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If I Were Billy Eppler..., Part III

Let’s go NUTZ!

MLB: Mike Trout Press Conference Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the 3rd 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

Part II: H. T. Ennis

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. SP
  2. SP
  3. SP
  4. SP
  5. C
  6. Exorcist

While the bullpen faltered late in the season I wholeheartedly see that as a symptom of nonexistent SP. So while it could be improved, the easiest way to do that would be to make the SP much stronger to give them some rest. And every other position besides catcher ranges from usable to MVP so there isn’t a need to spend money there. So despite losing over 90 games there aren’t many needs on this team. Just a ton of SP and a C. Which is technically just 2 positions.

Well getting enough money for that is hard, as 34.3 million is what is available. Big picture, this following plan makes the money available for 2020 increase to 73.8 MILLION. Much better. May be unrealistic a tad or 12 but why not go for broke?

Zack Cozart to Orioles

Baltimore is willing to play anyone in order to flip them later, (although how much Cozart can actually play is unknown) especially if they get a couple of prospects as well. Now losing Jones and Adams sting but as you will see, they are blocked for the foreseeable future anyway so if that gets an additional 12.66 million, so be it. Besides, a pitching prospect, even with a bad year last year, is something, right?

Trade Proposal: Baltimore gets Zack Cozart, Jordyn Adams, D’shawn Knowles. Angels get Blaine Knight (ETA 2021)

Justin Upton to Twins

Yeah, he’s gone. Had to structure it to pay 20 million each of the next two years after 2020, but who cares! If I am Billy Epplier I am doing all I can to not be gone after this year, besides, that is 26.8 more millions of dollars gained and a catching prospect back. Not the best mind you, but have you seen the Angels catching prospects? Now why would Justin agree? After all, he has a no trade clause. Because the Twins were in the playoffs twice in the last 3 seasons, in a weak division, and he will be getting more money in not California thanks to taxes. As for the Twins, they need an OF and paying 32 million for 3 years of Upton is a good deal.

Trade Proposal: Twins get Justin Upton, Andrew Heaney, Michael Hermosillo, Max Stassi, and 40 million dollars for 2021 and 2022. Angels get Ben Rortverdt (ETA 2021)

Sign Gerrit Cole

7 years, $224 million [$32M AAV]

7 years 224 million dollars, year 1 of 24 million, year 2 of 25 million, 35 million years 3-7. That makes it at an AAV of exactly 32 million, which is the Fangraphs estimates. Going big is what needs to happen and he is the best big fish to play with the Trout. If he wants an opt out, it will be after year 2, which is a scary time anyway due to the fears of a player strike.

Sign Zack Wheeler

4 years, $72 million [$18M AAV]

Someone else the Angels are looking into and would be a great addition. Losing a 3rd rounder is worth it, and it can be afforded this season anyway with all that money saved. Future farm isn’t as important when in Trout’s prime and job is on the line. One two punch with Cole is good, but it is not enough.

Sign Hyun-Jin Ryu

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

Lefty, Cy young candidate, very nice to have as a number 3. People are a bit concerned with durability, which is fair, but not having to be the number one or two guy helps a ton. Has postseason experience, doesn’t have to move, and since he is Boras’ client as well, it should be easier to convince with Cole coming as well.

Sign Kyle Gibson

2 years, $20 million [$10M AAV]

Fangraphs said so and wow he is a great value. Good projections for next season and not expected to do too much with all the big names in front of him. Was the second player that I wanted if I was stuck with the original budget. Price to performance is amazing.

Sign Martín Maldonado

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

Bringing the old friend back is a no brainer and money wise is a swap with Heaney, which is worth it. Makes the defense much better and while the hitting isn’t the best, it will be a huge step up from last year.

Non Tender:

Luis Garcia,

Justin Bour,

Nick Tropeano,

Miguel De Pozo,

and Kaleb Cowart.

Offseason in review:

26 man roster of 13 position players, 12 pitchers, and one Ohtani. (the rules on Two way players may mean that the team will be short a pitcher for a month) All without giving up any players in 2020 that look to do anything meaningful and opens the door for Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh to play with Mike Trout at the same time. (Yes they will start right away, games in April matter.)

With Joe hired and back managing the Angels, the hope is that he is the exorcist that can stop this pitching arms falling off epidemic. If not, well this IIWBE 4 will go down in a blaze of glory much better than JeDi 4 ever did and what matters is trying, I guess. I mean a team with THAT level of SP, Mike Trout, Ohtani, and the rest that doesn’t make the playoffs means the team is cursed.

Quality AND quantity in one offseason and going under the budget by almost 1 million dollars. Here is the roster with the projected FWAR values for next season.

Projected lineup (no Ohtani):

  1. LF Brandon Marsh (N/A)
  2. CF Mike Trout (8.9)
  3. 2B Tommy La Stella (1.8)
  4. RF Jo Adell (N/A)
  5. 1B Matt Thaiss (0.2)
  6. DH Albert Pujols (-0.1)
  7. C Martin Maldanado (1.2)
  8. SS Andrelton Simmons (3.5)
  9. 3B David Fletcher (2)

Projected lineup (w/ Ohtani):

  1. LF Brandon Marsh (N/A)
  2. CF Mike Trout (8.9)
  3. DH Shohei Ohtani (2.7 as a hitter)
  4. RF Jo Adell (N/A)
  5. 2B Tommy La Stella (1.8)
  6. 1B Albert Pujols (-0.1)
  7. C Martin Maldanado (1.2)
  8. SS Andrelton Simmons (3.5)
  9. 3B David Fletcher (2)


  • Luis Rengifo (0.4)
  • Matt Thaiss (0.2)
  • Kevan Smith (0.6)
  • Brian Goodwin (0.1)
  • Taylor Ward (0)

Starting rotation :

  • Gerrit Cole (6.3)
  • Zack Wheeler (3.1)
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu (2.9)
  • Shohei Ohtani (2.8 as a pitcher)
  • Kyle Gibson (2.9)
  • Griffin Canning (2.1)


  • Hansel Robles (0.4)
  • Ty Buttrey (1)
  • Keynan Middleton (-0.1)
  • Noe Ramirez (0.3)
  • Justin Anderson (0.1)
  • Cam Bedrosian (0)
  • Felix Pena (0.1)