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If I Were Billy Eppler..., Part I

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Our editor-in-chief has first crack at putting together a roster!

MLB: ALDS-New York Yankees at Minnesota Twins Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the 1st installment of the If I were Billy Eppler series, where HH writers explicate the transactions for their desired Angels offseason.

In order to rosterbate responsibly, guidelines for the series are as follows.

For the luxury tax payroll, $157.4 million is the amount of estimated present obligations for the 2020 season, when contracts, arbitration-eligible players, 40-man salaries, and player benefits are accounted for.

All in all, 25-man player salaries will be estimated at $175 million for the upcoming season, which is achieved by adding 10% to the prior year’s 25-man player payroll. See this payroll post for more information. Assuming no additional arbitration-eligible players are non-tendered, this gives the GM $34.3 million to spend during the offseason (Justin Bour, Luis Garcia, and Nick Tropeano have already been non-tendered, and this is reflected in these numbers).

As for proposed offseason moves, MLB Trade Rumors’ free-agent predictions and FanGraphs’ crowdsourced contract estimates are to be used as baselines for any free-agent signings.

Trades must be as realistic as possible. One popular tactic among baseball fans on the internet is offering a bunch of players you don’t like in exchange for some you do. In reality, that’s not how trades actually work, so that’s off limits. Furthermore, even if player values are equal, teams make acquisition decisions based on player tendencies, immediate needs, supply and demand, ability to develop talent, among other things: that is to say, trades made should be mutually beneficial. The Baseball Trade Values trade estimator can be used as another data point to estimate, though at the end of the day, each team has their own motivations and apparatuses to value players differently, and this should be taken into account.

Finally, if an arbitration-eligible player is to be involved in a transaction, MLBTR’s arbitration projections are to be used to calculate the player’s luxury tax implications since final arbitration numbers are not yet in.

Got it? Let’s go.


My offseason priorities

  1. Pitching
  2. Pitching
  3. A catcher I suppose
  4. Someone to play 1B when Pujols sits that isn’t limited to just 1B

For my installment, my main goals were to improve the Angels pitching rotation. If they team wants to be competitive in 2020, then NEED a front line starter and a mid rotation guy at the very least. Given payroll constraints, I stopped there. Given that, I left the bench depth a bit thing but I’m okay with that. I see a strong core and you can’t fix everything all at one. This year pitching, 2021 - depth. The depth MAY be helped this year by the promotion of Jo Adell at some point in the season. There are other pieces that could step up, and probably some that we may have to move on from after this year.


Andrelton Simmons to the Brewers

There is nothing wrong with Andrelton Simmons per se. He’s still one of the best defenders in baseball. However, he’s certainly not worth $15MM per year when there are such huge pitching needs. The Angels don’t have a shortstop of Simba’s caliber in terms of defense, but Luis Rengifo and David Fletcher certainly CAN play there and possibly put up better offensive numbers than Simmons. Regardless, the potential value lost by trading Simmons is more than offset by the value added with pitching - both of whom could find their way to the majors in 2020.

Trade Proposal: Brewers get Andrelton Simmons. Angels get Drew Rasmussen (ETA 2020/2021) and Bobby Wahl (2020). Angels save $15MM in 2020 and 2021.

Sign Gerrit Cole

7 years, $231 million [$33M AAV]

Here’s the rub with the Gerrit Cole contract - 33 million is a lot per year give current contract constraints *ahem* Pujols *ahem*. Albert stands to make 29 million in 2020 and 30 million in 2021. His contract was back loaded. I propose backloading Cole’s contract to some extent. Not so much that he’s making 40 million in 7 years but enough to offset some money for other uses the next few years. Cole would get 25 million in 2020 and 2021 and 36.2 million the remaining 5 years of his contract. The Angels NEED an ace if they want to compete in the next few years. Of course in years 6 and or 7 we may regret this signing, but it pays dividends on the front end.

Sign Jake Odorizzi

3 years, $48 million [$16M AAV]

The Simmons trade alone almost pays for Odorizzi and let’s face it - Gerrit Cole is not enough to get the Angels anywhere. Odorizzi adds a nice middle rotation piece for the next fews years and helps shore up the rotation.

Trade Stiward Aquino to the Blue Jays for Reese McGuire

I wasn’t sure who to target for a catcher until a few days ago when I thought about the Blue Jays and their catching depth. Danny Jansen is their catcher of the future, and after him they have 4 catchers on their top 30 list, including Reese McGuire (#25) which is their 3rd best catching prospect after Jansen. Aquino is the Angels #20 prospect so it’s a pretty even swap and the Blue Jays certainly need pitching depth, while the Angels needs guys who are MLB ready now.

Sign Wilmer Flores

1 year, $4.5 million [$4.5M AAV]

Flores can play around the infield and mainly, he’d be used to fill in at first place when Pujols is DHing. Flores helps provide some flexibility I’d like to see more of in the Angels - aka guys like David Fletcher, Tommy La Stella, and Luis Rengifo. In 2018, he was the main first baseman for the Met and last year he slashed .317/.361/.487 in 285 plate appearances.

Sign Chris Martin

2 year, $9 million [$4.5M AAV]

The Angels need to build some depth in their bullpen as well as their starting rotation. Martin could be a nice “budget” piece to that end. In 4 seasons, Martin has a career 4.51 ERA but 3.46 FIP. Last year he threw 55.2 innings for the Brave and Rangers to the tune of a 3.40 ERA and 1.024 WHIP while notching 65 Ks and not a single wild pitch.

Sign Craig Stammen

2 years, $12 million [$6M AAV]

Stammen is perhaps an underrated free agent that some may steer away from due to age. However, Over the past 3 years he’s consistently thrown around 80 innings with a WHIP in the 1.0 to 1.1 range. He’s a high strikeout pitcher who is a bit of an oddity for the Angels since like Martin, he threw ZERO wild pitches in 2019. Given his age, I wouldn’t go more than 2 years on him and even if his ERA drops a bit in 2020, he’ll still be worth the money.

Non Tender:

Nick Tropeano, Justin Bour (already gone)
Luis Garcia $2.2MM
Max Stassi $800K
Noe Ramirez $1.9MM


Offseason in review:

My plan was to boost the pitching - both starting and in the bullpen, and I feel I accomplished that. Last year I was never a fan of signing Justin Bour - mainly because of his position inflexibility which is why I went for someone who can play other positions. Also, trading for McGuire has the potential to set up a future catcher for the Angels - an area where they are severely lacking. Do all these changes get the Angels to the World Series? Likely not unless some unknowns step up and the bench players show more depth that would be the current expectations.

You may notice I don’t have Zach Cozart in as a regular. I have doubts he’ll be able to play much at all this year so I consider him a bench piece which would keep Taylor Ward in AAA whenever Cozart is not on the DL.

I have NEW spend of $56 million, but have also cut out around $21 million for a net gain of $35 million which puts the 2019 opening day payroll right at the $175 million target.

Here are the team’s depth charts:

Projected lineup (no Ohtani):

  1. Fletcher
  2. Trout
  3. La Stella
  4. Upton
  5. Goodwin
  6. Pujols
  7. McGuire
  8. Flores
  9. Rengifo

Projected lineup (w/ Ohtani):

  1. Fletcher
  2. Trout
  3. Ohtani
  4. Upton
  5. La Stella
  6. Goodwin
  7. Pujols
  8. McGuire
  9. Rengifo

Bench:

  • Flores/Ohtani
  • Kevan Smith
  • Zach Cozart / Taylor Ward
  • Matt Thaiss

Starting rotation :

  • Gerrit Cole
  • Shohei Ohtani
  • Jake Odorizzi
  • Andrew Heaney
  • Griffin Canning
  • Barria/Pena/Suarez/Sandoval (depth/6 man rotation)

Bullpen:

  • Craig Stammen
  • Cam Bedrosian
  • Hansel Robles
  • Keynan Middleton
  • Ty Buttrey
  • Justin Anderson
  • Chris Martin
  • Luke Bard