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If I Were Billy Eppler..., Part II

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H.T. Ennis’s take on the offseason fun!

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets
Thor is the big prize.
Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Welcome to the 2nd installment of the If I were Billy Eppler series, where HH writers explicate the transactions for their desired Angels offseason. Previous editions by various authors can be found here:

Part I - Jessica DeLine

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. Cost-controlled starting pitching
  2. Reliable relief pitching (an oxymoron, I know)
  3. First base
  4. Depth

The TL;DR version: Last year, I made it my priority to keep Jo Adell. This year, I don’t have the same caveat.

There are several reasons I decided against targeting the Gerrit Coles and Anthony Rendons of the world. First, with only $34.3 million, signing either one of them would leave very little room to do anything else. The Angels are not one elite piece away from competing. We need to bolster our team as much as possible, even at the expense of the farm system.

I say this because in all honesty, if we sit tight, there aren’t enough pieces to come up and help the team until 2021 at best (more likely 2022). With negotiations very tense between the commissioner and the MLB Players’ Association, the probability that there is a work stoppage in 2022 increases with every argument. Teams aren’t shelling out for mid-tier free agents anymore (with good reason). Service time manipulation is very prevalent.

Even if we were to sit tight and have everything go our way, 2022 is simply too far away. That would be eight years since the Angels’ last playoff appearance and thirteen years since the last playoff win. The Washington Nationals demonstrated this year that a Wild Card team can win it all. Even if we don’t succeed in overtaking the Astros in the division, we have to try.

Therefore, using both monetary and prospect capital, I tried to put the best possible team on the field without committing too much money to one player, which can be rather volatile. In addition, because Stephen Strasburg, Cole, and Rendon are represented by Scott Boras, who is notorious for waiting out the competition, I wanted to put together a team that was not contingent on one of these star players. I also tried to avoid players with Qualifying Offers if possible. The goal is to have two shots at competing—in 2020 and 2021. Once Albert Pujols and his contract clear, the Angels will have more payroll flexibility to get back into the big free agent market game.


Trade with New York Mets (Net -$1.1 million)

Trade Proposal: OF Jo Adell, IF Zack Cozart, IF Luis Rengifo, SP Andrew Heaney, SP José Suárez, and RP Noe Ramirez for SP Noah Syndergaard and RP Edwin Diaz

Contracts—Cozart: 1 year ($12.7 million), Heaney: ARB 3 ($5 million), Ramirez: PRE ARB ($1 million) for Syndergaard: ARB 3 ($9.9 million) and Diaz ($7 million)

This is the trade with which you either agree or you don’t. If you don’t think the Angels should trade Adell, then perhaps one of the other many If I Were Eppler plans we have here at Halos Heaven is for you. I took the opportunity to trade a prospect who is still very obviously highly-regarded by everyone. He was injured in AAA, but he still struggled even with the altitude and the ultra-juiced ball. Adell is still pretty close to a sure thing in the Majors, but this opportunity was too good for me to pass up.

Not only did I acquire an ace in Syndergaard (two years of control) and an elite reliever in Diaz, I managed to save money in the process by unloading Cozart’s deadweight contract. I paid the price in assets, sending Rengifo (a casualty of the Major League infielder crunch), Heaney (whose future as an Angel has previously been discussed on this site), and Suárez (a young pitcher who was not ready for the Majors last year). I plugged this trade in the site above, and it cleared, although the Angels overpaid a little. I still decided to make the trade (obviously).

Syndergaard had a rougher 2019 than his usual standards, but this can possibly be attributed to the juiced ball. He’s elite and should benefit from playing behind a solid Angels defense instead of an atrocious Mets one. Although the price is high in prospect capital, against the salary cap, Syndergaard is a mere $9.9 million, and that number should not go up over $15 in his final arbitration year. Because we are salary-constrained, we have to find “bargains” against the cap. Syndergaard is one.

Diaz also underperformed with the Mets in 2019 and was very susceptible to the long ball. Mets fans are not happy with him, considering the pieces they gave up to acquire him (also taking on Robinson Cano’s contract), and it might be time for them to trade him.

I think the Mets would make this deal because they are tentatively listening to offers on Syndergaard and are unhappy with Diaz. Since they signed Jacob deGrom to an extension, they might be interested in looking for other ways to unload salary. Cozart is dead money for one more year only, and after that they can retool. Heaney can slide into Syndergaard’s rotation slot, and the Mets acquire a Top-5 prospect in baseball in addition to other prospects.

For the record, I doubt Billy Eppler will actually trade Adell.

Trade with Arizona Diamondbacks (Net +$8.7 million)

Trade Proposal: OF Brian Goodwin, IF/OF Taylor Ward, and IF Jahmai Jones for SP Robbie Ray

Contracts—Goodwin: ARB 1 ($2.1 million) for Ray: ARB 4 ($10.8 million)

Ray is a pitcher who fans liked to speculate was on the move at the 2019 Trade Deadline and even before then, possibly to the Angels. He whiffs a lot of bats (over 12.0 K/9 each of the last three seasons) and limits hits. Walks and home runs are the issue. Ray is a really good #3 or #4 starter in the Major Leagues, and he is probably more reliable than the other options out there on the market for around $10 million.

Goodwin, after having a breakout 2019, is a fan favorite, but he is cheap and can be of use to the outfield-starved Diamondbacks. Jones was once a top prospect for the Angels, but he has tailed off in recent years. I’m not sure Ward is too popular with Halo fans. This trade successfully went through on Baseball Trade Values. These three should be enough to get one year of Robbie Ray.

Trade with Miami Marlins (Net $0)

Trade Proposal: IF Matt Thaiss and RP Jake Jewell for RP Jarlin García and RP Ryne Stanek

Contracts—Two PRE ARB for two PRE ARB is a wash

We also need cheap relief pitching. The Marlins have cheap relief pitching. Although they have Garrett Cooper at first base, he can also play in the outfield, and, let’s face it, the Marlins need everything. Thaiss can fill a void for them, and his hitting tools might play well in the large ballpark. García represents the lefty out of the pen that the Angels did not have in 2019, and Stanek is a quality pitcher best known for working as the opener for Tampa Bay. Jewell might just need a change of scenery.

This trade successfully went through on Baseball Trade Values.

Trade with Pittsburgh Pirates (Net $0)

Trade Proposal: RP Justin Anderson for 1B José Osuna

Contracts—One PRE ARB for one PRE ARB is a wash

The Pirates are in a similar boat as the Angels; they have hitters but need pitching. Anderson is a volatile but quality reliever with good stuff that should play well in Pittsburgh. Osuna can play first base, third base, and the corner outfield positions, and although he isn’t expendable, he could be traded. Josh Bell is the everyday first baseman. Colin Moran mans third. The outfield positions can be given to prospects.

The versatility and price tag of Osuna is everything for which the Angels are looking. He has proven he can hit, a tool the Angels have not gotten out of first base. In addition, he can play other positions, a valuable skill in today’s game.

This trade successfully went through on Baseball Trade Values.

My trades cost $7.6 million.


SP Hyun-jin Ryu

Contract—3 years, $54 million [$18M AAV]

Ryu is the best starter on the market who won’t require me to go around raiding little kids’ piggy banks or to give up a draft pick selection. Although Ryu is injury prone, when healthy, he’s been among the best starting pitchers in the league. He’s garnered a 1.00 WHIP each of the last two seasons, and his worst season was still above-average by ERA+ standards. With the possible six-man rotation, we can skip a few of Ryu’s starts. I think it’s very fair to pencil him in for 22-25 starts, which, given the quality at which he’s pitched the last few years, is well-worth $18 million a year. He’s projected for 3 years/$48 million from Fangraphs, but we can chuck him a couple more million a year to entice him to sign with the Angels. At about half the cost of Gerrit Cole and half the years, I like this signing a lot.

RP Will Harris

Contract—2 years, $14 million [$7M AAV]

Ignore whatever happened to Will Harris in the playoffs. He is an elite reliever. For the last five years he has been in Houston, and he has thrived. He’s tallied a 2.36 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP in almost 300 innings. Fangraphs has him going at the contract listed above, and he would be a huge get for the Angels bullpen if we were able to sign him at that price.

OF Mark Trumbo

Contract—1 year, $900,000

Honestly, I don’t know the backup free agent market that well. Someone else should probably be here. I saw Trumbo was a free agent and couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I hope he would be interested in a reunion in Haloland.

IF Gordon Beckham

Contract—1 year, $800,000

Hey, we need a backup infielder, right? Beckham shouldn’t be playing that much.

My free agent signings cost $26.7 million. Combined with the $7.6 million I spent through trades, that brings us to our limit of $34.3 million.

Non-Tenders

I non-tendered the three aforementioned players: Justin Bour, Luis Garcia, and Nick Tropeano. It’s like Rahul read my mind or something.


Offseason in review:

I made several trades and signed two pitchers plus bench players. I spent the maximum $34.3 million, factoring in trade balances. The rotation and the bullpen look much better. The offense is largely the same. The farm is gutted. We have to win now. So let’s do it.

With this team, I think we can win a Wild Card spot and hopefully challenge the Astros for the division.

Here are the team’s depth charts:

Projected lineup (no Ohtani):

  1. 2B Tommy La Stella
  2. CF Mike Trout
  3. LF Justin Upton
  4. DH Albert Pujols
  5. 3B David Fletcher
  6. SS Andrelton Simmons
  7. 1B/RF José Osuna
  8. RF/1B Mark Trumbo
  9. C Max Stassi

Projected lineup (w/ Ohtani):

  1. 2B Tommy La Stella
  2. CF Mike Trout
  3. DH Shohei Ohtani
  4. LF Justin Upton
  5. 1B Albert Pujols
  6. 3B David Fletcher
  7. SS Andrelton Simmons
  8. RF José Osuna
  9. C Max Stassi

Bench:

  • C Kevan Smith
  • IF Gordon Beckham
  • OF/1B Mark Trumbo
  • OF Michael Hermosillo

Starting rotation :

  1. Noah Syndergaard
  2. Hyun-jin Ryu
  3. Shohei Ohtani
  4. Robbie Ray
  5. Griffin Canning
  6. Dillon Peters

Bullpen:

  1. Edwin Diaz
  2. Will Harris
  3. Hansel Robles
  4. Ty Buttrey
  5. Cam Bedrosian
  6. Jarlin García
  7. Ryne Stanek
  8. Keynan Middleton

DL:

  • No one? Pretty please? Nah, someone will be here.

Obviously Mike Trout’s home runs are the best, but...

Poll

Whose home runs are more exciting to watch?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Mark Trumbo’s
    (81 votes)
  • 84%
    Shohei Ohtani’s
    (434 votes)
515 votes total Vote Now