This week, a collection of SB Nation writers and contributors took part in a Winter Meeting Simulation headed up by commissioner RoyalsRetro at Royals Review. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be the Padres GM for this exercise.
The rules were fairly basic which was good for me because I'm mad stupe.
- We rewind to the end of the regular season.
- The assumption is your GM has resigned and been replaced. The new GM is free to set their own organizational philosophy. However, they must still adhere to the team budget
- We're not concerned with the 40 man roster.
- Players with no-trade clauses cannot be traded (this includes players with 10-5 rights). Players with limited no-trade clauses can be traded, but I reserve the right to veto it if I think the player would not accept the trade.
- Minor leaguers can be traded, but must be specified. No Players to be named Later. Cash may be dealt, but the amount must be specified.
- Free agent contracts are negotiated with me. Free agent contracts cannot be frontloaded or backloaded. Club options, player options, and mutual options may be offered.
Top offer will typically be taken, although there may be exceptions if a player has a preference on where he wants to play (NY over Pittsburgh; older vet may want to play for a "winner.")
With all of this in mind, I put together a general idea of what I wanted to do before the sim began on Monday morning. I made it clear to everyone that Chase Headley was absolutely not available but that didn't stop a lot of people from asking. Some repeatedly. My prime objective was to get starting pitching and I struck early.
In my first move, at 1:05pm on Monday, I traded SS Everth Cabrera and LHRP Joe Thatcher to Milwaukee for RHSP Mike Fiers. I knew this might land me on the dead-to-jodes list but I'm high on Fiers. Reserve judgement on this deal until you see what I had simmering on the back burner.
My first free agent signing was in the evening of that first day. I signed Dan Haren to a two year, $22 million deal with a $14 million club option and $3 million buyout. I was lucky to get him for that before the price of free agent starters began spiraling into the realm of ridiculous. Just as a frame of reference, Shaun Marcum ended up getting five years. Yeah, seriously.
On Wednesday morning I replaced the switch-hitting SS named Cabrera I traded away with another switch-hitting SS named Cabrera. In a move I almost talked myself out of a couple of times, I sent P Robbie Erlin, P Joe Wieland, and OF Rymer Liriano to the Cleveland Indians for All Star SS Asdrubal Cabrera, P Ubaldo Jimenez, and $2.5 million. It was never my plan to keep Jimenez; my plan was to dump his entire salary on someone else and keep the $2.5 mil.
That night I signed free agent LHRP J.P. Howell to a two year contract for $2.4 million each. It's more than I should have paid but it's not an anchor.
The next afternoon, Thursday, I signed P Tim Stauffer, P Dustin Moseley, and OF/P (that’s right) Rick Ankiel to minor league deals just to have a net in light of what happened last year.
This morning was when activity went into overdrive. My first trade of the last day was to send Ubaldo and his entire contract to Philadelphia for top pitching prospect Trevor May (who was traded to Minnesota in the real winter meetings). It got rid of a chunk of salary I never intended on paying and replaced one of the young arms I sent to Cleveland to get Asdrubal.
Next, just for the sake of 'why not', I signed OF Travis Buck and P Chris Volstad to minor league deals.
And, in my last move, I finally found a home for Kyle Blanks. I'd been floating his name all week and pitched his name to a few American League clubs that seemed like they had an opening he could fill but nobody showed any interest until the deadline was five minutes away. I sent him to Houston for LHP prospect Eric Jokisch (who they acquired from the Cubs earlier in the simulation) and low-A SS Jean Batista.
In retrospect, I feel like I could have done a much better job but I didn't do as poorly as I feared. I managed to put together a starting rotation and make a huge upgrade up the middle without spending an absurd amount of money or leaving the farm barren.
After my acquisitions, the rotation would consist of Haren, Fiers, Richard, Volquez and likely Anthony Bass or Eric Stults in the fifth slot until Cory Luebke is ready to return. Casey Kelly is still waiting in the wings along with insurance policies Stauffer, Moseley, and, god forbid, Volstad. Former Ray J.P. Howell will take Thatcher's place in the bullpen and the only change to the lineup is the Cabreras.
I feel I can call my tenure a success because I kept my moves within reason. There were a few trades and signings that seemed fairly ridic but for the most part people seemed to try to stick at least around their realistic budget.
Above all, it was a great time. I'm grateful to RR for setting this up and am glad to have had the opportunity to be part of it.