No products in the cart.
I made a habit of turning in my homework late back when I was in school, so here’s my OPP with the added benefit of some hindsight (QO’s, player options, and some FA moves) that many of you didn’t have. My plan, as suggested in the title, hinges heavily upon Abreu accepting an extension that gives him a major pay cut this year but keeps him around two more years beyond 2022 at a price that won’t hurt too bad if he’s no longer rosterable as he ages. It was Abreu’s review podcast that dropped a day or two ago that gave me this idea. The end of 2022 would be an ideal time for a club to walk away from Abreu, but we all know that Jerry’s loyalty runs deep. Perhaps Abreu’s loyalty is equally deep and he will forgo some $$$ in this, his final contract year, to stick around a little longer.
I marked the sections where I kinda cheated with an asterisk since I completed this OPP so late. The Sox and I differed on a few minor decisions, which I noted below.
- Lucas Giolito: $7.9M TENDER
- Reynaldo López; $2.8M TENDER
- Evan Marshall: (Minor league contract) NONTENDER
- Adam Engel: $2.2M TENDER
- Brian Goodwin: NONTENDER
- Jimmy Cordero: NONTENDER
- Jace Fry: NONTENDER
*this was completed knowing what the sox already did, since I completed this after the deadline. I might have kept Cordero, but that’s the only difference.
*I would have probably bought Kimbrel out, but it appears I was wrong.
- Craig Kimbrel: $16M ($1M buyout) PICKUP
- César Hernández: $6M DECLINE
OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS *
Try to retain, extend qualifying offer, or let go?
- Leury García 1year/$3.5M
- Carlos Rodón ($3M) Let go? * I would have extended the QO
- Billy Hamilton ($1M)Let go
- Ryan Tepera Let go, and sign as free agent.
Abreu is owed $19,666,667 in 2022. This is the exact reason I was so vocally against his extension back when it happened. This has been an exceedingly difficult OPP with the budget constraints and it would have been much easier if Abreu’s deal was only for 2 years or at least not so back loaded. IMO, Reinsdorf payed way above market value for Abreu after 2019 and now we are faced with this salary crunch because of it.
In my fantasyland OPP, out of reciprocal and inexplicable generosity from Abreu, he agrees to a new three year contract which has him earning only $10M in 2022 (a savings of $9.667M for this year’s budget). In 2023 and 2024, he would earn only $7.5M/year and the awkward decision of whether or not to keep this club icon around would be delayed by another 2 years. If his production suddenly falls off a cliff, ala Konerko, it won’t be the end of the world to eat $7.5M (hell, they just lit the same amount of money on fire in the Adam Eaton experiment of 2021!) I don’t know how realistic this is or if the players union could weigh in and strike it down somehow. I was just trying to think outside of the box and this idea struck me during Abreu’s season review podcast (a patreon exclusive). I seem to remember Abreu saying something along the lines of, “if they don’t re-sign me, I’ll sign myself”, now he can prove it. It’s hard to say he has been overpaid in this contract when he did win an MVP, but I think most of you would agree that Sox went well above market price when they signed him at 3/$50M. And yes I see the irony in the fact that I was against his extension after 2019 but now I am responsible for extending him even further, so no need to point that out.
I know my plan is pretty far fetched so far, but I’m trying to keep it financially realistic from here on out, so in that spirit I will go ahead and tell you that the Sox sign NO major free agents this off season, even after the Abreu savings.
No. 1: Ryan Tepera (two years, $12 million). He was highly effective. This is close to what he will get on the market, so go get him. There are no safe bets in the pen, as we all just learned in 21, but this seems close. He was rock solid.
No 2: Yan Gomes (two years, $10M) He might catch close to half the games as the “backup”, depending on how Grandal holds up. Lots of money for a backup, but this a smart investment IMO.
No 3: Danny Duffy (one year, $10M) Can’t have too much pitching, and while I’d only be using him as a bullpen guy and spot starter, he adds plenty of value as Kopech grows accustomed to starting regularly. Alternate solution: Corey Kluber on a one-year if you prefer.
I think you’ll agree, pretty blah. Here’s where it gets wild, and perhaps goes back into fantasyland.
I plugged all of my trades into the highly questionable baseball trade simulator and they all worked, so…
No. 1: Trade Micker Adolfo, Yoelkis Cespedes, Yermin Mercedes and Jose Rodriguez to Oakland for Chris Bassitt and Tony Kemp. Bassitt is projected at $8.8M in arbitration in 2022, which is apparently too rich for A’s so he is gettable according to what I’m reading. He really surprised me by coming back to finish 2021 after his awful injury and looked fine. He makes this rotation better and deeper.
Kemp was very solid in 2021 and hits from the left side. He is only projected at $2.2M and he can fill the hole at 2B. He was very good at getting on base in 20 and 21 and has two years of control. Downside, very little power. I stole the Kemp idea from someone else’s plan. I forget who.
No. 2: Trade Dallas Keuchel and $5M to LAA for Bag Ofballs. You would think I’d be making more of a free agent splash by getting all this money off the books, but I’m focusing more on depth. Ofballs is a hard throwing lottery ticket that will probably never progress beyond high A ball. I chose the Angels because they are in need of guys to throw some innings, but I think they are also actually trying to win so maybe Sox can find a partner elsewhere to offload Keuchel (they will have to eat at least some of the salary, I’m sure).
No. 3: Trade Craig Kimbrel and Tyler Johnson to LAD for Cody Bellinger. Bellinger was horrid in 2021 and is projected at $16.1M in arbitration in 2022, nearly identical to Kimbrel’s salary in ‘22. That goofy trade simulator actually approved this trade as a 1 for 1 but, in my skepticism, I added another player. Bellinger is still recovering from a shoulder injury but if he makes progress in that recovery, he is young enough to still put up some great numbers. I’ve read that LAD is possibly open to dealing the former MVP, and if they miss out on the few big name closers in free agency, they might be very interested in acquiring Kimbrel. Bellinger would slot in at RF and adds another left handed bat to balance the lineup even further. Bellinger won a GG playing primarily RF in 2019, so that will help considering LF will still be manned by Vaughn and Eloy.
SUMMARY: believe it or not, I’m STILL over the $170M
Opening day batting lineup:
- TA SS R
- Moncada 3B S
- Robert CF R
- Abreu 1B R
- Grandal C S
- Jimenez DH R
- Bellinger RF L
- Vaughn LF R
- Kemp 2B L
Lopez could even throw a few starts again if needed. The bullpen will look a lot like last year’s, but the awkward applications of Kimbrel will no longer be necessary.
Closer Hendriks, Setup Bummer/Tepera, long relief or spot starter Duffy/Reylo, lower leverage Ruiz, Severino, and Burr. You will notice Crochet is not here. He is starting games in AAA because if the Sox are going to pursue him as a starter, it must begin now.
I think the pitching is very strong. While the lineup will have some question marks it has lots of potential. Much will depend on if Bellinger can regain form and if Vaughn can make a step forward(with another $20M I’d happily sign Starling Marte or Kyle Schwarber and let Vaughn get the full year in AAA he deserves and probably needs, hell even Nelson Cruz). Kemp could also easily fall on his face and put up another year with a below 100 OPS+, but he is cheap and it would be a problem easily fixable with more money or a midseason trade.
I can’t believe that after stripping millions from Abreu, and trading Kimbrel and Keuchel, I STILL went slightly over without a single big name free agent. My goal was to create lineup depth and balance while actually staying near $170M. I wanted some thinking outside of the box solutions to making the club better and I think I’ve done that.