Wherein Old Man Duggan picks up the metaphorical phone, frantically calling every GM trying to get a bottle of cheap Chianti and a copy of The Vow on Blu-Ray in return for Luke Hochevar before wistfully letting him go.
(Updated Friday, December 7, 7:00 PM)
So Retro got the bright idea to try to simulate the offseason with desperate fools in the SBNation universe such as myself to act as the General Manager for each club. Since he pitched it to the Royals Review mods first, I volunteered to take the helm of these Kansas City Royals, drawing motivation more from guilt over checking out over the offseason while the likes of Clark Fosler, Craig Brown, Jeff Zimmerman, Nick Scott, and Codename: Royals Retro (I won't out you here, fella) attempt to harvest crops in the desert that is the Annual Royals Offseason Death March Toward Never Ending Futility.
None of us are qualified to actually be General Managers of a Major League Baseball team. I am sure I am furthest from qualified of anyone in the entirety of SBNation userdom.
Still, as I make moves as the shadow franchise that y'all hold so dear, I'll head back here and update this post. I'll not be StoryStreaming this because that would imply that what I'm doing has a vitality that it doesn't. Maybe if one of my aforementioned brethren were doing this, you'd look on with longing, wishing that this was the team that would be nearest the dirt come Opening Day. Instead, you will get the opportunity to Tuesday Morning Quarterback the Monday Morning Quarterback.
First things first (after a belabored introduction), I'm operating under the assumption that I've got roughly $75,000,000 with which to craft the roster. If you need refreshing as to the method to Retro's madness, look no further than the Winter Meetings thread.
Rosters picked up as though no moves had been made past the end of the season.
My first order of business was to deal with the options/buyouts and tendering of contract offers to arbitration-eligible players.
This leaves the internal roster before any trades or free agent signings looking roughly like this:
**Club Option with $500K buyout
****Club Option with $1.0M buyout
Honestly, that's more than 25 players, but Duffy and Paulino start the season on the DL. I also am not entirely sure what Crow's 2013 salary will be, as his three-year, $3.0MM Major League contract that he signed when drafted came to its end at the end of the 2012 season. That doesn't much matter though, because...
I believe that his early season BABIP fueled troubles were just random bad luck. The rest of his peripherals do not seem to signify something else, and he was much more like his 2010 and 2011 self in the last 65 games of the season, which saw him triple-slash .280/.360/.488 with a much more characteristic .319 BABIP. He was still worth 1.6 fWAR last season, and perhaps more importantly, he was actually healthy for the second of the past three seasons. With a limited payroll, there isn't much room for error, but Weeks was worth 6.4 and 3.6 fWAR in 2010 and 2011 respectively, and 2011 was over the course of just 118 games. It's a calculated risk, but if there is one thing that the Royals had, it was arms in the bullpen.
Weeks's contract has him earning $10.0MM in 2013, $11.0MM in 2014, and there is a club option to void the contract if Weeks fails to either make 600 plate appearances in 2014 or 1,200 combined in the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
Obviously, this deal was built around Moustakas and Bauer. Johnson fills the hole left at third base at a relatively affordable price of $2.2MM. Collins's slight frame and tendency to wear down as the season progressed made him expendable to me. Like quite a few of you out there, I have concerns about Moustakas's ability to draw a walk. I also felt like his value was inflated in large part by the defensive metrics that will likely view him less kindly next year. More importantly, Bauer has the front of the rotation ceiling that the Royals yearn with an extra year of cost control. Furthermore, if I can justify it, Bauer can spend 42 days in the minors (he logged 21 days of ML-service in 2012) to start the season and then get called up, delaying free agency by another year. Regardless, Bauer brings back at least one extra year of cost-controlled play.
It's clear that I gave up a boatload of prospects in this deal. Ventura is obviously the one to worry about losing the most right now, as he's not far from helping out at the Major League level and has been healthy. I do worry about his slight frame, however, and Lamb, Montgomery, and Hernandez are far from sure things. I was reluctant to trade them all for just Bud Norris, but when I was able to shed Jeff Francoeur's contract, freeing up another $3.85MM of payroll space, it seemed like a feasible cost. 2013 is the first of Norris's three years of arbitration eligibility.
Free Agent Signing One
- Ryan Dempster signed to three-year, $42.0MM deal with a $2.0MM performance bonus each season that is triggered if he reached 150 IP.
Of the starters available, it was clear that Zack Greinke
Jonathan Anibal Sanchez
, and Edwin Jackson
were going to cost too much for Kansas City. I'd have loved to sign Kuroda, but he was likely staying on one of the coasts. To me, Dempster was the best bet of the remaining options. He's been remarkably durable. His fastball lost a little velocity, which could just as easily be related to aging as an injury. Perhaps most importantly, the club is only committed to him for three years. He's been consistently worth roughly 3.0 fWAR for the past four years.
The Cardinals came a-callin' wanting to move Jake Westbrook and willing to eat a large portion of his contract. The money St. Louis is kicking in covers all but $1.0MM of his salary this year. There is a mutual option for $9.5MM in 2014 with a $1.0MM buyout, a buyout that is extremely likely to happen. Westbrook was worth 2.3 fWAR last season. Colon has largely been a disappointment in the minors. Despite reports that he was extremely close to being ready for the Majors when drafted, he was slow to develop in the Best Farm System Ever. Jason Adam's reputation was built largely by sterling scouting reports in Fall Instructs following being drafted, but the velocity has never been quite as high as it was then, and the results on the field have been underwhelming.
Free Agent Signing Two
Tom Gorzelanny signed to a two-year, $6.0MM deal with $500K performance bonuses that kick in each season if he reaches 100 IP
Obviously the bullpen was lacking. This move bumps either Vin Mazzaro or more likely Everett Teaford from the back end of the bullpen. He's a lefty with experience as both a starter and reliever. The flexibility is nice and is insurance against another five punches on the Yocum punch card this season at an affordable price tag. He does have two seasons in his past where he was worth more than 2.0 fWAR as a starter, so he's a nice back-up option for the rotation if it comes to that. The bonuses obviously kick in assuming that he's been needed as a starter in either season. This was $3.0MM less than what Carlos Villanueva was asking for if Gorzelanny's performance bonuses are triggered.
Not shockingly, Milwaukee and the commissioner's office (intentional lack of capitalization) have colluded to deprive Kansas Citians of the pleasure of watching Tom Gorzelanny hurl laced orbs. Dammit all to hell.
Free Agent Signing Two, Redux
- The Royals sign Blake Wood to a one-year, $507K deal.
After getting screwed out of Tom Gorzelanny and priced out of Edward Mujica
and Carlos Villanueva, I decided to extend a "Welcome Back" offer to Blake Wood. Having missed the 2012 season after being the first punch on the Royals Organizational Tommy John Surgery Punch Card at Dr. Lewis Yocum's office, the Royals weren't interested in bringing him back at a salary bumped up by arbitration eligibility. At roughly league minimum with a $7,000 good faith gesture extended to Wood after paying him to not pitch in 2012. Ryan Dempster has been assured that this $7,000 will not affect the daily stream of Wheat Thins to his locker. The Royals reasonably expect Blake Wood to be ready to pitch at or around Opening Day.
Free Agent Signing Three
The last glaring hole one the roster was a left-hander who could just be counted on to stay in the bullpen. With injury attrition in the back of my mind and the possibility of Will Smith being needed as an emergency starter, the Royals needed another southpaw in the pen. Over the course of Rzepczynski's career, he's held LHB to a .221/.299/.307 triple-slash, allowing a .276 wOBA and maintaining a 90:30 K/BB over the 85.2 IP he's totaled against like-handed hitters.
Free Agent Signings Four, Five, Six, and Seven
- The Royals sign Mitch Maier to a minor-league deal.
- The Royals sign Brandon Inge to a minor-league deal with an player option for Inge to declare himself a free agent if he isn't on the 25-man roster by June 1st.
- The Royals sign Jesus Flores to a minor-league deal.
- The Royals sign Kyle McClellan to a minor-league deal.
I don't need to explain why MITCH! is back. Inge is insurance in case Chris Johnson suffers an injury. Jesus Flores is so I don't have to trade DeAndre Toney or Kevin Chapman
for Humberto Quintero
when Pina and Perez both go down in the same week of Spring Training again. Kyle McClellan comes in on a minor-league deal as he recovers from shoulder surgery. Enough said?
I was trying to poach free agent relievers at the last minute on cheap deals. It wasn't working. I'd been talking off and on with the 'Stros co-Luhnows about Wesley Wright for a few days. I was really hoping I could get them to take on Bruce Chen's contract because it's sort of wasted money. Wright, another lefty, is set to make $900K through arbitration. He is a Super-Two and is under club control through 2016. On Wright's career, he's averaged over a strikeout an inning, and he's limited opposing lefties to a .245 wOBA. He's coming off a strong 2012 campaign in which he threw 52.1 innings over 77 appearances with a 3.27 ERA, 3.34 FIP, 3.30 xFIP, and 2.83 SIERA with a 3.18 K/BB and 9.29 K/9.
Where the Royals stand as of the end of the sim
By my calculations with $1.0MM total allotted to two pitchers at league minimum that are currently holding the places of Duffy and Paulino, and factoring their contracts into the mix as well, the Royals have committed $70.6MM of their roughly $75MM payroll. Leaving me with $3.8MM to spend. Glass has assured me that he's willing to pony up the $2.0MM if Dempster reaches 150 IP under the condition that he receives ownership of my soul if this backfires. I also shed the salary of Jeff Francoeur, and fully intend to call up Wil Myers
as soon as his service time is gamed enough to have 2013 not count as a full season. Don't get used to that rangy outfield you'll see in Kansas City for the first three weeks of the season as two center fielders get to play. Given the respective added presences of Ryan Dempster, Bud Norris, and Jake Westbrook, the lack of options remaining for Luis Mendoza, and the money committed to Bruce Chen, it will not be hard to justify keeping Jake Odorizzi and Trevor Bauer down in the minors until mid-May, at which point the combined time they spent having their cups of coffee in the Bigs last year and the service time they'll accrue in 2013 will combine to being less than 171 days (or whatever that number is) that would qualify as a full year of service time, thusly staving off free agency by a year for each player while assuring them Super-Two status so as to not upset their delicate sensibilities.