A.T.’s Pocket Aces Offseason Plan

PREAMBLE

The core when healthy and playing right is still excellent. The pre-existing holes in that core are still very much extant.

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE PLAYERS

Write “tender,” “non-tender” or “rework/extend” after each player and their projected 2022 salaries. Feel free to offer explanation afterward if necessary.

  • Lucas Giolito: $10.8M: Tender
  • Dylan Cease: $5.3M Tender
  • Reynaldo López; $3.3M Tender
  • Michael Kopech: $2.2M Tender
  • Danny Mendick: $1M Tender

 

  • Adam Engel: $2.3M Non-tender.
  • Kyle Crick: $1.5M Non-tender
  • José Ruiz: $1M Non-tender

Nothing crazy. Gio in a contract year is a pretty good bounce-back candidate for me. Mendick is cheap, vaguely proven infield depth.

CLUB OPTIONS

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

  • Tim Anderson: $12.5M ($1M buyout) Pick up.
  • Josh Harrison: $5.625M ($1.5M buyout). Decline.

Josh performed perfectly adequately and as expected. He’s just not expected to be better than average is the issue. That can be had for even cheaper.

PLAYER OPTIONS

Write “exercised” or “takes buyout.” The question here is whether you think Pollock could do better than one year and $8 million on the open market. I’m filling it in with “exercised” unless you can provide a compelling argument against it.

  • AJ Pollock: $13M ($5 million buyout) — EXERCISED. I see no reason for him to decline. Also, his family lives in Phoenix, so I imagine he wants to stay with an Arizona ST team anyways.  I don’t think he’ll make than $8M on the open market. So he’s staying, and all we can do is hope that a new managing/coaching staff helps him return to LAD form.

OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS

  • José Abreu (Made $18M in 2021): Let go. Sorry, Pito. Ride off into the sunset. More specifically though, I’d like to stay in touch with him and see what kind of offers he gets. $12M/1Y could be tough to pass up for his yet-maintained quality of hitting, but that’s on Jerry to decide late in the offseason if so.
  • Johnny Cueto ($4.2M): Let go. Many happy returns, Johnny. Really great instagram follow, he’s just having a great time on his ranch in the DR.
  • Vince Velasquez ($3M) Let go.
  • Elvis Andrus ($14.25M) Let go. Much akin to the experience of putting a spare couple quarters in a slot machine in the Vegas airport, winning $50, and choosing to walk away instead of continuing to play.

MANAGER

I wanted Bruce Bochy, as I have for two years now, and that of course did not happen. I then wanted Joe Espada, and that also did not happen. I am now resigned to either (1) Cairo, who certainly had the team playing inspired until Cleveland broke their back and nothing mattered, (2) Kevin Long, who I do not know enough about to have an opinion on, but is apparently the frontrunner for now, or (3) Ozzie Guillen, because if 2023 is gonna be a boom-or-bust year, let’s have it be an absolutely spectacular boom and/or bust.

I also want to forcibly retire both Boston and Super Joe. Neither apparently contributes much, and the Sox could instead be hiring younger guys with some blend of (more recent) playing experience and post-playing analytical views. I’d also like a hitting coach who is about the long ball. And, finally, I would hypnotize, threaten, cajole, blackmail, etc. Jerry into dropping the approximate equivalent of One Year Of Leury Garcia to flesh out the analytics group into an actually respectable baseball nerd squad (ie analytics staff).

FREE AGENTS

No. 1: LHSP Carlos Rodon (six years, $160M)

Bring him home. This postseason has demonstrated how much top-end starting pitching matters, and ‘Los proved he could stay healthy and effective for 178IP this year– workhouse quantity in this day and age. They need another starter, and with all due respect to Davis Martin, I’d prefer to assemble a rotation in which every member is capable of utter dominance when right. It’s good for the regular season, it’s good for the postseason, and it plays to the biggest coaching strength they have (Katz).

No. 1: RF Michael Conforto (one year, $10M) pending clean bill of shoulder health. 

A pillow contract for a historically good lefty RF bat who needs to re-establish his value. I’m not going long-term here because (1) Colas looks like a good bet to be a cheap, competent RF as soon as midseason and (2) shoulder injuries scare the bejesus outta me.

TRADES

No. 1: Trade C Yasmani Grandal, RP Kendall Graveman, and 1B Jake Burger to the St. Louis Cardinals for 2B/OF Brendan Donovan, RP Alex Reyes, RP Chris Stratton, and LHP Zack Thompson.

A few things going on here. One, Yaz costs a lot and Zavala’s framing is good enough that he can start just fine. Two, Molina is retiring and Andrew Knapp could not hit his way out of a paper bag, hence StL’s need. Three, the Cards also really need some stability in the pen beyond Helsley and Gallegos, hence Graveman. Finally, Burger replaces another Hall of Famer in Pujols. No pressure, kid!

The good news about Donovan is that he’s a lefty bat who walks almost as much as he K’s (12% or so), can play almost literally anywhere, and just put up a 129 wRC+ in his rookie year. The bad news is that he’s got very little pop or arm strength. That wRC+ came with a higher OBP than SLG: this guy is the ideal Deadball Year Dude and thus is pretty unlikely to be actually above average again. St Louis has a biotech facility dedicated to formulating these peppy no-power infielders in test tubes anyways, so parting with one of the latest models for a starting catcher and good setup man seems plausible. Stratton takes over VV’s low-leverage innings eating, Reyes is a Project for Katz to play with whenever he’s healthy, and Thompson is an intriguingish lefty currently projecting as a spot starter.

SUMMARY

The rotation carried the Sox through vital position player injuries in ’21. They lost their best pitcher to free agency, and then the rotation could not replicate the feat.

There are bounce-back years to be had everywhere on this roster with some better health and saner deployment. Eloy should be closer to a full-time DH, Vaughn 1B, Pollock LF, and Conforto/Colas RF. Just play guys where they’re best suited to!

2B can be an open competition amongst the wild youths. Donovan provides a pretty good floor, but I’d like Sosa/Gonzalez to get a shot too with their much greater raw pop. Leury is floating around somewhere too.

Here’s my Opening Day 26-man roster:

SS Tim Anderson ($12.5M)
RF Michael Conforto ($10M)
1B Andrew Vaughn (min)
DH Eloy Jimenez ($10.33M)
2B Brendan Donovan (min)
CF Luis Robert ($9.5M)
3B Yoan Moncada ($17.8M)
LF AJ Pollock ($13M)
C Seby Zavala (min)

IF Lenyn Sosa (min)
IF Danny Mendick ($1M)
OF Oscar Colas (min)
C Carlos Perez (min)

SP1 Dylan Cease ($5.3 M)

SP2 Carlos Rodon ($26.7 M)
SP3 Lance Lynn ($18.5 M)
SP4 Lucas Giolito ($10.8 M)
SP5 Michael Kopech ($2.2 M)

CL Liam Hendriks ($14.33M)
SU Joe Kelly ($8.5M)
SU Reynaldo Lopez ($3.3M)
MR Aaron Bummer ($3.75M)
MR Jimmy Lambert (min)
MR Jake Diekman ($3.5M)

MR Alex Reyes ($2.85M)
LR Chris Stratton ($3.5M)

TOTAL PAYROLL: $182.2M.

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dailycupofjoe14

Solid plan.

GrabSomeBench

I ran your Cardinals trade through the trade simulator and received the following message: “Reality Check Reality check! You need to add at least one high-value player to the other side of this trade for it to be accepted, and make sure there’s not too many”.The Rodon contract may be low based on Spotrac which lists Rodon as a $31.6M a year guy. Conforto is listed at 20m and he turned down a 2 year deal last year to comeback for September because it was a 2 year deal.

DuhSox

And there is no way that Rodon would return to the White Sox.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Of course he would – if they offered him the most money. I don’t see that happening, though.

HallofFrank

That Cards trade seems *wayyyyyy* off to me. I’d think the Cards would decline even if the Sox were giving them all 3 players for no return. Yaz is probably ~$10-12m worth of negative value. Graveman makes up a little of that, but not much. And I don’t see why the Cards would be so itching to get Burger to take on that much money. The Cards would be much better off spending ~$25m in the open market and keeping their players.