, I trade away a projected 4-win shortstop (and fan favorite) who brings it every day on both offense and defense, and I'm not happy with my OF depth (essentially expecting Fernandez to learn something resembling OF defense and/or Bourjos to contribute offensively).
I do keep Pujols (and Fernandez for that matter) out of the lineup against lefties, and I give Rengifo enough ABs that being a utility player shouldn't stunt his development. I also have a defensive replacement for Upton in LF (Bourjos) who also can be a pinch runner late in games. And I have two pitchers in the bullpen who should be able to go 3 IP a couple times a week (Shoemaker and Pena), which is increasingly important with SPs going fewer and fewer innings.
And most importantly, if Adell is tearing it up in AAA there should be no one blocking him midseason. Either Calhoun won't be worth keeping in the lineup, or we'll be able to trade him and promote Adell.
As constructed, this team should be able to make a run at a wild card, and the financial commitments are only for three seasons.