Hi all. I've attempted my own version of "If I were Billy Eppler", the articles our site writers recently completed. I tried to stay under the allotted $34.3m payroll increase but ended up going over a bit. Still at $36.3m I'm reasonably close to our target and, to be fair, we can likely make up the difference through several methods ie. if Lamb is non-tendered and signed afterwards, through arbitration negotiations with eligible players, or by pinching a bit on one of the free agent deals I've proposed. All trade details are hyperlinked (click the red words) in their respective headings. There are also hyperlinks to line-ups configurations and a 40-man roster breakdown at the bottom of the page. Enjoy...
- Priority #1) Top of the rotation arm: Zach Wheeler via free agency 4yrs/$80m ($20m AAV)
Impact starters tops most all of our winter wishlists. It’s was the main fail point of the 2019 team and is easily the most pressing need for our Halos going into 2020. We've lacked any semblance of top of the rotation punch for years but this particular market has solutions galore. I have us adding peripheral darling Zack Wheeler, a man many believe has yet another level beyond his recently displayed excellence. We'd all love Gerrit Cole/Steven Strasburg here but money is an obstacle and paying what they're expected to earn basically blows the budget. Pesky rules…
Uncle Pennybags option: Gerrit Cole, Steven Strasburg
- Priority #2) Mid-rotation arm: Matthew Boyd via 3 team trade (LAA/DET/CHC)
And to no one's surprise more pitching. Adding a TOR (top of the rotation) arm still leaves our puzzle an incomplete Frankenstein, sprawling across the coffee table not even remotely resembling the picture on the front of the box. Enter Matt Boyd, a solid young arm with some interesting upside. Boyd's BABIP was over 1% higher than league average and nearly 2% higher than the LAA team average. His SIERA (an ERA estimator that factors balls in play) indicates his actual ERA of 4.56 should have been nearly a full run lower at 3.61. In short Detroit's terrible defensive unit consistantly let Boyd down and significantly suppressed his 2019 output.
The proposed package bringing Matt to the pearly gates is a heavy one, with major league pieces Justin Anderson & Noe Ramirez going to relief needy Cubs and prospects Jordyn Adams, Jose Suarez, Jeremiah Jackson, and Brennen Davis heading to the Motor City. The full breakdown looks like this:
LAA: Matt Boyd LHP, Drew VerHagen RHP, Ethan Hearn C
CHC: Justin Anderson RHP, Noe Ramirez RHP
DET: Jordyn Adams OF, Brennen Davis OF, Jeremiah Jackson SS, Jose Suarez LHP
As you can see we also net ground ball specialist Drew VerHagen and a 19yr old C in Ethan Hearn. Still, giving up full control over several promising players is worrying. Such is the cost of affordable/quality SP in today's MLB.
Richie Rich option: Hyun-jin Ryu, Dallas Keuchel
Priority #3) Catcher: Jason Castro via free agency 2yrs/$9m
Another blemish needing attention is that of the field general. Our current catcher stable consists of one dimensional options (Stassi=glove Smith=bat). Balance is needed. Veteran Jason Castro is a compromise over sexier/unaffordable option Yasmani Grandal but still has value. He's strong vs right handers (2019 wRC+ 123 vs RHP) but abysmal vs LHP. Good thing we keep old friend Kevan Smith around who hammered southpaws to the tune of 145 wRC+ in 2019. The Castro/Smith tandem should churn out some nice offensive value from behind the dish. Flipping to the defensive side of things Castro has long been known for his pitch framing, a skill highly valued to the LAA front office. Though it isn't what it was in his heyday he's still above average and should help a staff that received little help in the framing category last season. Good pitch framing+average arm+decent lefty bat= clear upgrade for 2020.
C.M. Burns option: Yasmani Grandal
2nd option: Mike Zunino
Priority #4) Corner Infield LHB: Jake Lamb via trade with AZ
This is a value play more than anything. We certainly need some offensive chutzpah, ideally from behind the plate and in the form of Yasmani Grandal. Unfortunately Arte’s money only stretches so far. It'd be unwise to task Matt Thaiss with things he’s shown little ability to do thus far so a versatile insurance piece at a bargain price is the proverbial edge piece of our puzzle, bringing things into focus quite nicely. Lamb has struggled with health the last few seasons but isn't far removed from a back-to-back 2.5 WAR campaigns. He's a lefty with thump (particularly vs RHP) and is a capable defender at 1B & 3B. He has a notable LHP allergen but, with our vast RHB infield depth, it can almost certainly be avoided. All that said Lamb is superfluous in AZ making him a possible non-tender candidate. A young BP arm like Jake Jewell should be enough to get Jake wearing a Halo. His arb estimate of $5m is a calculated risk
LAA: Jake Lamb 1B/3B
ARZ: Jake Jewell RHP
Scrooge McDuck option: Mike Moustakas
- Priority #5) Depth rotation member: Kwang-hyun Kim via posting system 2yr/$6m
And another puzzle piece falls into place revealing a picture mostly complete. As we all know you can never have enough pitching and if last season taught us anything it's the prudence of having injury fill-ins and back ups to our Felix Pena's & Jamie Barria's. Kim's an international gamble who's KBO numbers have been similar to those of MLBer Merrill Kelly and former/future MLB vet Josh Lindblom. Knowing this it's not unrealistic to expect a mid 4 ERA and, more importantly, highly valuable innings. He should be affordable with the added benefit of being versatile/willing to adapt to the pen if another starter shines more bright.
Smaug the Dragon option: Julio Tehran, Kevin Gausman