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2017 GM Simulation: Twins final roster and my thoughts

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SB Nation’s annual MLB GM Simulation is officially in the books. Here is the fake Twins’ final roster and some insight into the moves that were made.

MLB: San Diego Padres at San Francisco Giants
Meet your (fake) 2018 Closer!
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 SB Nation GM Simulation ended yesterday, and all the moves have been made. I, TJ, acted as the fake GM this year for the Minnesota Twins, and was given a $113 million budget to work with. In case you missed them, here’s recaps of what I did in day 1, day 2, and day 3 on the simulation. You can also read the full rules here.

Now that everything is over, I wanted to summarize what my fake 2018 Twins would look like, and some of the reasoning behind my approach.

Payroll, roster, and line-up summary

2018 Budgeted Payroll: $113 Million.

2018 Projected Payroll: $113,270,000.

I stayed within 300K of budget parameters I was given (which is 0.2% of the budget, if you were curious). I think the real Twins could spend a little more, but I didn’t make the rules.

As it stands now, the fake Twins have $45.5 million committed to player contracts for 2019, $24 million combined in club options for Ervin Santana and Matt Moore, and a player option for $15.5 million to Yasmany Tomas. Assuming all the options are exercised, the Twins would be committed to $85 million in 2019. If the fake Twins tendered an offer to all their arbitration eligible players, and all the players receive a 20% raise, the Twins will have another $24.36 million committed to their 2019 payroll.

Going into 2019, the fake Twins will have, at most (but likely less than), $109.36 million committed, with a payroll goal of approximately $118.1 million. That means I have at least $9 million available to either re-sign or replace Joe Mauer, sign extensions, and fill any holes in the roster. Besides Mauer, the only players I will need to replace for 2019 are Chris Gimenez and a couple relievers. I held onto Alan Busenitz, Tyler Jay, Gabriel Moya, J.T. Chargois, and John Curtiss, and I anticipate I can find my relievers out of this group. I also held onto starters Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero, Felix Jorge, Dietrich Enns, and Zack Littell, and added Grant Holmes and Jordan Hicks to this group. There are plenty of pitching options waiting in the wings. Depending on how deep the 2018 Twins go in the playoffs, I may extend the payroll by a bit as well. The fake Twins are all-in to win in 2018 and 2019. I also still have less than $20 million committed for 2020, and potentially nothing for 2021 (just a $4.5 million club option on Siegrist), so we can easily keep our best players into the foreseeable future. I really wanted to keep that flexibility, so that the fake Twins can lock up Buxton, Sano, Berrios and other key contributors.

Although I traded several big pieces from the upper end of our minor league system, I also added some valuable arms, a couple position players, and a left-handed hitting catcher to the lower minors. These players can be used as future trade-bait, or allowed to mature into useful pieces with the next wave of reinforcements. I’m sure I haven’t been a perfect GM, but I did my best to build a strong competitor now, and not mortgage the future to do so.

The Opening day line-up for the 2018 fake Twins projects to be as follows: (R/L/S indicates batting hand)

CF Byron Buxton R
1B Joe Mauer L
3B Miguel Sano R
LF Eddie Rosario L
DH Yasmany Tomas R
2B Scooter Gennett L
RF Max Kepler L
SS Jorge Polanco * S
C Jason Castro L

Bench:

C Chris Gimenez R
SS Aledmys Diaz * R
SS Ehire Adrianza S
OF Matt Szczur R

Rotation:

RHP Ervin Santana
RHP Jose Berrios
RHP Michael Wacha
RHP Collin McHugh
LHP Matt Moore **

Bullpen:

Closer: RHP Kirby Yates
Set-up 1: RHP Pat Neshek
Set-up 2: LHP Kevin Siegrist
Reliever 1: RHP Matt Belisle
Reliever 2: RHP Carter Capps
Reliever 3: LHP Tony Sipp
Reliever 4: LHP Clayton Richard **

Notes:

* Going into Spring Training, Polanco has a slight edge at short, due to incumbency. We anticipate a position battle between him and Diaz, with the loser serving as a bench option

** The fifth starter will be a spring training decision between Moore, Richard, and Adalberto Mejia. The last bullpen spot is also up for grabs between the losers of the starter battle and a number of young relievers, plus several options on minor league contracts. Moore and Richard currently have the edge due to contractual considerations.

Expect Matt Szczur to get roughly 3 starts per week in the various outfield positions, with pitching match-ups and rest days as the primary reasons. Noel Cuevas and Ben Revere are available at Triple-A if injuries should occur.

Aledmys Diaz is expected to be the primary short-term back up at third base, if he is the starter at shortstop, expect him to move over, and Polanco to start at short. Gennett also has some versatility to cover third, with Diaz or Polanco able to play second in this scenario. We expect Sano, Gimenez, and Tomas to be the short term back-up options at first.

In case of a catcher injury, both A.J. Ellis and Juan Graterol are available for call up, and if a need opens at first base, Gimenez is likely our long-term back-up, with another catcher being called up.

Yates is penciled in as our closer, however, that position is open to anyone who claims it based on performance. I’d also prefer to step away from traditionally defined bullpen roles and use the best pitcher in the highest leverage situations.

Should the fake Twins need them, I still have Alan Busenitz, Gabriel Moya, J.T. Chargois, Jake Reed, Tyler Jay and John Curtiss available to replace ineffective or injured relievers, in addition to our minor league signings of Perkins, Collmenter, Gee, and Abad. As far as starting pitching goes, Mat Latos, Micah Owings, Clayton Richard, Dillon Gee, Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero, and Felix Jorge may also all be called upon to replace members of our rotation, or start a double-header, if needed.

Technically, we also still own the rights to Kennys Vargas, Niko Goodrum, and Byung-Ho Park, but I don’t see much of a role for them, unless the injury bug strikes. If I had to worry about a 40-man roster, Vargas and Goodrum would have been DFA’d.

Players on Minor League deals, expected to start the season in minors

RP Josh Collmenter, SP/RP Dillon Gee, SP Mat Latos, C A.J. Ellis, SP Micah Owings, OF Ben Revere, RP Fernando Abad, RP Glen Perkins (June 1st opt-out, if not on MLB roster).

Prospects lost through trades (16):

C Mitch Garver, RP Nick Burdi, SP Blayne Enlow, SP Kohl Stewart, OF Zack Granite, SP Landon Leach, 3B T.J. White, 1B Lewin Diaz, OF/INF Levi Michael, OF LaMonte Wade, SS Nick Gordon, OF Alex Kiriloff, C Ben Rortverdt, 2B Jose Miranda, SP Sam Coonrod, SP Michael Rucker, SP Ryan Eades.

Prospects gained through trades (14):

SP Jordan Hicks, SP Grant Holmes, C Zach Jackson, SP Sam Coonrod, SP Matt Krook, SP Cory Abbott, SP Michael Rucker, SP Brenan Hanifee, SP Ofelky Peralta, 1B Will Craig, OF Clayton Mitchell, C Juan Graterol, SS Julio Garcia, OF Noel Cuevas


Thoughts on the simulation

This was actually a lot of fun! It was also a lot of work—I sent literally hundreds of emails over the past few days. Most of the GM’s were really active, and I had trade talks with about half the league. A few thoughts on the moves I made:

  • I should have let the market develop a bit more for Mitch Garver, as I did have five or six teams asking about him, but I don’t regret the deal I made. My fake Twins, however, are now once again on the hunt for their catcher of the future. We needed cheap, decent pitching, and that is what we got in Collin McHugh. In the mean time, I’ll just have to turn to the free agent market for catching. That is generally a little cheaper than pitching at least.
  • The Brian Dozier trade market was softer than I initially anticipated. The Brewers attempted to acquire him on day one, but were not willing to part with the kind of pieces I wanted to bring back. Whit Merrifield, Scooter Gennett, and Dee Gordon were also being actively shopped, and I chose to hang onto Dozier. When the Cardinals approached me on day two, my initial price was Michael Wacha, Zach Jackson, and either Alex Reyes or Jack Flaherty (their #1 and #3 overall prospects, and top pitching prospects). We eventually came to the deal we did, with me picking up two Double-A starters with good potential, and a solid MLB utility guy who could be my shortstop for the next several years if he rebounds from his sophomore slump. Wacha isn’t a true ace, but he is better than most of the pitchers the Twins used in 2017, and is reliable.
  • I was willing to roll with Polanco, Escobar, Diaz, and Adrianza as my middle infield, with an opportunity for Nick Gordon, but ended up liking the idea of adding Scooter Gennett, who puts up decent offensive numbers and is a solid defender. He cost a bit more than I wanted, but didn’t handicap my team much. Losing Taylor Rogers hurt a little bit — I had refused to trade him a couple times before that, but nothing else in that deal hurt my team in the next couple years.
  • Trading Gibson for Szczur was my favorite move of the whole simulation, personally. Gibson was getting relatively expensive ($5.3 million), although the Padres non-tendered and re-signed him for much less (1 year, $2 million, plus a $6 million option.) He also would be a free agent after 2018, and most importantly, probably wasn’t going to fit into my rotation. Szczur is cheap ($800k) with multiple arbitration years ahead, can play all three outfield positions, and bats right-handed; which makes him a great platoon partner for Max Kepler or Eddie Rosario if necessary. It also allowed me to save significant salary over Robbie Grossman, and upgrade my fourth outfielder defensively.
  • I was a bit surprised the Yasmany Tomas for Phil Hughes deal happened, and when I proposed it as a framework, I expected to need to add a prospect or two. It got Hughes off my books, while adding another piece at a slightly higher cost. Tomas was injured for most of 2017, which reduced his value, and he has a negative value in the field, but when healthy he can be a very productive hitter. He fits an AL team much better than a NL team like the Diamondbacks. Arizona’s GM stopped by the comments on day one’s recap to explain his side of the move.
  • Sending Zack Granite, Landon Leach, and T.J. White to the Padres was a no-brainer, although I didn’t like giving up Leach. Kirby Yates and Carter Capps are both projected to be key bullpen pieces, and Clayton Richard is a nice insurance policy
  • I really hated the Coonrod and Rucker for Graterol and Garcia trade. I had to take it at that point, or be painfully short on catching options. I was initially trying to get a catcher with a little more upside, but if I end up relying on Graterol, he’ll be sort of like Drew Butera. In my hypothetical next offseason, I’m probably signing a free agent catcher for my MLB roster to complement Jason Castro.
  • I made a lot of trades to try to add talent to the farm system. I’m pretty clueless on prospects, though, so who knows how that actually worked out. The idea, at least, was to move guys from the upper minors for guys in the lower minors. It was a bit of a nod to the idea of having to protect guys.
  • I probably would have tried to negotiate a Mauer extension in the range of 3 years and $25-30 million, but that was outside of the scope of the simulation. My guess is it would have cost a bit more than that to buy out this season’s $23 million anyway

The payroll limitations made this really challenging. I was competing on the free agent market for players with teams that had twice or more the available money, and could easily outbid me. For example, I really wanted Brandon Kintzler, but couldn’t justify paying him $8 million per year. That was a big factor in forcing me into the trade market. I absolutely understand the Twins decision making a bit better after being in that position. I think a small market team needs to use trades aggressively in order to win, in addition to needing young, cheap players. As another example, I traded Eduardo Escobar primarily based on money. He got too expensive for me, and I preferred getting prospects to the idea of losing him for nothing on the free agent market. I was also very limited in my free agent moves due to the finances.

Overall, I’m glad I participated in the simulation, and would suggest anyone with the time jumps on the opportunity in the future. Some things are a bit frustrating, like tracking where prospects end up, and keeping track of pre-arb players, but that is just minor stuff. The idea is pretty solid, and it was well-run overall.


Feel free, as always to question my moves or my motivation in the comments. If you have any questions on the simulation itself, I’ll answer those too. In the meantime, I have a few questions for you!

Poll

What grade do you give the Fake Twins offseason overall?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    A
    (17 votes)
  • 26%
    B
    (56 votes)
  • 29%
    C
    (62 votes)
  • 20%
    D
    (44 votes)
  • 15%
    F
    (33 votes)
212 votes total Vote Now

Poll

How many wins do you think the Fake Twins roster is capable of in 2018?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    100+
    (5 votes)
  • 16%
    90-99
    (32 votes)
  • 46%
    80-89
    (89 votes)
  • 27%
    70-79
    (53 votes)
  • 5%
    Less than 70
    (11 votes)
190 votes total Vote Now