The regular season has been over with for a month now and baseball teams are planning their rosters for the 2016 regular season. Our friends over at Royals Review host an off-season GM simulation, in which writers and fans get to be the general manager of their teams. You can see the full results here. This year, I decided to enter as the Yankees' GM. You can just call me Greg Cashman from now on. My team and I looked at many different options available to us. After witnessing our moves this offseason, we'll see if you demand I be fired or not. Please keep in mind that this is a mock simulation, so contracts are slightly inflated. By slightly, I mean maniacally.
Of course, Ryan picked up the player option because real Cashman was foolish enough to give him that option. So no surprises here. Honestly, he can be designated for assignment if we have no space for him.
Andrew Bailey and Sergio Santos
I'd say this is pretty self explanatory.
Acquired Starlin Castro from the Chicago Cubs for Ian Clarkin, Jacob Lindgren, and Jose De Leon
This was the Yankees' first trade of the simulation. The Cubs were looking to get rid of Castro and replenish their farm system. After the Yankees' dismal Stephen Drew experiment at second base last year, we needed someone more substantial at the position. Mind you, if the asking price for Castro was too high, we were fully prepared to keep the Dustin Ackley/Rob Refsnyder platoon in play. Negotiations went back and forth for twenty e-mails. Names like James Kaprielian and Luis Torrens were tossed around. In the end, an equitable agreement was made.
I'm pretty sure I don't have to say that Castro provides an upgrade over Drew. Castro is 25 years old, a pretty decent hitter, and we didn't have to give up top prospects to get him. He was an All-Star as recently as 2014 and took to second base very well in the second half of 2015. Between him, Didi Gregorius, Dustin Ackley, and Brendan Ryan, the middle infielders will be able to get rest if need be. Overall, we're happy with this move and the non-Drewicity of second base.
Acquired Jorge Alfaro and Cornelius Randolph from Philadelphia for Rob Refsnyder and Nathan Eovaldi
With the acquisition of Starlin Castro, in addition to our free agents signings, the Yankees had a surplus of both pitcher and middle infielders. Throughout the majority of the simulation, the Phillies were very interested in Rob Refsnyder. For over a couple of days, there was little agreement on a fair deal for Refsnyder. Finally, after putting out flyers that we were looking to dump some starting pitchers, things got interesting.
After that flyer went out, the Phillies contacted us regarding Nathan Eovaldi. Jorge Alfaro and Cornelius Randolph were on our radar, but the Phillies would not give them both up for just Eovaldi. Since they were initially interested in Refsndyer, simply including him in the deal was all it required. Jorge Alfaro is one of the best catching prospects in the league right now. Gary Sanchez might very well work out, but it never hurts to have other options in case he doesn't. Cornelius Randolph is a young outfielder who shows pretty decent power. His name is pretty awesome as well. Prospects are good to have and this was an attempt at replenishing the system a bit.
Acquired Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds for Michael Pineda, Slade Heathcott, and John Ryan Murphy
This was one of two last minute trades of the simulation. In what was an attempt to unload our surplus of pitching and shed some money, the Yankees acquired Aroldis Chapman of the 103 mph eternal flame. According to the Reds' GM, the market on Chapman "wasn't robust." Since the simulation did not include already-made trades in real life, John Ryan Murphy was still available. With Gary Sanchez killing it in the AFL, in addition to the acquisition of Jorge Alfaro from the Phillies, Murphy was an easy choice to deal.
The Reds GM initially wanted Aaron Judge, but with our bullpen already a strength, Judge was off limits. They were willing to take Slade Heathcott though. While Heathcott shows a lot of promise, he has yet to show us a full season without getting injured somehow. That same reasoning, as well as our free agent acquisitions, went into why we felt Pineda was also expendable. This trade makes the Yankees bullpen one of the most dangerous in the league. Chapman, Miller, and Betances essentially give the Yankees three premiere relievers, each of whom could be our closer.
Acquired Ben Revere and Wendell Rijo from Boston for Brett Gardner
At this point, I'm pretty sure most people reading this think I'm insane. Not only did we trade away my favorite current Yankee, but we traded him to our mortal enemies. Bottom line is that this was a salary dump, as well as an attempt to replenish the farm a bit more. Rijo is a second baseman in the Red Sox farm and the Yankees could always use more position players in their farm system. Plus, Ben Revere would be a decent fifth outfielder/bench player. We were unable to find a trade where Jacoby Ellsbury's no-trade clause could get waived, so someone had to go to keep the final payroll under $300 million.
Free agent signings:
Signed Zack Greinke for 7 years $210 million
Now as you're reading this, I want you to remember what I said up above about this being a mock simulation and the contracts being a bit insane. Having said that, we really wanted Zack Grienke. He is one of the absolute best pitchers in the league. He gives the Yankees a genuine ace. The majority of GMs were offering him six years and we were willing to give him a seventh. Yankee fans will always question giving a pitcher of his age a seventh year, due to what we're dealing with regarding CC Sabathia. Our logic behind giving him a seventh year is that he could be our next Mike Mussina. For that, and his already incredible talent, we were 100% willing to give him that extra year.
Signed Justin Upton to a 8 year $230 million deal
This signing is going to take a bit of explanation. Justin Upton was not our first choice. In fact, he was our third choice. I'll get to our first choice later on. Jason Heyward was our second choice and we were willing to give him an insane GM simulation contract in order to get him. Our offer for Heyward was 10 years and $290 million with an opt out clause after five years. Yes, it's insane. Hilariously enough, the Cardinals made an "insaneier" deal, giving him 11 years and $310 million with the same opt-out clause. After that fell through, Justin Upton was the next best option out there. It was between him and Yoenis Cespedes after Heyward was signed, so we signed Upton. Adding his power to the lineup will be a huge asset in the long run.
Signed outfielder Chris Young to a 1 year $8 million deal
This was essentially a "just in case" move if we didn't get Heyward or Upton. Young was alright off the bench and should be again. If he's not, he can be designated for assignment without any real concern.
Signed Tyler Clippard to a 3 year $26 million deal
A move we made to bolster our bullpen before we got Chapman.
Signed Doug Fister to a 2 year $25 million deal
Since it was unknown whether or not we were going to get Grienke, Fister was a quick "spur of the moment" move made in order to strengthen the rotation. While not having the best two years in Washington, it was thought that Rothschild could get him back into better form.
Signed Edwin Jackson to a minor league deal
Another move that needs little explanation.
While we were willing to listen on everyone, the only two people that were seriously off the table for this GM simulation were Luis Severino and Greg Bird. Everybody else was free game. Now let's review what could have been.
Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Jorge Mateo, and Wilkerman Garcia to the Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton
Justin Upton was not our first choice. In fact, he was our third choice. I'll get to our third choice later on.
Welcome to "later on." In this GM simulation, the Marlins were in pure fire sale mode this year. They wanted prospects and boy did they get prospects. The Marlins GM came to us with the offer to trade Stanton and we were more than willing to free him from the neon clutches of Loria's dinger machine. What makes this deal a bit frustrating is that it was agreed upon by both parties. The only thing required was for Stanton to waive his no-trade clause, which was a decision the head of this GM simulation had to make. Ultimately, Max thought Stanton wouldn't waive his NTC after a year. When you consider what's coming out about the Marlins clubhouse, as well as the history of that organization in general, I do question this decision quite a bit. Still though, nothing I could do. That would have been sweet though.
Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Rob Refsnyder, and Michael Pineda to the Indians for Corey Kluber
Once the trade for Stanton was denied, we ventured out to see what we could get for some of our top prospects. While getting Grienke was still a top priority, I really wanted Kluber to complement that signing. Can you imagine the drool-worthiness of a Grienke & Kluber top of the rotation? The Indians GM really did consider the offer, but he was understandably reluctant to move Kluber.
Aaron Judge, Jorge Mateo, Eric Jagielo, and Chase Headley, plus $25 million to the Rockies for Nolan Arenado
This was another trade we tried for in conjunction with the Kluber trade. Nolan Arenado is a superstar third baseman. With Headley's defensive miscues this season, acquiring Arenado would have been a dream come true in terms of both offense and especially defense. The Rockies GM liked our offer, but it just didn't fit with the other moves they made in the simulation. Plus, just like Kluber, it's completely understandable why they would not want to move Arenado.
Ivan Nova for magic beans
I put this here for humorous reasons. We honestly could not give him away.
C - Brian McCann
1B - Mark Teixeira
2B - Starlin Castro
3B - Chase Headley
SS - Didi Gregorius
LF - Justin Upton
CF - Jacoby Ellsbury
RF - Carlos Beltran
DH - Alex Rodriguez
OF - Ben Revere
OF - Chris Young
IF - Gary Sanchez
IF - Dustin Ackley
P - Zack Grienke
P - Masahiro Tanaka
P - Luis Severino
P - Adam Warren
P - CC Sabathia
P - Doug Fister
P - Ivan Nova
P - Tyler Clippard
P - Justin Wilson
P - Dellin Betances
P - Andrew Miller
P - Aroldis Chapman
Here is your 25-man roster for 2016. Spring Training will be a battleground of infielders hoping to make the roster. Headley is going to need a defensive backup, which is why Ryan will be at Spring Training. Injuries happen all the time, so we want to keep all our options available. However, we will attempt to see if Ackley or Castro can play some 3rd base this year. If they can, and everyone is healthy, expect Ryan to be cut.
Recommended Budget: $241 million
Final Payroll: $276.5 million
It was an expensive fake offseason for the Yankees, but we felt it was overall worth it. The Yankees primary needs were second base and starting pitching. Our current pitching staff is now Grienke, Tanaka, Severino, Warren, and Fister, with Sabathia and Nova in limbo. Since this is a simulation and we're in charge, we're putting Sabathia and Nova in the pen to help with long relief and spot starting needs. Grienke and Tanaka make a solid 1-2 combo. Warren and Severino absolute impressed us last year and we have no issues with putting them in the starting rotation. We also feel that Larry Rothschild can turn Fister around. Signing him had nothing to do with his last name and pun purposes. We promise. Combine that with our now monstrous bullpen of Miller, Betances, Chapman, Wilson, Clippard and other assorted flavors, and we feel pretty good about the pitching.
On the offensive side of things, it pretty much is what it is. Would I have liked to trade away Teixiera and Beltran to make room for Greg Bird and Aaron Judge? Sure. That was not happening though. For starters, they both have NTCs that were not getting waived. Second, no one was going to give up anything of value for just one year of their services. Third, both of them had bounce back years, so trading them would not have been a top priority anyway. The additional power of Justin Upton and the offensive improvement of Castro over Drew should help cement what was already a pretty decent lineup.
One satisfying thing is that we did not have to trade away any of our top prospects to improve. Greg Bird, Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Jorge Mateo, and Gary Sanchez are all still here and will be ready to replace certain players when their contracts expire. It is for that reason why we decided that this year was the year to spend and go over budget. Money will start coming off the books after the 2016 season and the free agent pool is not as deep next year. Without sacrificing important aspects of the future, we improved in certain key areas of the offense, got an ace, and put together a deliciously dangerous pen.
Bottom line, Greg Cashman and the team didn't give any bunts about Hal and Hank's money!
It was an interesting experience to be Greg Cashman. Being a GM requires a lot of it is planning, waiting, anticipation, and a ton of back and forth proposals. You essentially have to have plans within plans within plans in motion. It reminds me a lot of poker. You're not just playing your hand, but your opponents hand as well. There's a lot of luck and bluffing involved. Overall, it was a fun and time consuming experience.
So what are your thoughts? How would you set the lineup? How fired is Greg Cashman? Should we let Hal & Hank out of the closet we obviously locked them in while throwing their money into the wind?