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Shaun's SB Nation GM Sim: Miami Marlins

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Anything that isn't nailed down...

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

First off...shout out to Max for running this thing. He showed true plus grit in handling all 30 of us, brokering deals, and keeping the spreadsheet(s) up to date.

So this year I had the Miami Marlins. I've previously done the Nationals which I think I didn't a meh job with. However this year I like what I did for the Marlins.

These are always fun to do because we can laugh at how far from reality things in this sim can get. When I chose the Marlins I knew that I was going to be the furthest from reality as a team probably. That's not a testament to me though. Instead it's a testament to how far from reality Jeff Loria is with his actual teams talent.

In 2015 the Marlins finished 20 games below .500 after trading for the guy who just lead baseball in steals and hits (Dee Gordon). If they don't make that trade there's a decent chance that this team is contending for last place in all of baseball instead of just 20 games below .500. Of course you could throw hypotheticals onto any team, but I think this teams talent level was pretty close to where they finished.

This Marlins team had only three hitters qualify for the batting title. They gave Ichiro Suzuki 438 plate appearances and they let him pitch. They signed Michael Morse to a two year deal then traded him three months later. Brad Hand had the 4th most innings pitched for the team and he had a 5.30 ERA.

This team is an absolute mess. What's even worse for a bad team is their farm system isn't any better. Their best prospect (Tyler Kolek) most likely outcome is a 7th/8th inning reliever. They had the 12th overall pick in 2015 and instead of taking a guy ranked in that area, they took one who was ranked 28th by FanGraphs, 52nd by Scout , 61st by Baseball America, 75th by Baseball Prospectus, and didn't even get an honorable mention by ESPN (Josh Naylor). Naylor by the way is a Canadian High School first baseman who is 6'0" and likely 235 pounds, well out of shape. Also Naylor is very poor at first base who is going to have to rely 100% on his bat.

It's not all doom and gloom though for the Marlins despite their MLB and MiLB woes. They've got two star players in Jose Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton as well as several good pieces in Dee Gordon, AJ Ramos, Carter Capps, and Marcell Ozuna.

You have to ask yourself when you step in the shoes of the Marlins GM: Can this team compete in 2016, 2017, or maybe 2018? My answer was unequivocally no. What's even worse is that some of their key players in 2015/2016 are going to be gone by 2017/2018.

This squad was just a mess, so I did what I think real life Michael Hill should do: tear it down.

Trade #1

Marlins trade

Jose Fernandez

Red Sox trade

Yoan Moncada

Clint Frazier

Michael Chavis

Austin Rei

Edwin Escobar

Fernandez was my #1 trade piece with a bullet. If I was going to do anything this simulation ti was going to be to trade Jose Fernandez.

Of course with him being young, extremely talented. and under team control for the next three years I got plenty of offers. Some a little low ball, others right within reason. Ultimately it came down to two teams bidding for him and in the end I took the package that had my #1, #2, or #3 overall prospect in baseball Yoan Moncada. Moncada is easily a top 10 prospect and he's only played 81 games in A ball. He just smashed the Latin signing bonus record (money that by the way the Marlins won't have to pay any of) and has extreme tools across the board.

Boston had also acquired Clint Frazier from the Indians in a Carlos Carrasco trade. Before we agreed on the above package we kicked around some other names for the second piece, but once Bryan (the Red Sox GM) said he'd give us Frazier I jumped immediately.

Chavis isn't Moncada/Frazier but he's still a decent prospect who will likely stay at third base and has plus power/arm. Rei is an all glove catching prospect at the moment, while Edwin Escobar is a little more than a throw in as he's a lefty with decent stuff who has played in AAA/MLB.

Trade #2

Marlins trade

Dee Gordon

Adeiny Hechavarria

Kyle Barraclough

Adam Conley

Nationals trade

Jayson Werth

Johnathan Papelbon

Yunel Escobar

Lucas Giolito

Trea Turner

$5,000,000

I wrote a bit about this trade over on Josh Ward's post at the Nationals SB Nation site Federal Baseball and I'll rehash it here:

The Diamondbacks traded Touki Toussaint for basically cash in Bronson Arroyo. It cost the Braves basically $10M to acquire Toussaint. Toussaint isn’t Giolito of course but he’s not dead weight and is worth $10M on the open market.

In this sim it costs the Marlins $60M to acquire Giolito/Turner. A team wouldn’t give Giolito/Turner $60M right now if he were a free agent. In reality of course it’s $60M – whatever value Werth/Escobar/Papelbon put up in 2016/2017 but it’s not like they were shining stars and a lock to make that money. It’s also not entirely crazy to write all of that off as a sunk cost.

I wouldn’t have done this trade personally if I were the Nats GM, but he got rid of $60M in obligations (which could all be a sunk cost) and two very good prospects. I wasn’t just going to take his dead weight for Jakson Reetz or Clint Robinson. $60M is almost the entire Marlins 2015 payroll.

Meanwhile the Nats got Dee Gordon, Hechevarria, Barraclough (who was better than Papelbon in 2015 at 1/20th the price) and Adam Conley (who was worth more than Werth and Papelbon combined at like 1/50th the price. Conley had similar value as Joe Ross in 2015.

I think the deal was slanted to the Marlins side as it just cost us $60M to get Giolito/Turner but we also gave up 2-3 wins in Gordon (~$20M in value), a win in Hech (~$8M), and a win or so in Conley + Barraclough (~$8M).

As you can tell with the trade I basically said I'll pay ~$60M for Lucas Giolito and Trea Turner. If I get some production out of Werth/Papelbon/Escobar then fine, but all I cared about was Giolito and Turner.

Giolito is arguably the best pitching prospect in baseball. Turner is among the best shortstop prospects in baseball and is MLB ready.

It hurt a bit to give up Barraclough and Conley but I'm willing to expend two relievers to bring in those two guys.

What I also cared about is that Werth/Papelbon/Escobar weren't long term contracts really.

Papelbon and Escobar are gone after 2016 and Werth after 2017. By the time Giolito and Turner are getting their feet fully wet in the major leagues all three of these guys will be gone.

Trade #3

Marlins trade

Christian Yelich

Padres trade

Melvin Upton

Hunter Renfroe

Michael Gettys

Erik Fedde

Taylor Lindsey

Ryan Butler

Originally I think this deal was just Yelich for Renfroe, Gettys, and someone else. Then Tyler (the Padres GM) asked if I'd be willing to take Melvin Upton as a salary dump and he'd compensate me for it with Fedde, Lindsey, and Butler (if I recall correctly). While I wasn't happy to have Upton and the $30M attached to him, it was worth it to me to get Fedde, Lindsey, and Butler. Also I didn't want to possibly blow the Yelich deal either.

If you know the prospects I like, you know that I love Hunter Renfroe. The guy has a laser for an arm and a batting practice video that will make you change your pants afterwards.

In my 2014 draft articles I compared Gettys to Mike Trout, but in size/body only really. Gettys is a four tool player with already plus speed, power, arm, and fielding. The major thing holding him back (and it does hold him back) is his aggressiveness at the plate and a hit tool that projects to be below average at this point. Still I was happy to take a chance on him.

Fedde was coincidentally acquired by the Padres from the Nationals (who I just got Giolito/Turner from) in a trade featuring Stephen Strasburg. He of course isn't Giolito. The only real similarity they share are that they are both right handed, drafted by the Nats, and had Tommy John Surgery after being drafted. In talent though Fedde is more of a ceiling of a #2/3.

Lindsey was once a decent name and the #1 prospect in the Angels system (a statement about their system, not Lindsey) who had fallen from grace. I needed a second baseman after trading Gordon and Lindsey was the closest thing the Padres had. He has a good walk rate, doesn't strike out, an average or so hit tool, and can play second. He's not the Marlins future 2B for the next 6 years but he's an okay option to give a chance to as the team tanks for the next few years. Here's hoping Yoan Moncada won't take too long.

Ryan Butler is likely a reliever and was a throw in piece. He's had Tommy John in the past but his fastball can hit 100 MPH, he's got decent control, and is close the a major leagues.

Truthfully I thought I'd have more suitors for Yelich but it only came down to a few teams (two or three I think) that were serious bidders.

Trade #4

Marlins trade

Marcell Ozuna

Oakland trades

Renato Nunez

Raul Alcantara

RJ Alvarez

Maybe I overestimated my market on Ozuna. I don't of course see him as a star but I thought "Hey, here's a 25 year old with a 2 win projection in 2016 who was worth almost 4 wins in 2014." I wasn't expecting to get a top five prospect for him, but I figured I could get a top 50-75 prospect for him from some org who needed outfield help.

I of course was wrong and the market for Ozuna just never really appeared. I thought about waiting it out a bit as teams get a bit desperate to fill an outfield hole but ultimately I just took the best deal available at the time and traded him to Oakland.

Nunez isn't a nobody. MLB.com has him as the 10th best third base prospect and he's somewhere in the A's 4-6th best prospect range. There isn't a non-zero chance he stays at 3B but needs improvements or else he'll be moved to the outfield. The calling card is of course his plus raw power and his strong arm. There were concerns his 2014 numbers were just a product of the Cal League but upon demotion to AA he hit even better and is only 21 years old. Also his strikeout rate has improved at each level and he's continued to hit for power.

Alcantara had Tommy John in 2014 but returned for a bit in 2015. Not a sexy profile at all but a mid-90's fastball with an average or better changeup. He's got excellent control and profiles as either a #4/5 starter or in relief somewhere.

Alvarez is 100% a reliever. He's got a fastball that touches 98 MPH and an above average slider. However he has poor command and struggled in his brief appearance for the A's.

Trade #5

Marlins trade

Carter Capps

Michael Mader

Cubs trade

Donnie Dewees

I thought the market for Capps would be a little better too given his young age and excellent 2015. However clubs were scared away by his odd throwing mechanics and injury risk. Ultimately I had to package him with Mader to get the kind of prospect I wanted.

Dewees was the Cubs second round pick in the 2015 draft and was ranked in the 25-30 range of a few draft boards. Dewees was a no-name really before his monster season in the Cape Cod league before leading Div I college baseball in hits and slugging percentage his junior year. Dewees is proving himself capable of staying in centerfield but has a very poor arm. Offensively he's got a potential plus hit tool with average power and plus speed currently. If you squint hard enough, Brett Gardner could be the outcome.

Trade #6

Marlins trade

Martin Prado

Blue Jays trade

Connor Greene

Carl Wise

$500,000

Prado was a bit of a salary dump on my end but he isn't all money no value like say Ryan Howard. Prado was projected for something like two wins in 2016 and can play most of the infield and outfield while not being that expensive.

There was some interest in Prado but ultimately the Blue Jays offered the best package and were also the strongest suitor in general.

Greene took a big step forward in 2015. He went from being really in the Jays top 20-30 range to now being in conversation for the top 100 prospects in all of baseball thanks to a boost in velocity and changeup.

Wise is a guy I like for his size and power. He may not stay at 3B or hit for a high average, but I like him as more than just a throw in.

Trade #7

Marlins trade

AJ Ramos

Mets trade

Matt Reynolds

Champ Stuart

This one came kinda late in the sim as I forget I still had Ramos truthfully. I was holding him out for another potential trade I was expecting to go through and I took him off my spreadsheet.

Reynolds might be able to play SS but ultimately could end up at second as well. There little power but a good hit tool. The Mets kinda saw something in him they obviously liked as they added him to their NLDS roster though he didn't play. It's probably a utility ceiling or so but I'm happy to have a young guy who can hit a bit and play the middle infield.

Stuart has one stand out tool: 80 grade speed. He's extremely fast and can play the outfield well. He can't really hit but is interesting enough to have in your organization.

Transactions

Non-tenders:

Aaron Crow

Chris Narveson

Donovan Solano

This was a bit of a salary dump but also trimming some of the roster for the incoming players.

Aaron Crow just had Tommy John and might never pitch in the major leagues again given his back-to-back poor years out of the Royals/Marlins bullpens. He was projected to make $2M in arbitration.

Narveson might have made the cut if he were a little younger but at age 34 and a not so great 2015 I didn't want to tender him a contract despite needing some bullpen help. He was projected to make $900K in arbitration.

Donovan Solano was miserable in 2015 and I wanted to give playing time to other guys. He was projected to make $800K in arbitration.

Signed:

Anthony Bass to a minor league deal

Ross Detwiler to a minor league deal

Alexi Ogando - two year deal: 2016 $520K, 2017 $1.5M club option and $100K buyout

The first two guys the name doesn't matter. I literally emailed Max and said whoever the first two pitchers are that are willing to play for the league minimum, we'll take them. I'm assuming Max picked two guys who had little to no interest from other clubs. These two will either fill in in the bullpen or rotation when need be.

Ogando I paid a bit for his old name value but was willing to give him a shot in the bullpen for a what's likely to be miserable 2016 team. The 2017 club option was an enticement to sign (though I don't think he likely had that many other offers) and worse case is I'd pay him a total of $620K. Best case is he returns to 2012-2013 Ogando and I could trade him to another team at the deadline while holding a cheap club option for the next year.

So that's it. Really quite on the signing front but of course heavy on the trade front.

My other goal this simulation was to trade Giancarlo Stanton but unfortunately it's 2015 and clubs are still giving players no trade agreements. His contract is insane. Not only does it have an opt out clause in 2020 but the marlins can't trade him either. So come 2020 when he almost certainly opts out, Miami will get nothing out of him in the future except a qualifying offer (if that's still around).

I had some very interesting offers for him too. Packages that included Byron Buxton, Brady Aiken, Aaron Judge, and other teams top prospect(s). Originally the Red Sox and I had discussions about a package Stanton/Fernandez deal.

So I think I accomplished my objective of tearing the team down and boosting the farm system. I didn't trade really any long term assets or prospects and got a haul of elite, very good, and good prospects for a team that won't compete for several years from now.

Pos Player 2016 2017 2018
C JT Realmuto $                  510,000.00 $        510,000.00 $          510,000.00
C Tomas Telis $                  510,000.00 $        510,000.00 $          510,000.00
1B Justin Bour $                  510,000.00 $        510,000.00 $          510,000.00
2B Taylor Lindsey $                  510,000.00 $        510,000.00 $          510,000.00
SS Yunel Escobar $               7,000,000.00 $                       - $                        -
3B Scott Sizemore $                  510,000.00
IF Derek Dietrich $                  510,000.00 $        510,000.00 $          510,000.00
IF Jordany Valdespin $                  510,000.00 $        510,000.00 $          510,000.00
OF Giancarlo Stanton $               9,000,000.00 $   14,500,000.00 $     25,000,000.00
OF Jayson Werth $             21,000,000.00 $   21,000,000.00 $                        -
OF Melvin Upton $             15,050,000.00 $   16,450,000.00 $                        -
OF Ichiro Suzuki $               2,000,000.00 $     2,000,000.00 $                        -
SP Henderson Alvarez $               4,000,000.00 $     5,000,000.00 $                        -
SP Jarred Cosart $                  510,000.00 $        510,000.00
SP Tom Koehler $               3,900,000.00 $     4,000,000.00 $       5,000,000.00
SP Justin Nicolino $                  510,000.00 $        510,000.00
SP Ross Detwiler $                  510,000.00 $        510,000.00
RP David Phelps $               2,500,000.00 $     3,000,000.00
RP AJ Ramos $               2,800,000.00 $     3,000,000.00 $       4,000,000.00
RP Bryan Morris $               1,100,000.00 $     1,500,000.00
RP Mike Dunn $               3,450,000.00 $                       - $                        -
RP Brad Hand $                  510,000.00 $        510,000.00
RP Jose Urena $                  510,000.00 $        510,000.00
RP Alexi Ogando $                  510,000.00 $        100,000.00
RP John Papelbon $             11,000,000.00 $                       -
Other Jarrod Saltalamacchia $               8,000,000.00
Prado money Prado $               7,500,000.00 z
Wash deal Money $              (5,000,000.00)
$             99,932,016.00 $   76,162,017.00 $     37,062,018.00

For 2016 I did spend over my budget by about $25M, however in 2017 it drops down back down and in 2018 future commitments are cut in half. Stanton becomes almost 70% of my future payroll obligations. Man that contract just keeps giving and giving for Miami.

Prospects acquired

Here's where I "made my money" in this simulation, picking up a haul of several top 100 prospects. All rankings are per MLB.com.

Acquired Natl Original Team Rank
Lucas Giolito #3 #1
Yoan Moncada #8 #1
Trea Turner #11 #2
Clint Frazier #35 #2
Tyler Kolek #52 #1
Hunter Renfroe #72 #2
Connor Greene N/A #4
Erick Fedde N/A #5
Renato Nunez N/A #6
Matt Reynolds N/A #7
Donnie Dewees N/A #8
Michael Chavis N/A #8
Michael Gettys N/A #10
Ryan Butler N/A #13
Raul Alcantara N/A #14
Austin Rei N/A #15
Carl Wise N/A #20
Edwin Escobar N/A #23
RJ Alvarez N/A #24
Champ Stewart N/A #29

The national list isn't the "official" list for 2016 either, just an updated one for now. Greene, Fedde, and Nunez all could be top 100 prospects this winter. Meanwhile we got some depth on some lottery players and 45 OFP guys who could break into the 50 OFP bracket.

I'm not sure if this is the number one system in baseball but it's got to be close.

This past winter the Cubs were rated the top system by Baseball Prospectus and featured seven players in their top 101. The above list has six players rather than seven, but features three of the basically top ten players, including what I think are both the best hitting and pitching prospect in baseball (Moncada/Giolito).