The idea of taking a shot at an offseason plan is always a fun one. Here’s my attempt. As best as I could, I used the arbitration projections cited elsewhere. I also used the free agent projections at MLBTradeRumors as starting points. And I had the advantage of being able to include the Urshela and Farmer moves and other action that’s happened to date.
First, the sunk costs – options that didn’t get picked up: Bundy $1M, Archer $.75M and Sano $2.75M for a total cost of $4.5M
Next is the rotation guys already on the roster – Gray $11.825M, Ryan $1M, Mahle $7.2M, Maeda $3.125M, Paddack $2.4M, Dobnak $1.5M, Winder $0.75M, Ober $0.75M, for a total cost of $28.5M. I’m willing to run with this group of eight, knowing I’ve got Woods Richardson, Varland, Enlow, Balazovic, Henriquez and Enlow in St. Paul. I’ll also grab a couple Aaron Sanchez/Dereck Rodriguez-types on minor league contracts to see if I can catch lightning in a bottle.
Relievers on the roster – Duran $0.725M, Thielbar $2.4M, Lopez $3.7, Moran $0.725M, Jax $0.75M, Alcala $0.8M, for a total cost of $9.1M. The close reader will note the absence of Pagan. I’m actually not that averse to keeping him around, but I’m going to take advantage of the rumor mill that says multiple teams expressed interest. Stay tuned.
Catcher – Jeffers at $1.3M. We’ll need more, obviously. Stay tuned.
Infield – The mixture of Miranda (1b/3b) $0.75M, Farmer (ss/3b) $5.9M, Arraez (1b/2b) $5M, Polanco (2b) $7.5M and Gordon (2b/ss) $0.75M gets us a base-level infield at $19.9M, with Lewis and Lee waiting in the wings. You might wanna stay tuned, however.
Outfield – The mix of Buxton $15.143, Kepler $8.5M, Larnach $1M, Kirilloff $1M, Celestino $0.725, Wallner $0.725M and Cave $0.8M gives flexibility at $27.893M. I think Kepler will bounce back and at least one of the Larnach/Kirilloff/Wallner trio will fully blossom. Consider as well that Gordon and even Lewis or Lee could fit into this picture as well.
And that gives us a total cost of $91.193M so far, with just the need for a catcher, bullpen depth and miscellaneous other improvements. There’s really no one on this list that can’t DH, so I’m assuming people will rotate through that spot.
We’ll start with catcher. The Blue Jays are operating from a position of depth with Alejandro Kirk, mega-prospect Gabriel Moreno and still-young Danny Jansen. It’s also a team that is seeking bullpen depth, so I’m going to offer Pagan for Jansen. It may take a prospect to add to the mix, but I’m comfortable that it won’t need to be a highly ranked guy, so I’ll plug in Jansen at $3.7M, bringing us to $94.893M.
I’m still needing bullpen depth, but I’ll first address the elephant in the room – miscellaneous improvements. I give Correa a raise to $35.5M per year for the next four years, with an opt out, followed by two years at $32M with another opt out, followed by two years at $30M. That’s a guarantee of $266M over eight years, but it’s front-loaded for him and gives him the ability to opt out after his age 31 and 33 seasons, both ages when he’s still young enough to get a six- or four-year deal. With his $35.5M for 2023, our total is $130.393M as we head to the bullpen.
I’ve always had a thing for David Robertson, and he proved me right this year. He’s served as a closer and as a setup guy in the past, and I offer him the 2/$16M MLBTR suggests. I’m generally skeptical of big contracts to relievers, but seeing Kenley Jansen at 2/$26M is too good to pass up.
That pushes the budget up to $151.393, but I’ll have a bit of savings in that I’ve got dollar figures attached to 30 guys. Though all 30 guys will see MLB time at some point, several of them won’t get the total listed here, since they’ll spend some time in the minors. I figure that’ll save a couple million.
And as it turns out, I’ve got a March birthday, and the bosses give me a birthday present. On MLBTRs list, they’ve got dollar values assigned to nine relievers, with an annual salaries of $4.5M at the bottom. In their list of “honorable mention,” they’ve got Michael Fulmer, Craig Kimbrel, Seth Lugo, Matt Moore and Matt Strahm. If any of them don’t get a major league deal, I give them a minor league contract with opt-out dates and an incentive-based contract.
And the birthday present gets even better – to me, the most conspicuous name that’s missing from MLTTR’s article is Aroldis Chapman. Seeing him unsigned, I give him a $3M guarantee with incentives and look forward to him slamming the door in Game 7 of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium.
Chapman’s $3M balances the bit of savings that’s in guys who’ve been optioned, and leaves me with a budget of just over $150M, but when the higher-ups think about adding Chapman, Jansen, Robertson and a veteran on a minor league contract to a bullpen that already has Duran, Jax, Lopez, Thielbar, Alcala and Moran, they say “Go for it” and give me a $300 bonus gift certificate to spend in the team store.
But alas, that’s still not enough to get one of the new jerseys. I liked the old ones better anyway.