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I simulated the 2020 Yankees offseason

How do the psuedo-Yankees match up against their real life counterparts?

Coronavirus - Stuttgart Photo by Sebastian Gollnow/picture alliance via Getty Images

Every year, the SB Nation community comes together, under the leadership and tireless work of Max at Royals Review, to simulate the five-month MLB offseason in three days. I was the representative for the Yankees this year, giving New York an executive with good hair for the first time in a generation.

The bulk of moves are made within the simulation’s Slack channel, with a few thousand emails and texts sent over the three-day period. Before the sim starts, Max assembles the current roster and assigns a budget for each team to stick through. My budget for the winter was $250,000,000, which I defined as an extremely liberal budget. It’s not one the actual Yankees will get, but I did, and allowed me to build the strategy the team needs.

I also had two prime directives in addition to the budget - return as much of the lineup as possible, and deepen the pitching staff. I believe in this team’s offense; any lineup with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton and Luke Voit and Gio Urshela will put up runs. Of course there’s one key name missing there - DJ LeMahieu, my first target.

This sim is pretty realistic, largely because everyone representing a team takes it seriously. However, I extended the qualifying offer to DJ, along with Masahiro Tanaka, and in the least-realistic element of the sim, LeMahieu accepted! I had prepared to offer DJ up to 4/$92 million, and to get him for $19 million is a steal in my eyes, and virtually sealed any work I had to do offensively.


Do you approve of extending the QO to DJ LeMahieu?

This poll is closed

  • 87%
    Strongly Agree
    (660 votes)
  • 9%
    (74 votes)
  • 1%
    (13 votes)
  • 0%
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Strongly disagree
    (4 votes)
755 votes total Vote Now

The other move on the position player side was a better backup infielder. I think we’ve all worn out our interest in Tyler Wade, so I dealt him to Oakland - who want to start him! - and flipped Grant Holmes, a relief arm with real potential who would start the season in the minors. I then inked Adeiny Hechavarria to a 1 year, $900,000 deal. He does everything Wade does except slightly better.

Now it was time to turn to the pitching staff. First, we had to decide who was leaving, and in this case, I turned down J.A. Happ’s option, let Tanaka walk after he turned down the QO, and designated Adam Ottavino as a suboptimal bullpen piece, while picking up Zack Britton’s option for 2022.

Ottavino got dealt back to Colorado, in exchange for Double-A arm Antonio Santos, and paying half of Ottavino’s full $9 million 2020 salary. Santos can be improved at Scranton, and I just felt it was time for a change with Adam. To cover for his loss, I inked Blake Treinen to a two-year, $20 million deal.

The bullpen needed one more move, and I turned to a team I had already made a successful trade with - more on that later. The St Louis Cardinals were shopping Andrew Miller hard, willing to pay a whole lot of his $12.5 million salary. Miller bounced back in 2020, was hurt by the rabbit ball in 2019, and had strong underlying metrics in his previous two seasons. He’s a little on the older side but still effective, and when a team is willing to pay an awful lot of his deal, you take the call.

Troy Locey is a talented arm I picked up in an earlier trade with St Louis, but dealing Canaan Smith hurt. My AGM - Peter Brody - and director of scouting Dan Kelly both groaned when I pitched the offer, but eventually all agreed that the immediate ability of Miller, at a severely discounted price with the Cards paying nearly all his salary, was worth the sting. Losing Smith stings, but so does champagne.

The last minor move in the bullpen was flipping Luis Cessa to Minnesota for what was essentially a better Tyler Wade in Nick Gordon. Gordon plays all over the infield, has good speed, and notched an .800 OPS at Triple-A, when Wade had never gone over .760. Minor move, to be sure, but marginal upgrades are still upgrades.

The last, and most pressing issue, was the starting rotation. Happ was gone, Tanaka was gone, the Yankees had Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery, and waited on Luis Severino to come back from Tommy John surgery. To the Cardinals!

I confess that I love Alex Reyes. He throws as hard, with as good a spin, as anyone in baseball. He has three years of team control. I don’t care for Anthony Volpe at all, which makes him an attractive piece to dangle for other teams:

Austin Wells is the piece that counts the most here, a really excellent bat who needs a position before he has a path to the majors. Again, talented arms with three years of control are hard to come by, and the onus is now on Blake Cressey to keep Reyes on the mound.

Next up, a simple, easy two-year, $40 million deal for Charlie Morton. He wanted to retire, I had a little extra spending money because of DJ and Miller, so I was able to coax him back into the fold. We now had a rotation of Cole, Reyes, Morton and Montgomery, but I wanted one more piece. I wanted the guy that can actually start game two of the ALDS. It was perhaps the most controversial deal of the entire sim, but if you know me, you know who I really, really wanted.

Houston Astros v Texas Rangers Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

A top five pitcher in baseball over the past two and a half years, earning just $10 million in CBT hit for 2021? I’ve talked about Lance Lynn endlessly on PSA, and now was my chance to get him. Brace yourself, because the package was an overpay.

Miguel Andújar has no spot on the Yankees’ roster. Jonathan Loáisiga definitely needs a change of scenery, and in fact was flipped to Cincinnati immediately after this deal. Kevin Alcantara and Deivi García were the big pieces, and my AGM warned me that the deal was a little heavy on the Yankees side.

But I don’t care. I don’t care about García’s 2023 projection. I care about winning a World Series with the core the Yankees have in place, and the best way to do that is to pair Gerrit Cole with another Cy Young caliber pitcher right now. I said above, losing prospects stings, but so does champagne.

Our budget was $250 million, and the entire squad costs $243 million. We rebuilt the rotation from the ground up, kept the AL MVP finalist, and shored up bullpen reserves. The team’s prospect capital took a hit, but I’m interested in winning now, and put together what I believe is the best team in the American League.

The 2021 Opening Day 26-man roster:

Position players - Gary Sánchez, Kyle Higashioka, Luke Voit, DJ LeMahieu (brought back on QO), Gleyber Torres, Gio Urshela, Clint Frazier, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Mike Tauchman, Adeiny Hechavarría (Signed FA), Mike Ford.

Starting rotation - Gerrit Cole, Lance Lynn (Trade with TEX), Alex Reyes (Trade with STL), Charlie Morton (signed FA), Jordan Montgomery

Bullpen - Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton (exercised option), Blake Treinen (Signed FA), Andrew Miller (Trade with STL), Chad Green, Jonathan Holder, Ben Heller, Rafeal Montero (Trade with TEX).

Drew Butera and Matt Harvey signed as minor league free agents, lending some catching depth and maybe selling some tickets at Scranton.

Damn good team.


How would you grade this simulated offseason?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    (96 votes)
  • 35%
    (219 votes)
  • 30%
    (187 votes)
  • 12%
    (79 votes)
  • 6%
    (41 votes)
622 votes total Vote Now