Otter’s Offseason Plan

PREAMBLE

Before we get to all this (and I realize I’m late on two of these choices, but life happens!) let me get this out of the way: I’d fire Rick Hahn. I haven’t given a ton of thought about who I’d replace him with, so you can criticize me for looking before I leap, but Hahn really hasn’t done anything to show he can pull off the rebuild. I’m not sure what his last good MLB signing, or trade was—if it even exists. Maybe David Robertson? And while his trades of Quintana and Sale were fair to good deals (even with the Red Sox winning the World Series this year), the Sox minor league system probably should be better than it is. The Rays, Nats, Dodgers, and others seem to continuously sign studs out of Latin America… the Sox have Luis “all the tools, but always hurt and finally hit a professional home run” Robert. The James Shields trade, leaving aside the fact that they a) completely mis-scouted Shields and b) completely mis-scouted Tatis, screams of failure up and down the organization. They’re all in only to be all out four months later? Who decided to be all in, but then signed off on all out? If it’s ownership, then it’s a bigger issue than *just* Hahn. But Hahn should be telling ownership what’s best to do. The entire thought process behind the Shields trade, and then sell off, and then the clear failure at major and minor league player evaluation is an entire organization failure. And no one, NO ONE, has been held accountable for this failure.

That said… the 2019 Sox should be a bit better, but getting to .500 is going to be tough without some huge turnaround from the pitching staff… which needs to replace roughly 350 below replacement level innings (I’m including Volstad here). Finding replacement level pitching is easier said than done and the Sox need to find a lot of innings. With Kopech on the shelf and no one in the minors looking ready to join the MLB club until around the All-Star break at the earliest, the Sox, right now, are probably looking at another top 8 pick in 2020 unless Giolito makes a gigantic jump and Rodon looks more like pre-shoulder injury Carlos Rodon.

Also, Machado and Harper are not signing here and everyone else would just be a crowd pleaser as opposed to someone who actually fits whatever plan the Sox might actually have (ie, being good between 2020 – 2024), but I have my doubts about them actually having a plan.

Ugh.

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE PLAYERS

  • Jose Abreu, $16M – TENDER
  • Avisail Garcia, $8M – TENDER
  • Yolmer Sanchez, $4.7M – TENDER
  • Carlos Rodon, $3.7M – TENDER
  • Matt Davidson, $2.4M – TENDER
  • Leury Garcia, $1.9M – TENDER
  • Danny Farquhar, $1.4M – NON-TENDER, SIGN TO MILB DEAL

I guess Avi is the only ‘controversial’ decision here, but he offers more upside than any other current outfield option. If he has a nice season, he can be moved (not for much of course) and he misses half the year with injuries, it won’t break the bank for the Sox.

CLUB OPTIONS

  • Nate Jones, $4.65 million – PICK UP
  • James Shields, $2M buyout – BUYOUT

Jones offers upside, though odds are he probably nearing the end of his MLB career. But if he stays healthy next year, another arm that can be flipped in June or July. I’m not holding my breath. I enjoyed nothing about the James Shields era and considering what the Sox gave up to get him, it looks like it will be the worst trade in my Sox lifetime. GMs usually get fired for trades like this. Rick Hahn somehow convinced ownership to tear it down after this.

OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS

  • Miguel Gonzalez – LET GO
  • Hector Santiago – LET GO

Adios somewhat expensive below replacement level pitching.

FREE AGENTS

Donaldson is too old for the Sox “plan”. I will be very unhappy if the Sox sign him. Trying to look at where the Sox need help in 2019 and 2020, it seems to me that the Sox need a catcher, a corner bat(s), and pitching. Lots of pitching. Most other positions can, most likely, be filled internally (hopefully).

Sign Yasmani Grandal, 4 years, $72 million but structured

  • 2019: $22m
  • 2020: $20m
  • 2021: $16m
  • 2022: $14m

Zach Collins seems destined for first. Seby Zavala might be more than a backup catcher, but I’m not willing to pencil him in as a #1 catcher in 2020, and for sure not 2019. We know Omar Narvaez can be a fine backup catcher even with poor framing numbers.

Grandal has pop, but more importantly, he’s a good/great framing catcher and still young enough that I’m not too concerned that his numbers will drop off at least in the first two years of the contract. This is a move that would help the pitching staff, something that’s greatly needed in the years to come.

Maybe the Sox can get him for slightly less, but my guess is it’s going to take a little more for him to come here over staying in LA or going to another contender.

Sign Drew Pomeranz, 1 year, $6 million

The Sox have A LOT OF STARTING PITCHING QUESTIONS!!!! So signing at least one arm is a necessity.

Back in July, it looked like the Sox might have been able to make a play at Patrick Corbin but he continued to pitch his way out of the White Sox price range. Darn. Drew Pomeranz had two nice seasons before this year. But everything went sideways, though some of it was bad luck, and his velocity dropped. Not ideal. But there’s some upside here and if he can rebound a bit, he’ll give the Sox innings plus the chance to resign him. If things go great, they can slap a qualifying offer on him. However, the fact he wasn’t used in an 18 inning baseball game is #notgreat.

TRADES

Trade Welington Castillo for Francisco Morales (Phillies)

With Grandal on the team, Castillo is easily expendable. Narvaez is the backup, Zavala is in AAA, Castillo was meh to bad and got busted for PEDs. The Phillies need another catcher, and Castillo won’t cost them much. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sox picked up some of his salary. Morales is a young arm that might pop and isn’t need to be protected on the 40 man.

Trade for Lincoln Henzman, Jace Fry, and Carson Fulmer for Jacoby Ellsbury, Sonny Gray, and Miguel Andujar

In my world, Manny Machado signs with the Yankees leaving one of Didi Gregorius or Andujar expendable. The Yankees can use Andujar to get rid of Ellsbury’s contract which will save them more than the $47m that Ellsbury’s is owed over the next two seasons ($21m plus a $5m buyout after 2020) because of the luxury tax.

Gray is entering his final arbitration year and is projected to make $9 million. Andujar has five years of control remaining and will not be a super two. Ellsbury is a sunk cost at this point. The Yankees have said they’re looking to move Gray, and his contract is a tad below his value as a pitcher, but he’s a FA after 2019. Andujar probably is looking at a surplus of roughly $80 million over the remaining five years of team control.

There’s a huge question mark surrounding Andujar… is he as bad defensively as the metrics say he was last year? And its not like he was an on base machine either… but he did put up a 2.7 fWAR with a 128 wRC+… but a -15 UZR.

In return the Sox send Fry to help the Yankees bullpen which figures to lose at least Robertson. The Sox ruined Fulmer but he still has some value, most likely as a reliver. Will it suck watching the Yankees turn Fulmer into a dominating 8th inning guy? Yes. But the Sox development of Fulmer was an utter disaster. It’s time for everyone to move on, sadly.

Why do the Yankees do this? Well they get a bullpen arm, probably two, at little cost. Henzman has upside and doesn’t need to be put on the 40 man. They move off Ellsbury contract, find a suitor for Gray, and it costs them Andujar, who is expendable with Machado in pinstripes.

The Sox are taking on a ton of salary this year and next, but they’ve also hopefully gotten their third baseman of the future. This allows them to focus on signing starting pitching next winter. Gray might have a nice rebound and they could flip him at the deadline or give him the QO after the year. If not, he should at the very least give the Sox what he did last year which they desperately need. Ellsbury is probably done, but maybe he can run around in center for a few games here or there. Or insurance can pay him. It’s not ideal to have his contract on the books in 2020, but that is the cost of doing business here. (For those who think the Sox won’t take on his salary, the Bulls made a similar deal in the winter taking on Aisk’s contract (which was a sunk cost) and getting a 1st in return).

SUMMARY

Your 2019 lineup looks like this:

C – Yasmani Grandal

1B – Jose Abreu

2B – Yoan Moncada

3B – Miguel Andujar

SS – Tim Anderson

LF – Eloy Jimenez

CF – Leury Garcia

RF – Avi Garcia

DH – Daniel Palka

Bench: Yolmer, Narvaez, Davidson, Engel (if Ellsbury can actually play, Engel would go to AAA until Leury or Jacoby gets hurt)

Starting Pitching:

  1. Carlos Rodon
  2. Sonny Gray
  3. Reynaldo Lopez
  4. Lucas Giolito
  5. Drew Pomeranz

Bullpen: Jones, Hamilton, Burr, Bummer, Minaya, Vieira, Covey (or something like that).

I think that works… I hope I didn’t over look any crappy 27 year old here.

This team might be good enough to finish second in a laughably bad AL Central with 78 wins. I know that’s a 16 game improvement, but by baseruns it’s “only” a 11 game improvement. The moves laid out here, plus Eloy and hopefully some improvement from Moncada and Giolito, should get them close to a 10 game improvement.

I’m under $110 million for 2019 and the Sox would be projected to have just under $70 million committed to the 2020 team. That would leave something like $50 million to sign a front line starter (Gerrit Cole or Madison Bumgarner) and improve the bullpen.

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Patrick Nolan

Grandal, Pomeranz, and trading Castillo for literally anything are all pretty good ideas. I think you didn’t give up anywhere close to enough for Andujar/Gray/Ellsbury, nor are the Yankees a good target for a young-guys-for-MLB-talent deal.

Eagle Bones

Yeah, I’m in on the three deals you mentioned. The Yankee deal made my head hurt trying to figure out the value proposition, but as you said, they’re not a good target to trade those kinds close-to-MLB but not proven guys to given their 40-man situation.

Patrick Nolan

Ellsbury’s making $47M over the last two years of the deal, so you seem to be immediately considering all of that dead weight, which seems wrong.

In any event, you’re approaching this on an aggregate, linear $/WAR basis which isn’t the best way to think about it. Fulmer is weightless in trade and looks the part. Henzman is similarly weightless….he’s a lotto ticket. The only asset you’re really giving the Yankees is Fry, and you have to ask yourself whether a good reliever is worth giving up 1) a 23-year-old, starting-caliber, cost-controlled third baseman, 2) an overpaid, yet playable outfielder, and 3) a year of a back-end starter. I’ll contend that the Yankees should balk at this on a pure value-for-value basis, but it gets even more hard to fathom when you consider that the Yankees are 1) rich and 2) a win-now team and in this deal are 1) salary dumping and 2) trading present-for-future more than the reverse.

ndsoxfan

I like the idea even if it is a stretch.  Calling Ellsbury playable after he just sat an entire season is questionable at best.  The bigger issue in my mind would be why wouldn’t they just more Andujar to 1B if they get Machado

Eagle Bones

Because his bat isn’t really that great if he’s 1B-only. If other teams think he can stick at 3B (which seems questionable at this point), he’s probably more valuable as a trade piece.

ImmortalTimeTravelMan

Yankees could get a lot more for Andujar…