$105M payrolls are for losers. I chose to blow on by that. Jerry is negotiating a new TV contract plus fighting for parity in the Chicago marketplace. My mandate was to be bold, and that’s what I did. In some respects I could have been bolder, but I wanted to save prospect capital. I view 2019 as a year when things could go right and we could take the division. I view 2020 as the year we go for it. Then I wanted to build a team that can be a perennial contender rather than a 3-year supernova.
Jose Abreu, $16M Tender
Avisail Garcia, $8M Tender and trade
Yolmer Sanchez, $4.7M Tender
Carlos Rodon, $3.7M Tender
Matt Davidson, $2.4M Tender
Leury Garcia, $1.9M Tender
Danny Farquhar, $1.4M Non-tender, sign to minor league contract
Nate Jones, $4.65 million/$1.25M buyout Pick up
James Shields, $16 million/$2M buyout Decline
OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS
Miguel Gonzalez (made $4.75 million in 2018) He gone.
Hector Santiago (made $2 million in 2018 — added) He gone.
Bryce Harper – 11 years/$370M (4 yrs @ $40M, 7 yrs @ $32M, opt outs after 4 and 7 years)
Manny Machado – 10 years/$350M (3 yrs @ $40M, 7 yrs @ $32.857M, opt outs after 3 and 6 years)
Nathan Eovaldi – 4 years/$66M – I jumped MLBTradeRumors by $6M
Andrew Miller – 3 years/$33M – I jumped MLBTradeRumors by $6M
Trade 1 – Jose Abreu, Jace Fry, Welington Castillo, $10M to Colorado for Jon Gray and Jake McGee. The Rockies’ window is now. This seriously upgrades first base for them. They can move Desmond to the outfield. It gives them a controllable lefty they desperately need. Castillo probably upgrades their catching. Neither Abreu nor Castillo are signed after this year. The trade is about cash neutral. Gray and McGee didn’t make their postseason roster. McGee is a salary dump. Either Coop’ll fix him or Rick’ll cut him. Gray is our Jake Arrieta, a prize pitcher who needed a change of scenery to flourish. I wanted to try to make Caleb Frare and more money work in this deal, but I think it will require Fry. I’d start with Frare, though, and hope.
Trade 2 – Lucas Giolito and Steele Walker to San Diego for Austin Hedges. Pads have Francisco Mejia waiting in the wings, and they need to find some pitching. Giolito, back in SoCal and pitching in that park, is worth the gamble. Sox get a catcher who can help develop a staff and control the game. I’m probably shy on what it would take, but I didn’t know what else to do. Besides, the Padres owe us.
Trade 3 – Gavin Sheets to the Yankees for Sonny Gray. He’s worth a shot for a year. Yanks get someone who could rake in that park.
Trade 4 – Avi Garcia, $4M to any team that will send an interesting prospect back in return. I had to tender him as a hedge against not getting Harper.
C – Hedges – .6M
1B – Rondon – .6M
2B – Moncada – .6M
3B – Machado – 40.0M
SS – Anderson – 1.4M
LF – Jimenez (after April 15) – .6M
CF – Engel – .6M
RF – Harper – 40.0M
DH – Palka – .6M
C – Narvaez -.6M
IB, 3B, DH, RP – Davidson – 2.4M
OF, IF – L. Garcia – 1.9M
IF – Sanchez – 4.7M
SP – Eovaldi – 16.5M
SP – Rodon – 3.7M
SP – J. Gray – 3.2M
SP – Lopez – .6M
SP – S. Gray – 9.1M
RP – Miller – 11.0M
RP – Jones – 4.7M
RP – Minaya – .6M
RP – Covey – .6M
RP – Bummer – .6M
RP – Hamilton – .6M
RP – Burr – .6M
The bullpen could be any combination of guys to begin with.
Total payroll is $164.4M counting the money sent to Colorado and all of Avi’s salary. Payroll would probably go down in 2020.
The lineup tilts too heavily to the right side, but whatever. I’ve assembled a team that COULD be competitive (have a shot at the playoffs) without sacrificing too much in young players or blocking prospects. This gives us a year to get a better handle on how to proceed.
I want Hansen, Burdi, Robert, and Madrigal fast-tracked to the majors if they show enough. If Hansen regains the form that made him a monster, he shouldn’t waste any bullets in the minors. Bring him up, and see what he can do. Ditto Burdi if the velocity returns and the control isn’t shot. As for Robert, he’s a stud. If he can stay on the field and put his loud tools on display, just bring him up. He’s better than Engel. Madrigal doesn’t have an obvious position on the roster, but if he’s hitting, call him up. Moncada can move to first for the rest of the year. Then we can figure it out over the winter. We could use Madrigal’s OBP and defense.
If we find ourselves calling up Cease and Hansen, Eovaldi could become a weapon out of the pen or Sonny could be traded or cut or Lopez could shift to the pen or Rodon could be hurt again. The point is, there will be a need for our minor league studs. We don’t hold them back.
I put Rondon at first. (I think that was lil Jimmy’s idea.) It could be Davidson/Palka/Narvaez/Sanchez/whomever. A year from now we could be forced to play Moncada at first or Harper when Rutherford explodes on the scene or Collins. There will be ways to fill that spot, and I didn’t want to block anyone while we figure out what way is best.
When generational talents are available on the open market, you have to get them. Players like that usually justify their salaries. If either or both walk after the first opt out, then you have a lot of new money to play with. Having spent so much for Harchado, I needed to spend more to fill in around them. What I wasn’t going to do was fill every hole. I wanted to fill enough that the team could win, but I wanted to keep my bullets for later. In a year or two I don’t want to trade all the top prospects to “ensure” a title. I want to fill gaps I can’t fill internally. I also want to trade some of the stars from the big team for more prospects. Replace the traded stars with the next wave and use the bounty from those traded stars to create the wave after that. I want to create a perpetual contender. That means trade guys too early rather than too late. For instance, in 2020 we could have Kopech, Cease, J. Gray, Lopez, Eovaldi, Dunning, and maybe Hansen. If that all works out, trade Rodon as he starts to cost more. And so on and so on.