Welcome to the seventh 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
- Tough #1 starter
- Experienced #5 starter
- Swing man
- Improved Catcher
- Right Field on a budget
- Improved Bullpen
The need for a tough first starter is obvious. What good would it do to make it to the wild card game if what we have to start the game is some guy from the bullpen, a wing, and a prayer? Ohtani, Heaney, and Canning can fill the middle of the rotation, but we have seen how some of the younger guys with options could use a little more seasoning (or to be deprogrammed from Doug White), hence the need for a 5th starter who knows how to be a 5th starter. The swing man is here to be the 5th starter if the 5th starter stinks up the place. (It’s not like it never happened before.) I think you all know why I want an improved catcher. We can’t afford all this and keep Kole Calhoun, so we need a budget right fielder. Finally, while the bullpen was not too shabby while it lasted, there is always room for improvement in a bullpen.
Tommy La Stella and Taylor Ward to the Braves
(for Sean Newcomb and Chad Sobotka). The trade simulator says this is a straight-up even trade. Why would the Braves do this? They already have a lot of good pitchers. Better than ours anyway. Tommy LaStella is a clear upgrade for them at third base both offensively and defensively. Taylor Ward also plays third base and has an option so he can be stashed in the minors and seasoned. Why would the Angels do this? There will be a left handed pitcher in the bullpen who can pitch multiple innings and has experience as a starter. Sobotka, a right handed relief pitcher, is a throw in. He projects to be a beast, though, by Angels standards.
Trade Proposal: Tommy La Stella and Taylor Ward for Sean Newcomb and Chad Sobotka. The Angels shave off $2,315,000 from the payroll on this deal.
Sign Hyun-Jin Ryu
3 years, $54 million [$18M AAV]
This guy is a Boras client so he is not going to be the first move. He is more likely to be the last. I thought the Fangraphs crowd sourced salary prediction was too low so I went with MLBTR estimate of 3 years at 54 million (18 million AAV). We’re going to pay. Let’s hope he stays healthy. At least we do not lose a crucial draft pick here.
Sign Jordan Lyles
2 years $12 million ($6 M AAV)
Jordan Lyles is a swing man but he historically pitches better from the rotation than from the bullpen. This is my candidate to be the experienced 5th starter.
Sign Homer Bailey
1 year, $5 million [$5M AAV]
Here is my swing man. He is here to eat a lot of those innings where the starting pitcher did not make it out of the second or third inning. I do not want the bullpen to be gassed by August. If Lyles falters, Bailey replaces him in the rotation. Bailey can pick up those spot starts that happen because of Ohtani’s unusual pitching schedule.
Sign Travis d’Arnaud
2 year, $10 million [$5M AAV]
Travis d’Arnaud is a far superior hitter to Max Stassi. With him, the Catcher position is no longer an automatic out. Travis d’Arnaud can also play first base. With him, we have another person to spell Albert Pujols when Pujols serves as Designated hitter.
Sign Melky Cabrera
1 year, $1 million [$1M AAV]
Melky Cabrera seems to have an alternating pattern of slightly above average years and then relatively bad years of OPS+ and if that pattern holds 2020 will be one of his slightly above average years. Last year he had a contract of a little over $1.1 million plus incentives. He is another year older and is coming off one of his bad years. I believe he can be had for $1,000,000 in 2020. He can patrol right field until Adell is ready.
Nick Tropeano, Justin Bour (already gone)
Luis Garcia $2.2MM (already gone)
Max Stassi $800K
Offseason in review:
Who’s going to man third base now? Um, Cozart? Assuming Cozart will fail somehow, we have our choice between Thaiss or Fletcher. If it is Fletcher, then Rengifo plays second base. If it is Thaiss, then d’Arnaud plays first base on those days that Albert Pujols gets to be the designated hitter. Obviously, if d’Arnaud plays first base then Kevan Smith starts as catcher on those days.
For the La Stella deal: We add $565,000 for Sobotka and $575,000 for Newcomb while subtracting $555,000 for Ward and a projected $2,900,000 for La Stella. that is a net lowering of the payroll by $2,315,000.
Hyun-Jin Ryu at $18,000,000 plus Jordan Lyles at $6,000,000 plus Homer Bailey at $5,000,000 plus Travis d’Arnaud at $5,000,000 plus Melky Cabrera at $1,000,000 yields a total of $35,000,000. Subtracting the savings of $800,000 from the Stassi non-tender and $2,315,000 in savings from the La Stella deal yields a final payroll of $31,885,000. $2,415,000 of space remains for any last minute deals that may be necessary because of spring training injuries etc.
Here are the team’s depth charts:
Projected lineup (no Ohtani):
Projected lineup (w/ Ohtani):
- Kevan Smith
- Matt Thaiss
Starting rotation :
- Hyun-Jin Ryu Steamer Projected 171 IN and xFIP 3.42
- Shohei Ohtani Steamer Projected 137 IN and xFIP 4.01
- Andrew Heaney Steamer Projected 184 IN and xFIP 4.23
- Griffin Canning Steamer Projected 161 IN and xFIP 4.62
- Jordan Lyles Steamer Projected 150 IN and xFIP 4.86
- Barria/Pena/Suarez/Sandoval (depth/6 man rotation)
- Noe Ramirez Steamer Projected 55 IN and xFIP 4.54
- Cam Bedrosian Steamer Projected 1 IN and xFIP 4.48
- Hansel Robles Steamer Projected 65 IN and xFIP 4.64
- Keynan Middleton Steamer Projected 65 IN and xFIP 5.19
- Ty Buttrey Steamer Projected 65 IN and xFIP 3.97
- Sean Newcomb Steamer Projected 55 IN and xFIP 4.45
- Chad Sobotka Steamer Projected 50 IN and xFIP 4.23
- Homer Bailey Steamer Projected 159 IN and xFIP 4.72