Hello Halos Heaven! My name is Nick, I'm a long time reader and first time poster (I know, kind of over doing it for a first post).
I really enjoy the articles on this site, been a long time fan of the Angels. Little back story, my dad is originally from Waukegan, IL and a Cubs fan. He moved to CA and hated the Doyers so decided to root for the Angels from then on. Fast forward to 1985 and I too became an Angels fan. Growing up a 90's kid, Griffey was my favorite player, Tim Salmon and Garrett Anderson were my favorite Angels (Trout is now).
Best game I ever went to was in 1995, it was against the Mariners at home. It was for my birthday, with my dad. I got to see Griffey hit a homerun and then the Angels won the game on a walk-off single by Tony Phillips (too bad the season didn't have the same type of finish).
Anyways, I also enjoy writing as a hobby and I find the Eppler Off-season prediction articles to be pretty fun, thought I would do my own, feel free to jump all over it just be nice lol I'm only doing this for the fun of it.
I did my best to stay within the rules, I used the FA predictions off MLBTR.com and the trade simulator to test my theoretical trades. I used the $34.3 million as my spending limit for the year and tried to be as realistic as possible which to be fair, was near impossible with these moves.
Priorities: Pitching, more pitching, maybe some pitching after that. Greatly improve the 26 man roster. Keep Jo Adell.
Outcome: I greatly improved the 26 man roster, while greatly thinning the 40 man and farm system. What did my off-season end with? A great team that should win a lot of games but has no depth beyond the starters. I went for broke though to build the best team I could so without further ado, here are all the moves and break down:
SIGN ZACK WHEELER: 5 YEARS 108 MILLION (21.5 AAV)
My goal was to STACK the starting rotation. We want to get Gerrit Cole, money and destination won't be enough, he wants to go to a team that will win as well. Which is why I went after Zack Wheeler first (spoiler alert for what's coming). Wheeler is arguably the 3rd best pitcher to be had and will most likely end up with more money than what I offered. I did sign him for above the predicted contract however to stay somewhat realistic and I feel this deal gets it done. The contract will be be back loaded, payouts will be 14m, 19m, 23m, 25m and 27m. This will be a theme throughout and the only way to get my off-season done within the spending limit.
SIGN GERRIT COLE: 8 YEARS 260 MILLION (32.5M AAV)
And there it is. Yes, we need Gerrit Cole, plain and simple. I could go the old Angels free agent method of thinking (Why pay Nolan Ryan all that money when we can just get two 10-win pitchers...) but if we want Trout in the playoffs and we even want a shot at sniffing the playoffs, this has to happen. With Cole and Wheeler at the top of the rotation, we instantly improve and have a legit chance to win 2 out of every 5 games, a lot better than we could say the last 4 seasons. Again his deal is back-loaded and if winning is his priority and we lay out to him our off-season needs, I don't see why he would object. Contract goes 24 m, 27m, 32m, 34m, 35m, and 36m each of the final 3 years. And only reason I put him 2nd is because Scott Boras will drag this out and we need to show Cole we mean business with winning; we sign Cole late but we do sign him. I bet you're thinking we're good at starting rotation now, right? In case you forgot, I said STACKED. So...
SIGN DALLAS KEUCHEL: 3 YEARS 42 MILLION (14M AAV)
I'm not messing around, here. Keuchel is no longer an ace and probably not even good enough to be a #2 on most rotations. But as our #3 for the first year until Ohtani can get some experience, he should do great. The lack of Draft compensation helps this signing and I feel this deal is the most affordable with the highest upside. MLBTR.com agrees with the salary so this gets it done. Another back-loaded contract and it looks like; 13m, 14m, 15m. The 3 deals already puts me way over budget, so here's where things get creative/crazy...
SIGN ANDRELTON SIMMONS TO EXTENSION: 3 YEARS 38 MILLION W/ 4TH YEAR OPTION AT 15M OR 4M BUYOUT (12.7M AAV)
This deal absolutely has to happen to make the other deals work (within the budget). If this deal doesn't happen, admittedly, the rest all falls apart. However, the likelihood is high that an extension can happen. Simmons has expressed his love of playing for the Angels and this salary, while a hometown discount, is pretty competitive compared to what he might get were he a free agent. Signing him to this extension restructures his current contract and puts his 2020 salary at 10m, then 13m, 15m and either another 15m or a 4m buyout. Doing this saves 5m this year.
TRADE ZACK COZART, BRANDON MARSH AND JEREMIAH JACKSON TO INDIANS FOR AARON CIVALE AND NICK WITTGREN
Ouch, yeah I know. I'm keeping Adell no matter what but the reality is if we want to go all out this season, painful decisions must be made. This trade is purely salary dump (Cozart). We need his salary off the books to make the other stuff happen and that's going to cost us. Now why would the Indians do this? They most likely wouldn't. However, the trade simulator approved it and in a crazy world, where the Indians trade Lindor and need help at shortstop, this could possible get done. Adding March AND Jackson to the trade makes it very appealing to the Indians, looking to get younger and build for their next window post Lindor. The Angels for their sacrifice, get a good starting pitcher with a lot of control and a lot of upside and a strong relief pitcher to bolster the bullpen. This trade saves the Angels 10.8m in 2020 (damn you Cozart).
TRADE JORDYN ADAMS, CAM BEDROSIAN AND ANDREW HEANEY + 2M CASH TO CUBS FOR WILLSON CONTRERAS AND JONATHAN SIERRA.
Another ouch, though not as painful. With all the starting rotation and bullpen moves (coming up), the Angels have a few pitchers to expend. With the need to shed more salary and upgrade at catcher, the Angles turn to the Cubs to get Contreras. Again, this deal seems highly unlikely but the trade simulator had no problems with it. It does make some sense on the surface, Cubs need a cost effective 5th starter and could use bullpen help and Jordyn Adams provides them with an answer at outfield once they are free of Heyward. The 2m cash we throw in alleviates some of the cost of Heaney and yet this deal still saves the Angels 1.7m. Jonathan Sierra is a low level outfield prospect in the Cubs farm, a throw in to cover a little of the losses to our outfield farm depth.
SIGN ERIC THAMES: 1 YEAR 1.5 MILLION
Eric Thames is a less expensive version of Brian Goodwin, with more power and OBP but far less defensive ratings (which is scary because Goodwin isn't great defensively either). He can play 1st base, albeit poorly, which provides some versatility and he's really only a place holder until Adell is ready. Signing Thames makes Goodwin expendable, more on that later.
TRADE LEONARDO RIVAS TO GIANTS FOR TONY WATSON + 1M CASH
Leonardo Rivas is a low level SS prospect in the Angels farm you've probably never heard of. I didn't anyway, until looking for a match in the trade simulator to get Watson, who is the meat of this trade. Tony Watson is an above average relief pitcher but more importantly, a LEFT handed above average relief pitcher. Something the Angels haven't had but needed for a while now. Watson is in his final year, the Giants aren't competing and they know it. This deal gets done simply because the Giants don't want to get nothing for Watson before he's gone. The 1m throw in makes the deal more even yet Watson's contract still adds 1.5m to the Angels budget.
TRADE BRIAN GOODWIN, NOE RAMIREZ TO NATIONALS FOR TANNER RAINEY
Of all the trade proposals, this one actually makes the most sense. The Nats will need outfield help with Howie on his way out and they can definitely use experienced relief pitching. Our target is Tanner Rainey to get some good cost controlled relief pitching, which makes Noe expendable and a good known quantity at relief who should do well in the NL and whom the Nats will want to provide bullpen relief. This deal saves the Angels 2.5m.
SIGN JC RAMIREZ: 1 YEAR 1 MILLION MINOR LEAGUE DEAL
Well look who it is. With the Angles history on injuries, depth is a must. It's admittedly thin and non-existent after the starting five, doing this adds a little help in the minors in case of injury. JC Ramirez elected free agency earlier this year and then kind of disappeared. I don't envision a huge market for him, I think this deal gets him to bite. Welcome back, JC!
NON-TENDER JUSTIN BOUR, NICK TROPEANO, MAX STASSI AND LUIS GARCIA.
Max Stassi is the only new non-tender, saving 800k in the budget.
Phew! And that's the off-season, wow is this an If I were Billy Eppler or Jerry Dipoto..? That's a lot of moving parts and A LOT of things that have to go right in order for it all to work, however, if my math is correct (I'll take close), doing all this puts us right at 34.2 Million on the year and makes us instant contenders in my opinion. Now, as far as the budget outlook for 2021 and 22? Look away, pay no attention to that, just be happy with what I've done in 2020! It's an Angel's miracle if I do say so, myself. With all those moves, the roster now goes as follows:
Griffin Canning (Jose Suarez, Patrick Sandoval, JC Ramirez, Dillon Peters as depth)
Tony Watson (Lefty)
Jaime Barria (Swingman/Spot Starter)
Felix Pena (Long Man)
LINEUP (NO OHTANI):
Albert Pujols (DH)
Shohei Ohtani (DH)
Not too shabby and it will only get better once Adell joins the team and deepens the lineup even further, making either Thames or Hermosillo expendable for a mid-season move if Adell sticks. This obviously put the team in absolute win-now mode for the next 3+ years, the contracts though, are structured hopefully to allow for more moves in the coming years, once Keuchel gets older and we start getting to the end of Cole's contract as well. This will give the Angels time to start re-stocking the farm and developing players and gives them a good 5 year window of winning in my opinion before either resetting or going big again.
And that's it, let me know what you think! Thanks for all the awesome Angels articles, looking forward to this post getting torn apart when most of it probably doesn't happen...