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If I were Billy Eppler..., Part VIII

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Welcome home, Gerrit.

MLB: World Series-Houston Astros at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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

Part 1: Jessica DeLine

Part 2: H.T. Ennis

Part 3: Noy Telinu

Part 4: Jeff Joiner

Part 5: Chase Kimura

Part 6: Turks Teeth

Part 7: Charles Sutton

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. True Number 1 Starting Pitcher

2. Another SP

3. Catcher

4. Veteran Reliever

It is no secret that the Angels are desperately in need for pitching. More specifically, their rotation lacks top of the rotation arms. Lucky for them, they have a lot of money to work with and a lot of options on the free agent market to fill these needs. If the Angels are going to sniff getting back in the playoffs in 2020, it starts with adding top of the line starting pitching. In terms of position players, they seem to be set everywhere except at the catching position. Adding a cheap catcher that is solid defensively, and has offensive upside, is definitely something that should be looked at. The current depth chart at the position includes Max Stassi, Kevan Smith, and not much else. The bullpen is also pretty much set and has lots of potential to be very good in 2020, but adding one more piece definitely would not hurt anything.


Sign Gerrit Cole

8 years, $264 million [$33M AAV]

This is the obvious move that the majority of Angels fans are hoping for. It makes too much sense for multiple reasons. He’s the best pitcher on the planet at the moment and he is without a doubt the guy the Angels so desperately need. Back loading the contract would be a viable option, considering their is a lot of money coming off the books in the coming years. For the first year, $20 million, second year, $25 million, and then $36.5 million for the remaining 6 years. Obviously this is a pretty heavy back load, but you have Cozart and Simba (about $27.5 million) coming off after next season, Pujols ($30 million) the following year, and then the year after Upton ($28 million). After these contracts come off the books they start to become more flexible, and will be able to take on the extra money on Cole’s contract.

Sign Zack Wheeler

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

Signing Cole would be huge, but it would not be enough to completely fix the rotation. They would still need another middle to front line starter, and that’s where Wheeler comes in. Wheeler has been very good the last two seasons, combining to throw 377.2 innings, with a strikeout rate of about a strikeout per inning. At 29 years old, presumably in the middle of his prime, he would be a great investment, and a solid guy to slot behind Cole in the rotation. I would back load this contract as well, having Wheeler take home $9 million in 2020, and $21 million in the remaining 3 years.

Sign Travis d’Arnaud

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

In 2019 d’Arnaud had quite the bounce back campaign once being traded to Tampa Bay. He is solid defensively and was solid at the plate as well last year, with a .745 OPS, which is about league average. He did show power as well, homering 16 times in 351 AB’s. If d’Arnaud was able to stay healthy he would provide stability behind the plate, while allowing Max Stassi to be put into the back up role. d’Arnaud is also able to play first base, which could help with getting Albert his days off. I would structure the contract to have him make $3 million in 2020, and $6 million in 2020.

Sign Pedro Strop

1 year, $3 million

Strop is a nice bounce back candidate that could be a nice addition to an already dangerous bullpen. This is not as risky of a one year deal as Cody Allen was last year. Strop was very good from 2014-2018, but fell off a little last year. He also has tons of experience with a certain manager that will be managing in Anaheim next season.

Non-Tender

Nick Tropeano, Luis Garcia, Justin Bour (already gone)


Offseason in review:

Signing Gerrit Cole was the priority for me above anything else. Then you sign Zack Wheeler and your rotation really starts to come together. d’Arnaud is the must needed upgrade at catcher and Strop is a nice addition to a talented bullpen. I opted to not make any trades in this because I personally do not want to part ways with any of our top prospects, and don’t see any way to either acquire pitching or dump salary through the trade market.

CALCULATIONS:

I back loaded the Cole and Wheeler contracts so that they would be doable until some big contracts start coming off the books in the coming years. For 2020, I added $20 million for Cole and $9 million for Wheeler, plus $3 million for each d’Arnaud and Strop. That puts the added payroll for 2020 at $36 million which is close enough to the estimated $175 million.

Projected lineup (w/ Ohtani)

  1. 2B Tommy La Stella
  2. CF Mike Trout
  3. DH Shohei Ohtani
  4. RF Jo Adell
  5. LF Justin Upton
  6. 1B Albert Pujols
  7. SS Andrelton Simmons
  8. C Travis d’Arnaud
  9. 3B David Fletcher

Projected lineup (no Ohtani)

  1. 2B Tommy La Stella
  2. CF Mike Trout
  3. LF Justin Upton
  4. RF Jo Adell
  5. DH Albert Pujols
  6. SS Andrelton Simmons
  7. 1B Thaiss/d’Arnaud
  8. C d’Arnaud/Stassi
  9. 3B David Fletcher

Bench:

  • Matt Thaiss
  • Luis Rengifo
  • Brian Goodwin
  • Max Stassi
  • Zack Cozart

Starting Rotation

  1. Gerrit Cole
  2. Zack Wheeler
  3. Shohei Ohtani
  4. Griffin Canning
  5. Andrew Heaney
  6. Felix Pena

Bullpen:

  • Hansel Robles
  • Ty Buttrey
  • Keynan Middleton
  • Cam Bedrosian
  • Justin Anderson
  • Pedro Strop
  • Luke Bard