For the third straight year, I participated in Royals Review's Offseason Simulation. For the third straight year, I'm writing about it. For the third straight year, only about two of you care.
This is for the two of you. You both inspire me.
The simulation is simple: 30 teams, 30 fake GMs, 30 budgets. There's a neutral party acting as the Scott Boras for every free agent, and he's a danged bloodsucker. My job was to get the fake Giants two starting pitchers and possibly shore up the outfield. I almost succeeded. Almost!
Move #1: Exercise options for Norichika Aoki and Santiago Casilla
Casilla was obvious, but Aoki made sense to me as a fourth outfielder for $5.5 million, even if I picked up a better outfielder. I also declined Marlon Byrd's option.
Move #2: Bid for Kenta Maeda
Having done this before, I know that fake GMs are pretty, pretty loose with their fake money. By putting in a substantial bid for Maeda that seemed excessive, I knew it had a good chance to look reasonable by the end of the simulation. My total bid and salary came out to seven years, $106 million.
At the end of the sim, Mike Leake got six years, $108 million. So you get an idea of this strategy. Get an international starter early, then figure the rest out.
In real life, Maeda might not even be posted. He can be an unrestricted free agent next year (no posting fee required), he'll have virtually no competition on the free agent market, and there are all sorts of reasons for the Carp to keep him instead of take the posting fee. In the fake offseason, he's the new #2 behind Bumgarner.
I would be okay with this.
Move #3: Bid for Ah-seop Son
He profiles similarly to Aoki -- contact, patience, speed -- except everyone's still figuring out how to translate Korean stats. Jung-Ho Kang looks like the steal of last offseason, though, so I figured I'd put a low bid in and see if everyone forgot about him. They did, and I got Son for three years, $9 million. It allowed me to move Aoki if anyone was interested (and a few folks were, though no trade was made).
Move #4: Sign Tim Lincecum to a $2.5 million deal with hella incentives
Sorry, not sorry. I wanted a $1 million deal, but fake Boras put the screws on me. There isn't a lot of risk with $2.5 million, and I'll continue to believe in the one-percent chance that his new robo-hips will offer some sort of reward.
Like I'm going to tick off the even-year gods by not bringing in a ringer like this.
Move #5: Trade Angel Pagan to Brewers for Matt Garza
Before this deal, I was inquiring about Mike Leake, then backed out when the bidding went over $90 million. I was very interested in Wei-Yin Chen, but he went for $86 million and cost a draft pick. Zack Greinke and David Price were clearly out of the question with Maeda.
This trade has a lot of risk attached, considering Garza was awful last year. But it goes along with one of my strongest offseason beliefs, which is that other than upgrading the rotation, the best way to make the Giants better is to start an average-or-better fielder in center. It's the easiest way to get a win. As much as I enjoy Pagan and his general smoldering, this was the best way to guarantee fake Bochy wouldn't start him in center.
I'm not sure if Garza is better than Heston, but he was a solid starter as recently as 2014. It was a $13 million gamble for the next two seasons, which made me feel better than a $90 million gamble on Leake.
Move #6: Look for a starting left fielder with the millions left over
With Garza as the fifth starter, I had about $27 million left to spend on a left fielder. So I started looking at the fancy pantses of the free-agent class. I knew Heyward was going to get way too much, and Alex Gordon was quickly back with the fake Royals, so I focused on Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes.
Yeah, so here's what they signed for:
- Yoenis Cespedes - 7 years, $200 million
- Justin Upton - 8 years, $230 million
My brilliant plan, foiled. I backed out with both players right around the $190 million mark. It's not my fake money, but I was trying to be realistic. Now I had a hole in left and way too much money.
I wondered aloud if there was a way to get a left fielder simply by absorbing a crappy contract.
Move 6a: Trade Rafael Rodriguez to the White Sox for Melky Cabrera
I would troll like this in real life, too. Oh, just give me that chance.
I was looking for someone who could start against left-handers when Aoki or Son was in the lineup. And, well, sorry. This was the least realistic thing I did in the simulation, but I really wouldn't be opposed to a deal like this if the White Sox subsidized Cabrera a little bit.
Move 7: Sign Chris Denorfia to a minor-league deal
He probably won't make the fake team.
That put my fake payroll at $176 million, which is pretty realistic when it comes to avoiding the luxury tax (or at least, not paying a bunch of it). The final roster was:
Yusmeiro Petit (with Lincecum rehabbing/pushing him when ready)
Gregor Blanco - CF
Joe Panik - 2B
Matt Duffy - 3B
Buster Posey - C
Brandon Belt - 1B
Hunter Pence - RF
Brandon Crawford - SS
Melky Cabrera/Nori Aoki - LF
Andrew Susac - C
Ah-seop Son - OF
Ehire Adrianza - INF
Melky Cabrera/Nori Aoki - OF
Kelby Tomlinson - INF
I could have done better. Could have jumped on Gordon earlier, or maybe forced Upton to a take-it-or-leave-it $160 million deal early in the offseason, when people still cared about their fake budgets.
That written, I would be okay with that roster. Mostly because of the building blocks that other people drafted and developed, but I like the lineup depth. I like the potential of Son to push his way into more of a starting role, and I didn't give up any picks or noteworthy prospects. In the event that both Matts in the rotation are as lousy as last season, Susac and Tyler Beede could still be cashed in for a rotation upgrade.
And that's the story of my annual nerdery. Just forget that last year, I signed Pablo Sandoval and Jason Hammel for waaaay too much money, just like the year before I traded Susac and Clayton Blackburn for Joe Kelly, who isn't very good. This year I'm pretty sure I did a good job. Kind of. I mean ... I don't know, maybe.