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2022 SBNation MLB off season simulation: The Shadow Twins burn it down and build from the ashes

In which our author emulates the... Cincinnati Reds?

RUSSIA-FIRE Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images

It’s time again for the annual SBNation MLB offseason sim. I’ve been doing this for awhile, and its always a great time. For those that are unfamiliar, its put on by Max Rieper and our friends at Royals Review. This is last year’s version if you want to catch up, and you can fall down the rabbit hole from there.

As usual, the idea is that we are taking over as the GM of our favorite team, and guiding them through the offseason. The last couple years, I’ve played it as “what would Falvey do.” This year I decided to do something different. This year, I am playing the game as “Falvey got fired, and I took over.” Well, okay, that leads to a good question — why would Falvey be fired? The most likely alternate universe scenario is that the ownership is disappointed in the lack of success given the investments they’ve made in the last few years. This led to my goal for this year:

Reset the payroll and get below 90mil; don’t completely empty the farm; and still field a competitive enough team that people come out to watch.

Basically, I am the real-life Reds. Why would I do this? Well, because I get to run the show and it sounded like an interesting challenge. Keep that goal in mind when you evaluate my moves. All the rules are here, and the overall summary can be found here. Also, keep in mind, the top free agents deals are always hyper-inflated, and prospects are devalued, due to the fact that rosters reset every offseason.

Trade 1: Dylan Bundy, Chris Archer, Randy Dobnak, Miguel Sano, Edouard Julien, and Emmanuel Rodriguez to the Nationals for Kyle Farmer, Tommy Romero, and $5.9 million

This is the one that made John Foley ask if I was insane. But, given the constraints, a huge move to dump salary makes sense. We also acquire a utility infielder that can play a passable everyday shortstop, and a quad-A shuttle type reliever in the deal, and Washington pays Farmer’s whole salary.

Poll

Grade this trade

  • 7%
    A
    (6 votes)
  • 11%
    B
    (9 votes)
  • 15%
    C
    (12 votes)
  • 29%
    D
    (23 votes)
  • 35%
    F
    (27 votes)
77 votes total Vote Now

Trade 2: Max Kepler, Ben Ross to Marlins for Jacob Stallings, Bryan Hoeing

Kepler was one of my most-inquired about players, and I had already decided that one of him, Kirilloff, or Larnach was expendable in order to improve elsewhere. Stallings is a decent, inexpensive catcher that complements Jeffers, and Hoeing is another passable reliever. One of the other Kepler trades on the table was to bring back Mitch Garver, but Miami kicked in a pitcher to seal the deal.

Poll

Grade this trade

  • 10%
    A
    (8 votes)
  • 33%
    B
    (25 votes)
  • 27%
    C
    (20 votes)
  • 14%
    D
    (11 votes)
  • 13%
    F
    (10 votes)
74 votes total Vote Now

Trade 3: Jorge Polanco to Diamondbacks for Merrill Kelly, Cooper Hummel

This is the one I didn’t really go looking for, as the Arizona GM reached out about Polanco. Given his age and cost, and the number of reasonable second basemen out there, it was a good way to pick up a mid-tier starting pitcher, and a good prospect who is basically MLB ready.

Poll

Grade this trade

  • 16%
    A
    (12 votes)
  • 36%
    B
    (27 votes)
  • 21%
    C
    (16 votes)
  • 12%
    D
    (9 votes)
  • 12%
    F
    (9 votes)
73 votes total Vote Now

Option Decision: Exercised the option on Sonny Gray, Declined options on Dylan Bundy, Miguel Sano, and Chris Archer

Given the trade earlier, technically the only decision I had was on Gray. I kept him, and having him the rotation would have been fine... but...

Trade 4: Sonny Gray to the Rangers for Cody Bradford and Jonathan Ornelas

I floated Gray out as tradebait, and got back a couple of decent future pieces. Bradford is essentially a MLB-ready lefty starter, and provides key rotation depth this summer. Ornelas is a utility guy who could also come up as soon as this summer. Not bad for trading away a rental starter that wouldn’t be a part of our long term future.

Poll

Grade this trade

  • 9%
    A
    (6 votes)
  • 17%
    B
    (11 votes)
  • 22%
    C
    (14 votes)
  • 26%
    D
    (17 votes)
  • 23%
    F
    (15 votes)
63 votes total Vote Now

Non-Tender Decisions: Gio Urshela, Emilio Pagan, Jake Cave, Daniel Coloumbe, Cody Stashak, and Jorge Lopez

Urshela is expensive, Cave is incredibly replaceable for what he costs, and I am done with every single one of those relievers. Easy decisions. The only thing I was waiting on was to see if anyone wanted to trade for Urshela, Pagan, or Lopez. No one did.

Trade 5: Anthony Prato and Jaylen Nowlin to the Mets for Eduardo Escobar

Escobar was a guy I inquired about early in the sim, and a guy I really wanted. I probably overpaid to get him, but he provides veteran leadership, a solid bat, and a fantastic clubhouse presence to a team that could use all of those things.

Poll

Grade this Trade

  • 40%
    FOGO POWER
    (25 votes)
  • 14%
    B
    (9 votes)
  • 14%
    C
    (9 votes)
  • 13%
    D
    (8 votes)
  • 16%
    F
    (10 votes)
61 votes total Vote Now

Trade 6: Sean Mooney, David Festa to Marlins for Charles LeBlanc, Richard Bleier

Another interesting infielder that can play several positions and has some options. Another okay reliever for my bullpen. In real life, its an overpay, but in the sim, Mooney and Festa are exactly the kind of guys with very depressed value.

Poll

Grade this trade

  • 5%
    A
    (3 votes)
  • 9%
    B
    (5 votes)
  • 33%
    C
    (17 votes)
  • 35%
    D
    (18 votes)
  • 15%
    F
    (8 votes)
51 votes total Vote Now

Free Agent Signings:

Sergio Romo to a one-year, $3.5 million deal

Caleb Smith to a two year, $14 million deal with a $12 million club option

Joe Ross to a 2 year, $8 million deal with a $7 million club option

Michael Fulmer to a 2 year, $7 million deal

Hansel Robles, Jhoulys Chacin to minor league deals

A note here, I missed most of the second day of the sim, when the mid-range free agents came off the board, due to a “emergency” in my day job — our salt spreader wasn’t working and the first snow of the year was in the air. I missed several targets this way, however I think things worked out in the end. I reached out to Kyle Gibson and several relievers, but was unable to get involved in discussions with them. This is the best of what was left on day three.

Romo is going to be the Escobar of the bullpen. He’s a guy we know, and we know brings a great presence. If he has anything left, he’s a steal, and if not, he’s not so costly we cannot cut him loose. Smith and Ross are both coming back from significant injuries, but should be able to throw some innings in August and September. Both were really signed for the second and third year of their deals. Fulmer, Robles, and Chacin were all signed just to fill spots. Fulmer actually required the most negotiation of any free agent this year. I offered him one year at two million, he countered at four, and we eventually settled at three million for 2023 and four for 2024.

Trade 7: Marco Raya to Baltimore for Spenser Watkins

I still needed a couple starters for depth. I just, just missed signing Jordan Lyles — he agrees to a MiLB deal with Baltimore roughly 30 seconds before I offered him a couple years at $7m total. His loss. From that discussion though, Baltimore offered to trade me Lyles, Watkins, or Austin Voth. Of the three, I like Watkins best. I ended up with Raya in the deal, because we were initially discussing Yasser Mercedes, but I had something else cooking for him...

Trade 8: In a three-team trade, Twins receive Jakob Junis, Jarlin Garcia, and Ashtin Izzi, Mariners receive Austin Slater and Trevor Larnach, and the Giants receive Austin Martin, Yasser Mercedes, Diego Castillo, Emerson Hancock, and Kyle Lewis

I probably could have accomplished getting Junis with less headache, and he was really my target here, but this was a fun one to set up. The Mariners were asking about Larnach, and we were talking Chris Flexen a bit, when they mentioned they could potentially get me a pitcher from SF, as they were discussing a deal. The Giants and I had already been discussing pitching, so it made sense to make this a three team deal. With the amount of shine that has come off Martin and the relative devaluation of lower-level prospects, I made the deal. Its probably also a real-life overpay.

Poll

Grade this trade

  • 6%
    A
    (3 votes)
  • 14%
    B
    (7 votes)
  • 12%
    C
    (6 votes)
  • 25%
    D
    (12 votes)
  • 41%
    F
    (20 votes)
48 votes total Vote Now

Trade 9: Casey Legumina to the Mets for James McCann, Jesus Tinoco, Omar De los Santos and $10.5 million

The Mets and I had already completed this deal, but forgot that a player cannot be traded for cash considerations in the sim, so I threw out a name. Surprisingly a day later, the real Twins added Legumina to the roster. McCann is going to cost me 5.5 million in 2023 and 5 million in 2024. New York picks up the rest of his deal, and tossed me a couple prospects to do so. Meanwhile, I’ll use the DH role as a spot to stash one of my three catchers.

Trade 10: Aaron Sabato to the Athletics for Cal Stevenson

I was pretty much done after the McCann trade, but didn’t hate the idea of adding a little outfield depth to the high minors, and suggested other GMs could throw out a name. Oakland mentioned Stevenson or Dominic Canzone. They wanted something “young and interesting” back. A deal was struck. Stevenson is like our sixth OF, but can play all three positions, and is essentially cheaper Jake Cave with options. He bats lefty and doesn’t completely embarass himself in center field. If he gets more than a fourth outfielder role, it means at least four very important guys are injured, and the season is very far off the rails.

And with that, here are your 2023 Shadow Twins. I think I accomplished all my goals. Obviously some of these guys will start in Triple-A, but I believe there is enough flexibility and versatility to ride the hot hand as well.

Your 2023 Shadow Twins

Infielders: Jose Miranda, Luis Arraez, Kyle Farmer, Nick Gordon, Eduardo Escobar, Charles LeBlanc, Royce Lewis.

Outfielders: Alex Kirilloff, Byron Buxton, Kyle Garlick, Gilberto Celestino, Cal Stevenson (Royce Lewis also factors into this depth)

Catchers: Ryan Jeffers, Jacob Stallings, James McCann, Cooper Hummel

Starters: Joe Ryan, Merrill Kelly, Bailey Ober, Jakob Junis, Kenta Maeda, Tyler Mahle, Chris Paddack, Caleb Smith (IL,) Joe Ross (IL)

Relievers: Bryan Hoeing, Michael Fulmer, Richard Bleier, Jarlin Garcia, Caleb Theilbar, Sergio Romo, Jorge Alcala, Jhoan Duran.

Final payroll: $93,865,000

Poll

Based on the prompt specified above, grade this offseason overall

  • 8%
    A
    (6 votes)
  • 11%
    B
    (8 votes)
  • 13%
    C
    (10 votes)
  • 38%
    D
    (28 votes)
  • 27%
    F
    (20 votes)
72 votes total Vote Now

Poll

How many games would this team win?

  • 1%
    100+
    (1 vote)
  • 4%
    90-99
    (4 votes)
  • 14%
    80-89
    (12 votes)
  • 34%
    70-79
    (29 votes)
  • 44%
    Less than 70
    (37 votes)
83 votes total Vote Now

What are your thoughts? What would you have done differently? Where did I go wrong? What was the best and worst move I made?