Hole Fillers, Inc. (a-t’s offseason plan)


This is already a very good team. There are All-Stars across the roster, with a few specific holes to patch up. I see the offseason as a time to build a division winner. Nothing can guarantee a World Series win, or even advancement beyond the first round– as the Dodgers and Giants found. Baseball playoff series are largely coin flips, even if the final score is lopsided; keep flipping that coin until three in a row come up Ws and you get a trophy. The most important thing is 1) getting to flip a coin at all, and 2) if at all possible, make it 3 flips to win not 4: you want the division, not a wild card. Winning the division means winning a lot of games, preferably triple digits, and you can’t win a lot of games without depth: look at the Rays, with few stars but an endless supply of position-flexible 2-3 WAR players.

This, alas, means that RF will NOT be addressed with a long-term contract for a guy you can pencil in every day there. There’s two main reasons for this: 1) $170M is a tight cap, and 2) I just don’t love any of the RF options on the market. For instance, Conforto is 28 and a LHB, but his offense was down a lot this year and his glove is pretty bad. S. Marte played fantastic, but he’s 33, more of a CF and derives some his value from playing there, and a RHB, I don’t expect another year like this from him. Schwarber should be platooned and given DH at-bats, just like Sheets. Pederson has the downsides of both Conforto and Schwarber. My ideal candidate for a long-term RF solution, NPB star Seiya Suzuki, is a 27-year-old on his way to his second MVP and a Central League triple-slash Triple Crown over in Japan. He’s currently hitting .319/.435/.634 with a league-leading 38 homers, plus 3 Gold Gloves in his past if you doubt his defense. Unfortunately, he just isn’t available at all if his team doesn’t post him.


  • Lucas Giolito: $7.9M Tender. Obviously.
  • Reynaldo López: $2.8M Tender. Swingman/6th SP role will be his again.
  • Evan Marshall: $2.3M Nontender. Not paying arb3 for TJS rehab year.
  • Adam Engel: $2.2M Tender, much like his hamstrings.
  • Brian Goodwin: $1.7M Nontender, spring training invite.
  • Jimmy Cordero: $1.2M Tender, assuming TJS rehab is going well.
  • Jace Fry: $1M Tender. I have a plan for him.


Write “pick up” or “decline” or “rework” after the option.

  • Craig Kimbrel: $16M ($1M buyout) Pick up. He’ll still be packing his bags, though.
  • César Hernández: $6M Decline, unless someone wants him in trade, for say a minor league reliever even.


Try to retain, extend qualifying offer, or let go?

  • Leury García (Made $3.5M in 2021): Re-sign for 3 years/$13.5M ($4.5M AAV) Depth, flexibility, etc. is a requirement not a luxury. He better keep walking, though.
  • Carlos Rodón ($3M): Extend him the $18.6M qualifying offer, which I would expect him to sign– if he declines, then they re-sign him to a 1-year “pillow” contract that’s basically the same thing for a couple million more. Rodon and his agent (Boras ofc) understand that he likely stands to make much, much more money if he has another mostly successful and healthy year in ‘22 and tries the market again. Right now there are barriers– chiefly, teams don’t trust this year’s performance will continue to be how he pitches, for health not talent reasons of course, but also the upcoming lockout & new CBA + the QO draft pick penalty. It makes more sense for that pillow contract to be here in Chicago than it does anywhere else; ‘Los clearly likes the org and the pitching coach who helped him break out, else he wouldn’t have come back after being non-tendered, and the Sox are the only team that wouldn’t have to pay a draft pick penalty– a steep price for a 1-year contract– to sign him for 2022.
  • Billy Hamilton ($1M): Let go, but offer a ST invite. Maybe the new righty-on-righty swing will unlock something like Cedric Mullins, if not to that degree.
  • Ryan Tepera ($950K): Offer 2 year/$8M extension. He’s 33 but he depends on the slider and its command, not fastball velo.


List three free-agent targets you’d pursue during the offseason, with a reasonable contract.

No. 1: Chris Taylor, 31y/o MIF/OF, 3 years/$36M guaranteed, plus 1 year/$14M team option w/ $3M buyout. Flexibility and depth personified. You may ask– do we really need him with Leury resigned? Short answer: yes. Unless you want to bank on the Goodwins and Hamiltons of the world being miraculously competent again. Taylor is a 3-win player that can cover half the field. You may recall, a little painfully, TLR’s statement that Leury is a “everyday player that plays everywhere” or whatever, which isn’t ideal because Leury’s career wRC+ is a less-than-inspiring 80. Taylor’s career wRC+ mark is 111.

The Dodgers now have even better MIF/OF Trea Turner in the fold, and will no doubt be spending a great deal of money on Corey Seager or another one of the soon to be very rich SS FAs. They also have the pride of Kenosha, Gavin Lux, to give PAs to. That means Taylor may be up for grabs, not unlike how Enrique Hernandez was this past offseason– Boston is certainly very pleased with that signing.

With Taylor in the fold, RF has a safe 3-WAR floor if Engel *and* Sheets aren’t playable there, for either health or performance reasons. That’s the worst case, assuming the generally durable Taylor doesn’t develop an appetite for running into walls. Taylor makes so much sense here.

No. 2: Roberto Perez, 33 y/o C, 2 years/$7M: Backup C is clearly a need. Perez has, at least historically, provided pretty good defense and occasional pop, plus veteran shepherding of the pitching staff. Basically, a fully realized Seby Zavala. Were Grandal to be hurt again, Perez starting for a while would be perfectly acceptable. It’s a small bonus that he’s been catching for a smart division rival for a while, so this contract also pays for a bit of ‘espionage’– no player would know more about Cleveland’s secret recipes than their hopefully-soon-to-be-former veteran catcher.

Perez has a team option for ‘22 for $7M, which Cleveland will likely decline; he wasn’t healthy this year, so both his offense and framing suffered significantly and he ended up sub-replacement value. I think he’ll rebound, but if not then at least there’s the espionage. Which I somehow doubt Seby Zavala can supply.

No. 3: A hitting coach who does not scorn the home run. Menechino deserves credit for what he did– several guys improved their plate discipline very noticeably, even drastically, and that’s no small feat. That said, this is a power-filled lineup with a short-fenced Midwestern home field. The ball should be leaving the yard early and often. Walk rates will improve when pitchers fear throwing the ball in the zone. Hopefully the strikeout rates can stay down too.


Propose trades that you think sound reasonable for both sides, and the rationale behind them.

No. 1: Trade CL Craig Kimbrel and LHRP Jace Fry to the San Diego Padres for 2B Adam Frazier.

A swap of disappointing deadline acquisitions is in the works here. Lost among San Diego’s many other struggles was their bullpen collapsing between departures, underperformance, and injuries. Kimbrel is the kind of big name that Preller loves to gun for. Fry is erratic, but he’s always gotten weak contact and strikeouts, he just needs to put the ball in the zone, and there isn’t a single credible lefty in that SD pen right now. Pomeranz is recovering from flexor tendon surgery, Weathers is needed in the rotation, and the LHRP with the next most innings for the 2021 Padres isn’t even on the roster because he got DFAed.

We’re pretty familiar with Frazier from the deadline rumors. He didn’t fare so well in SD; his BABIP and ISO both fell about 60 points and his walk rate fell a couple points, which to me indicates he just slumped overall. He’s Madrigal-esque but hits lefty. He’s in arb 3, projected to make $7.5M, so SDP would be taking on money ($9.5M) here, but that hasn’t been an issue for them in the past. It’s also possible that Kimbrel for Frazier straight-up works, in which case Fry gets a shot in the Chicago bullpen again for that $1M.

No. 2: Trade well-done LH SP Dallas Keuchel, 3B Jake Burger, OF/DH Micker Adolfo, and “C”/1B Zack Collins to the Washington Nationals for PTBNL, i.e. salary relief.

This is a classic salary dump with a prospect we can’t play trade. Dallas looks, while not unplayable, pretty bad for a guy making $18M to throw 87 mph with his left hand. I would simply much rather pay Rodon $18M to throw 10 mph faster with his left hand, to much greater effect. Maybe Washington fixes him or he gets batted ball luck that lets him be traded at the deadline for something, but basically worst case scenario for them he spends a year eating innings for a 5 ERA for a lot of money and then he’s gone.

Burger, rather miraculously, looks like he’s probably a major league ready 2-3 WAR 3B, and would presumably last a lot longer than Dallas Keuchel. He looks at least playable on both ends. Adolfo is a good candidate for a rebuilding team that suddenly has a need for a DH, and he’s Rule V eligible this winter anyways. I don’t even know if Washington would want to take Collins, just get him outta my sight please god.

Of the rebuilding teams, Washington makes the most sense to me bc 1) they don’t currently have a bounty of young arms that need major league innings, like Miami or Detroit 2) nor do they have a 3B prospect of note that will need MLB at-bats soonish, unlike TEX, BAL, or PIT (Jung, Henderson, Hayes respectively) and 3) the Nats ownership tends to be more willing to spend and less willing to be bad than these other rebuilding franchises, so taking on money for a MLB-ready guy makes sense.

Another pair of teams that aren’t exactly rebuilding but might be interested are Kansas City and Seattle. KC’s FO is a little weird and might think it’s getting one over Chicago bc it doesn’t think Keuchel is cooked; Trader Jerry in Seattle might look beyond Abraham Toro to replace the franchise pillar Kyle Seager, who isn’t retiring but DiPoto loathes for whatever reason and refuses to extend or even speak to. Also, the cool damp Seattle air might help Keuchel not give up so many bombs, they’ve had success with soft-tossing lefties for a while there. A final possibility is Colorado, because that front office is a little crazy, plus they’re still obsessed with the ground ball from their pitchers.

I don’t care who comes back, bc I assume no one of any note, so he better not cost anything.


Roster and salaries:

Position players:

  1. C Yasmani Grandal $18.25M
  2. C Roberto Perez $3.5M
  3. 1B Jose Abreu $19.66M
  4. 1B/DH/OF Andrew Vaughn $0.575M
  5. 1B/DH/OF Gavin Sheets $0.575M
  6. 2B Adam Frazier $7.5M (arb proj)
  7. UTIL Chris Taylor $12M
  8. UTIL Leury Garcia $4.5M
  9. 3B Yoan Moncada $13.8M
  10. SS Tim Anderson $9.5M
  11. LF Eloy Jimenez $7.33M
  12. CF Luis Robert $6M
  13. OF Adam Engel $2.25 (arb proj)


  1. SP Lance Lynn $18.5M
  2. SP Carlos Rodon $18.6M
  3. SP Lucas Giolito $7.9M
  4. SP Dylan Cease $0.575M
  5. SP Michael Kopech $0.575M


  1. CL Liam Hendriks  $13.3M
  2. LHRP Aaron Bummer $2.5M
  3. RHRP Ryan Tepera $4M
  4. LHRP Garrett Crochet $0.575M
  5. RHRP Jimmy Cordero $1.2M
  6. RHRP Jose Ruiz $0.575M
  7. RHRP Ryan Burr $0.575M
  8. RHRP Reynaldo Lopez $2.75M

Total salary:

  • Position players: $105.44M
  • Rotation: $46.15M
  • Bullpen: $25.48M
  • Total: $177.07M

Yes, it’s over the budget limit of $170M. This is a very restrained offseason plan that cuts out virtually all unwanted salary, unless you wanted to be extremely cutthroat and dump Pito unceremoniously, and it’s still $7M over the budget limit. The conclusion that must be reached is that $170M- again, only $2.5M beyond the current obligations (were both team options picked up) is unrealistically low for this team to get noticeably better in the offseason. Either Jerry needs to give Hahn and co. a chunk more of change to work with, or Hahn and co. need to find another team or two to virtually rip off like they did Texas for Lynn somehow.

As for the roster itself, price aside, I believe Leury would be the worst player in the position player group, and that’s a good thing (no offense to him).The rotation is not without a little shakiness– I don’t *totally* trust anyone but Giolito and Lynn to stay healthy and effective– but will very likely be a top 5 unit again. The front end of the bullpen is not exactly shutdown, however. That’s okay, though, because the back end should be pretty stout again, and the Burr/Cordero/Ruiz trio would be in open competition with Lambert, Foster, Stiever, and whatever spring training invites impress. Overall, this looks like a roster that has the division in the bag again, if Jerry will loan me but a piddling seven million dollars.

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I like this plan a lot. You fill the necessary holes & come in at a reasonable cost. Well done