From GCtoGM's Offseason Plans
I understand that I failed the assignment. I was supposed to come up with one plan, but I just needed to spill out all of my ideas so I had the evidence just in case 1. The A's do anything similar to anything I suggest here or 2. Any of this ends up looking good in hindsight. Also, as offseason plans are dictated by a lot of indeterminable factors, I wanted to list out my back-up plan to my back-up plan. I was really happy with my likely plan just a couple days ago, but then when I read about the A's targeting a potential trade with Miami, I started imagining something that went a little further, and then it just got out of hand. Enjoy!
Arbitration Eligible Players
All 3 plans start the same way, tendering contracts for all arbitration eligible players except Chris Hatcher and Josh Phegley. Jake Smolinski has an option year and will be sent down to AAA in all three plans, but is a decent and cheap outfielder to hit lefties and store in case of emergencies.
Plan 1: The Likely
Trade 1: Acquire Yasmani Grandal from the Dodgers for Joey Wendle and/or Yairo Munoz and/or Pitching Prospect (Up to Fillmyer)
I don't know what the Dodgers will take for Grandal, obviously, so my trade proposal is a range from what it might take to the most I would give up, with some names thrown in. What the Dodgers could use is middle infield depth, relief pitching, and starting pitching depth that can be stored in the minors. I know Wendle doesn't get the job done, but suspect Munoz opens a conversation and am willing to part with some of our slightly promising relief pitchers that might need a change of scenery, including Hendriks and Dull, as well as some of our back of the rotation prospects.
The value of Grandal to the A's is obvious. While he only has one year on his contract, and the Dodgers now have Austin Barnes as the heir apparent behind the plate, Grandal can be squeezed out and has more value to us than to them. He is a superb pitch framer and would help our rotation to play-up their stuff every day he catches. He is a switch hitter, but is better against right handed pitchers, allowing us to place him in a platoon and only need a cheap LHH catcher, of which there are several available in free agency. He is not too expensive, and should make around $8 million this year, and fixes the biggest problem this team has in its lineup and defense. Finally, his short contract won't block Murphy, but we all know by now we need a catcher this year to compete and he's the best one we can feasibly get.
Alternative: Sign Alex Avila for 2 years, $16 million
Not as good, but still an upgrade, and won't cost any prospects. He's our plan B in case the Dodgers ask too much. Castillo and Lucroy also available alternatives.
Free Agent 1: Sign Chris Iannetta for 1 year, $4 million
I doubt he even costs this much, but Iannetta gives us the LHH side of our platoon, is a roughly average pitch framer according to Baseball Prospectus, and can hit right handed pitching decently if we need him to on any given day.
Free Agent 2: Sign one of CC Sabathia, Tyler Chatwood, Andrew Cashner, or Jhoulys Chacin to a 1-2 year deal up to $12 million per year
All of these guys come with risk and outperformed their FIP, but all could also be a stabilizing presence in the middle of the rotation for the next year or two, which is what the A's need until their top-tier pitching prospects are ready to go.
Free Agent 3-4: Sign two of Mike Minor, Brandon Morrow, Juan Nicasio, Jake McGee, Steve Cishek, Tommy Hunter, Pat Neshek, and Tony Watson
The first few names will take three years, maybe even four, the last few will only take one or two, but all are projected to cost around $6-8 million per year and all have had recent success in relief. Sign a couple of them and make our bullpen a bit more stable.
Bonus Free Agent: Sign Zack Cozart for 3 years, $40 million
I know we have Marcus Semien at shortstop and I know that we could possibly spend our money more wisely, but it has been reported that Cozart is going to get a deal as low as 2-3 years, $20-30 million and almost certainly less than 4 years and $50 million. He did not get a qualifying offer, so he will not cost a draft pick, which could make him pricier, admittedly. He has an injury history, and last year was the first year that he really exploded offensively. But, he just put up a 5 WAR year, even with an injury that limited him to 122 games, he has always played above average defense at a premium position where we do not currently have it, and he could simply be another, hopefully sustainable, product of the flyball revolution and the juiced ball. It’s a medium risk signing, it adds to our glut of middle infielders and maybe blocks some of our most promising prospects for the moment, but again, there is an opportunity to take a risk on a 5-6 WAR player and get him for the same price over the next couple years as Khris Davis. This would allow us to make Semien a top bench player and would give us enviable depth. We could try making Semien a utility player and having him face LHP in left field, or we could just let him play at SS to give Cozart a break regularly, keep them both healthy, and place one at DH to have both of them face LHP at every opportunity (even given Semien’s reverse splits last year).
One possible roster could look like this:
LF: Joyce (Davis)
CF: Powell (Fowler)
RF: Fowler (Pinder)
C: Grandal (Iannetta)
DH: Davis (Semien or Nunez or Healy)
Rotation: Manaea, Sabathia et al., Graveman, Mengden, Blackburn
Bullpen: Minor, Morrow, Treinen, Hendriks, Dull, Coulombe, Casilla (Montas, Alcantara probably stealing spots or traded for lottery picks because they are out of options)
Plan 2: The Possible
I’ll just highlight the differences and then lay out lineups
Trade 1: Acquire Yasmani Grandal, Joc Pederson, and Brandon McCarthy for Jorge Mateo + Pieces
Just a bigger version of the plan 1 trade that nets us Grandal and two other pieces that are being pushed out of LA, but it costs more. Maybe I am not as high on Mateo as I should be, so sub in Franklin Barreto if you prefer (I wouldn’t) or Max Schrock or Sheldon Neuse with more pitching pieces (possibly giving them back Holmes?). I would hope it would not take that big of a piece to get these three, but it would net us the catcher we need, an outfielder with bounceback potential, and a solid rotation piece (when healthy). It gives the Dodgers a better piece to plug into their middle infield plans of the future.
Trade 2: Acquire Jackie Bradley Jr. for Khris Davis, Ryon Healy or Renato Nunez + Pieces
Bradley would take a lot of pressure off of Fowler to be our CF out of the gate and would shore up our outfield defense. He had a down 2017 following an exceptional two years (though was still worth more than Davis) and could get pushed out of the Red Sox outfield given their glut of young talent and their thirst for a powerful bat. Khris Davis gives them the powerful bat, though a lesser version of the bat they would sign J.D. Martinez to be, though at a fraction of the price if JD is really going to get anything close to what he is reportedly asking for. Also, if they want more power, and to prevent Hanley Ramirez’s option from vesting, they can take one of our 1B/DH bats and together plug in about 70 home runs to their lineup for the year.
Still pick up Iannetta, a couple bullpen pieces, and one of the cheaper rotation options. Let’s imagine we can still sign Cozart, though that might be pushing our budget, depending on the team’s plans. While Bradley is cheaper than KD, McCarthy is on the hook for roughly the same amount. Let’s just imagine that we get some cheaper pitching options and stay just under budget.
Plan 2 Roster:
LF: Pederson (Pinder)
C: Grandal (Iannetta)
DH: Joyce (Semien)
Rotation: Manaea, Chatwood., Graveman, McCarthy, Mengden or Blackburn
Bullpen: Treinen, McGee, Hunter, Hendriks, Dull, Coulombe, Casilla
The one person pushed out by this is Powell, though he would be our first one up if Pederson does not bounce back and Joyce gives us added outfield depth while we store him as the strong side of a DH platoon.
Plan 3: The Full Crazy
Note: I realize that this plan takes us a little over budget (though not a ridiculous amount) and requires some teams to pick up some money in trades, but just look at what we end up with.
"I’m just asking you for a little bit of help. Just get me a little bit closer, and I will get you that championship team."
Trade 1: A’s Acquire Jackie Bradley Jr. (and money) from the Red Sox, Brad Ziegler, Marcell Ozuna, Dee Gordon, Wei-Yin Chen (and money) from the Marlins. Boston Acquires Khris Davis, Jed Lowrie, Santiago Casilla (salary dump) and Renato Nunez or Ryon Healy. Miami Acquires Logan Shore, Frankie Montas, Whatever Prospects Boston Adds, and Sheds $41 Million in Payroll
The A’s take on a lot of money, and in return they get two-thirds of an incredible outfield, a bounceback reliever, a speedy and proven second baseman, and a great, when healthy, rotation piece. The Red Sox get their power and also get a quality stop-gap while Pedroia is injured. I assumed they would take Lowrie over Gordon simply because they don’t need a second baseman until 2020 (with a 2021 option), just to start them out next year and give them insurance. The Marlins get to shed a lot of salary - in fact almost all of the salary they need to shed to get down to their $90 million target, giving them more leverage in a Stanton trade - and pick up some promising pitching prospects. This does leave the A’s in a tough spot financially over the next couple years. While Ziegler is a free agent after this year, Ozuna is not a free agent until 2020, Bradley is not a free agent until 2021, and both Chen and Gordon have 2021 options and Chen especially gets more expensive as time goes on. The hope, of course, is that Chen can stay healthy and be flipped within the next year or two.
Trade 2: A’s Acquire Grandal (and possibly McCarthy) from the Dodgers (see the above)
If McCarthy can drop Grandal’s price or the Dodgers can pay some money back, perfect. Otherwise, A’s can acquire Grandal and cash and raise up the prospect they are giving back.
Iannetta, one bullpen piece, and if we don't acquire McCarthy, then somebody cheaper (and let’s keep imagining Cozart, but we can swap in Semien, because it’s almost definitely too much with the money they are taking on).
Plan 3 Roster:
SS: Cozart [more likely Semien]
C: Grandal (Iannetta)
DH: Joyce (Whoever is left of Healy/Nunez or Semien)
Possible Bench Piece: Powell or Pinder
Rotation: Chen, Manaea, McCarthy or Chatwood., Graveman, Mengden or Blackburn
Bullpen: Treinen, McGee, Ziegler, Hendriks, Dull, Coulombe, Alcantara
And just to give you an idea of budget:
Olson, Chapman, Fowler, Pinder, Powell, Manaea, Mengden/Blackburn, Dull, Coulombe, and Alcantara are all pre-arbitration eligible, together costing ~ $5 million
Gordon - $10.8M
Cozart - $12M
Bradley - $6M
Ozuna - $11M
Grandal - $8M
Iannetta - $4M
Joyce - $6M
Semien - $2M
Chen - $10M
Chatwood - $7M
Graveman - $2..5M
Treinen - $2.5M
Ziegler - $9M
Hendriks - $1M
McGee - $6M
Altogether, even with Cozart, equals $102.8M. If we can get Boston to give us $3M for preventing them from buying JD Martinez for more than he’s worth, we stay under $100M. More likely, we don’t sign Cozart, keeping Semien at shortstop, and drop down to around $90M.