Every year I get to participate in a really fun experience whereby I spend three crazy days with 29 other fans all to simulate the baseball off-season. The organizer of this insanity is Max Rieper of the excellent Royals Review sight. I was given a budget of roughly $151 million for a much better team than in years past with the goal of bringing us back to the playoffs for the first time since 2005-2006.
Goals were as followed
1. Try to keep as much of the core together that went to the playoffs
2. Do what you can to bring back Jurickson Profar & Trevor Rosenthal
3. Find more pitching (starting and relief) and bench help
4. Try to keep it roughly at the same payroll
We were also informed there would be no DH in the NL in 2021 and that all team salaries would be roughly similar to what they were last season.
Padres non-tender RHP Luis Perdomo & 2B Greg Garcia, buy out 1B Mitch Moreland
Neither non-tender fit the Padres any longer and with it being decided there would be no DH, Moreland didn’t have a purpose on the team.
Padres trade LHP Joey Lucchesi, C Francisco Meija, and LHP Osvaldo Hernandez to the Blue Jays for OF Derek Fisher, RHP Julian Merryweather, and SS/3B Kevin Smith.
The Padres have a clear roster crunch and equally so, they have pieces that do not fit in the long-term plan of this team. Lucchesi & Mejia are the clearest examples of that and Hernandez has been lapped multiple times by other players even amongst the J2 group. In their place is a mixture of immediate talent and an interesting depth piece. Merryweather is excellent depth with a mixture of pitches that could play either in the bullpen or as a backend starter/depth, which is what I need. Either he can make the team in the bullpen/LR or go to AAA for depth. Smith is great defensively and has pop but needs to work on his swing, which he would do in Amarillo. I’m looking at him as a long-term depth piece who could provide great defense and pop off the bench. Fisher would play 2 positions in the OF at least and hasn’t been given a real chance to get any time in either Toronto or Houston.
Or so I thought…….
Padres trade OF Tommy Pham, RHP Anderson Espinoza & OF Derek Fischer to the Brewers for LHP Aaron Ashby & UT Thomas Dillard.
With no DH, nowhere to play him but LF and an increasingly expensive cost, I didn’t see a reason to keep Pham around. He wasn’t going to stay past 2021 so I figured I could get something of value for him now. Espinoza might’ve been one of AJ’s first big trades but too many injuries meant he wasn’t going to get a serious chance. And Fischer is nice but I wasn’t attached to him. Aaron is the son of Andy, and it’s nice to bring an Ashby home to the Friars. He will spend the year in Amarillo and his slider/change up combo is among the best in the system which he adds a 95MPH fastball and a meh curveball combined with a funky delivery. Dillard is kind of a Kyle Schwarber on steroids (not literally) player in that he can cover the OF, 1B and Catcher. He also has amazing switch-hitting power and bat speed with increasing OBP skills and even some speed on the base paths. He’d likely also go to Amarillo and provides more depth and unique skills to a Padre team looking for more creative players. This clears a few roster and salary issues.
The Big Ones
Padres trade RHP Reggie Lawson & C Blake Hunt to Royals for RP Josh Staumont
I overpaid and I admit it. I’m a huge fan of Staumont, think he’s a magnificent reliever who could be something very special in the short term. More importantly he’s going to be very cheap for a few years. Rosenthal went for an insane $14m/year and once the price got over $10m I needed to find some more talent in the bullpen. Staumont could join Pomeranz, Adams & Pagan to form a pretty deadly group of relievers allowing the Padres to shorten games with only one of them being expensive. I believe with this I solidified the bullpen in a big way.
Padres re-sign OF Jurickson Profar for 4 years, $30 million.
I feel like this was the no brainer and once it started becoming more and more obvious that I was going to sign him, I felt confident I could trade Pham. Profar put everything together and became a key component of this team, even when a young stud in Jake Cronenworth took his original position. Now he can basically own LF and play for the team that truly seems to have unlocked his potential.
Padres Trade RHPs Javier Guerra & Chris Paddack to Rays for 2B Vidal Brujan, RHP Shane Baz & OF Josh Lowe
This is a very unique trade and a lot of it is based on how I feel Paddack thoroughly damaged his stock in my book. It’s not so much the velocity or that he had trouble locating his pitches but that he had nothing but a bad attitude about it nor did he seem willing to admit he had to fix his problem. With that in mind I flipped him and a reliever I didn’t want for three top notch MLB ready players now with years of cheap control remaining.
Brujan is the third best prospect in the Rays system and is an absolute terror on the basepaths. Brujan is one of the fastest in the minors and is possibly the most advanced base stealer there as well. He also shows excellent batting skills as a switch hitter with advanced knowledge of the strike zone and a surprising amount of pop. I consider him one of two things; security if Cronenworth was a flash in the pan or, possibly, another option at second base. After all, it’s not like Jake doesn’t have experience at, for example, first base. Baz is the fifth rated prospect and has some high risk but equally high reward. His four-seam fastball is devastating with high 90s speed and is combined with a wipeout slider that runs into the 80s. He has a changeup and curve but they rate as average as best. I see him as similar in a way to Paddack but without the BS swagger and attitude. Finally, Lowe is, in my opinion, ready now. His hitting is good and when combined with his excellent power and easy swing, you can see something special. This is combined with excellent defense and speed meaning he could easily handle RF at Petco.
Padres trade OF Wil Myers & $10 million total to the Astros for 1B/3B Yuli Guriel, OF Zach Daniels & RHP Jojanse Torres
Count me among the people who absolutely don’t believe that Myers will keep his streak going. With his price, with his questionable history, this was about the best chance I had to clear him out and not swallow nearly all his contract. Plus I have a better option now in RF with Josh Lowe of playoff fame. Guriel is basically a one year $6.5m utility player but he can provide backup for both Hosmer (with Moreland out) and Machado as well. Most importantly Myers’ salary is off the books by and large. Both prospects are good in their own way. Torres can run it up to 100mph for a whole start and combines it with a devastating slider and improving change-up. He needs to work on his control but you can’t teach that kind of speed, and worst case is he’s an impact bullpen arm in Amarillo. Daniels was drafted in 2019 and has fantastic speed, power and defense but needs work on recognizing breaking balls and his arm is only average necessitating a move to the corners. Still there’s more than enough time to work on it.
Padres trade RHP Zach Davies to the Rockies for OF Yonathan Daza, RHP Chris McMahon & LHP Sam Weatherly
Yet another move to save some money as Davies was super expensive in arbitration and as things progressed, I needed to clear him out. Trading in the division is problematic but I think I got a pretty good haul. Daza is all about hitting (but no power) combined with excellent defense in terms of route running and a cannon for an arm. He has a lot of potential in 2021 to either start at RF, be the fourth OF or go to El Paso while Greg Allen remains the backup. McMahon is still years away but shows high 90s with an excellent change and breaking ball, but has to clean up his motion a bit. Weatherly is also years away but has an amazing slider to pair with a low-mid 90s fastball and a rapidly improving change-up, which could easily see him move to the bullpen. Both will go to Fort Wayne and have years to go before any sort of rule 5 issues.
Now why have I been trying to save money?
Padres sign SP Trevor Bauer to a 6 year, $215M deal
Insert gif of "it’s happening!"
I had no idea I could pull this deal off, I didn’t know he’d take less years (but more money and an option year) than the Angels who had offered him 7 years $200 million. Does it really matter? Nope. Bauer is easily one of the best pitchers in baseball, he’s from California, he’s talked about playing for a winner, and I’m happy to oblige. The Padres have three of the best pitchers in baseball and Gore/Patino will round out the rotation starting in 2021. And I get to have revenge for the Angels stealing Ohtani, take that Anaheim!
Padres sign 2B/OF Tony Kemp for $800K
I’ve always been a big fan of his and he is, in my opinion, a far better Jorge Mateo. Not quite as fast but defensively and offensively better and can cover centerfield as well as second base. For a price like that I’m happy to bring him on.
Padres sign C Robinson Chirinos; 1 year $2.5m
I needed a backup catcher and by the time I got around to it, nearly everyone was gone. Even Jason Castro got more than this surprisingly. He was the best option, and the goal is to just fill in for Nola from time to time. And who knows when Campusano will be ready.
Padres sign INF Eric Sogard to 1 year, $1 million deal
Might’ve been a bit much but again we need infield depth of better quality than what we have. Sogard can cover second and short, giving two of our more valuable players a needed break. Sogard can also provide pinch hitting and running better than Mateo can.
Padres trade RP David Bednar to Oakland for C Drew Millas
After trading Hunt, I did want to increase our catching depth again. Millas is the A’s #29 prospect and will go to High A where he’s always shown excellent defensive ability and arm. He has power and is but hasn’t put it together as a hitter. Still he has talent and looks like a solid depth piece. For a reliever that was so far down the depth chart he was underground, I call that a decent deal.
Padres trade P Pedro Avila to the Tigers for RP Max Green
Yet another case of me clearing out some potential Rule 5 issues. Avila had no chance of ever being useful in the majors for the Padres so I sent him packing. Green is a LHP from Visalia who has posted decent reliever numbers at High A. I’d likely send him to Lake Elsinore where we could be a swingman or further develop as a reliever. He’s basically a lotto ticket.
Padres give minor league deals to INF Logan Forsythe, 3B Jose Osuna, INF Brad Miller, OF Jon Jay, Ps Brad Boxberger, Trevor Cahill, Ian Kennedy & Yoshihisa Hirano
The goal was just to get nice well-rounded veteran depth in the minors which this did on many levels with people who play a variety of positions or cover a number of roles. And the fact that most of them were former Padres only makes it sweeter.
I ended the simulation with a payroll of $150 million, roughly where the ‘owner’ wanted me to be. I also kept basically all my top prospects while bringing some excellent young talent in both in the very high minors from Tampa and scattered in the lower levels. The team has a stronger rotation, a deeper bullpen, a deeper bench and kept most of the core that won them a playoff series.
Additional interesting information
· I did try to keep Kirby Yates but he went to the Mets on a two years $18 million deal that was more than I was willing to spend
· I was also pursuing INF Zach Cosart and OF Yasiel Puig (the latter would’ve been more useful but he wanted a two year deal).
· My first iteration of the Paddack deal was going to be a one-for-one with the Angels for OF Brandon Marsh which would’ve been a fantastic OF addition with Grisham. I also explored a Paddack/Myers deal with Josh Hader as the key part of the return
· I did have initial discussions with the Royals about sending them Hosmer, but it would’ve cost far too much to send him back to KC. Ideally, I would’ve sent him out over Myers and could’ve installed Cronenworth at 1B with Brujan at 2B. Imagine that infield!
· I did explore Paddack deals with the Dodgers but I was demanding a lot for him, obviously.
· I did look into acquiring Mike Yasztremski from the Giants but it was cost prohibitive
· Myers did get additional nibbles from a lot of teams including the Cardinals, Angels & Brewers
· Pham was also very popular with the abovementioned teams alongside the Nationals & Indians
Starting line up
C: Aaron Nola
1B: Eric Hosmer
2B: Jake Cronenworth
SS: Fernando Tatis Jr
3B: Manny Machado
LF: Jurickson Profar
CF: Trent Grisham
RF: Josh Lowe/Yonathan Daza/Jorge Ona
Backup: C Robinson Chirinos, 1B/3B Yuli Guriel, MI Eric Sogard, 2B/OF Tony Kemp, OF Greg Allen
Other Options: OF Yonathan Daza, OF Jorge Ona
SP1: Trevor Bauer
SP2: Mike Clevinger
SP3: Dinelson Lamet
SP4: Mackenzie Gore
SP5: Luis Patino
Additional SP Options: Julian Merryweather, Adrian Morejon, Michel Baez, Shane Baz
RP: Tim Hill
RP: Pierce Johnson
RP: Matt Strahm
RP: Austin Adams
SU: Josh Staumont
SU: Emilo Pagan
CL: Drew Pomeranz
Additional Options: Dan Altavilla, Taylor Williams, Jose Castillo, Michel Baez
So how did I do?