I know you're probably just looking for a roster matrix, so here it is (explanations will follow):
- C: Derek Norris
- 1B: PRINCE FIELDER*
- 2B: BEN ZOBRIST**
- SS: JURICKSON PROFAR*
- 3B: Jedd Gyorko (vs. L) / Yangervis Solarte (vs. R)
- LF: Wil Myers
- CF: CHRISTIAN YELICH*
- RF: JORGE SOLER*
- 1B/DH/PH: KENNYS VARGAS* (B)
- OF: JUAN LAGARES* (R)
- 3B Platoon/IF: Solarte (B) / Gyorko (R)
- IF/OF: Alexi Amarista (L)
- C: BRAYAN PEÑA** (B)
- YELICH* (L)
- PROFAR* (B)
- ZOBRIST* (B)
- Myers (R)
- PRINCE* (L)
- SOLER* (R)
- Norris (R)
- Gyorko (R) / Solarte (B)
- STEPHEN STRASBURG*
- James Shields
- Andrew Cashner
- JON NIESE* (L)
- Robbie Erlin (L) / ROGERS* (L) / ERIC JOKISCH* (L)
- TONY WATSON* (L)
- Michael Dimock
- Nick Vincent
- Brandon Maurer
- AKEEL MORRIS*
- JONATHAN BROXTON**
- JOKISCH* (L)
- Marcos Mateo
- Leonel Campos
- Tayron Guerrero
- Frank Garces (L)
- Odrisamer Despainge
- Erlin (L)
- Justin Hancock
- Elliott Morris
- Cory Mazzoni
- Jay Jackson
- Jon Edwards
- TAYLOR ROGERS* (L)
- KIRBY YATES*
- Corey Luebke** (L)
- Rymer Liriano
- ARISMENDY ALCANTARA* (Not technically a prospect anymore.)
- AUSTIN VOTH*
- T. ROGERS*
- Ruddy Giron
- Dinelson Lamet
- Logan Allen
- Fernando Perez
- Brad Wieck
- Franchy Cordero
- Nick Torres
- Rafael De Paula
- Austin Adams
Acquisitions in caps.
In the spirit of AJ Preller's slightly obnoxious (and ultimately unsuccessful) inaugural offseason as Padres GM last year, I made as many trades and signings as I could in an effort to make the Padres a contender—even if it meant making the team somewhat unstable going forward. The real life Preller is apparently tearing the whole thing down this year, so...here's your alternate universe.
I tried to build a team that could compete in 2016 and not completely fall apart thereafter. Here goes:
The Strasburg trade worked out pretty well. Stras came home to San Diego, a few prospects came back our way, and Kimbrel's big contract was moved. It was a lot for a one-year rental. The QO draft pick makes him a little more interesting, though.
Fielder is being subsidized by both Detroit and Texas, only costing the Shadow Pads $16M per year for the remainder of his deal. He'll still probably underperform, but the gap between his compensation and production will be much more palatable with a couple of AL teams paying a third of the bill; and besides, he posted a .360 wOBA last year—so did Jose Abreu, btw.
I sold out to get Yelich—I don't see him being traded anytime soon in real life, but this obviously isn't real life. He's on a great contract (totaling less than $60M over the next 6 years) through 2021 with a team option for 2022. He's probably more valuable in left, but Lagares could spell him so he could play there (with Myers moving to first and Fielder to the bench) in late inning lead situations.
Trading Kemp opened up the Zobrist signing and the Soler deal. I didn't necessarily want Niese or Lagares, and I definitely didn't want to trade Ross, but the net outcome was a better team, in my opinion.
I swapped Benoit and his salary for Vargas (who I think could be a great switch-hitting bench bat, maybe more) and Taylor Rogers (who has a pretty nice résumé, look him up). After getting Vargas, I needed to move Alonso—and his rising arbitration salary didn't help his case to stay. Niese, Rogers, and Jokisch could take care of the back end of the rotation in this scenario. Although it was tempting to keep Ross and have four excellent starters, salary and control ultimately led me to favor the Soler deal.
That Zobrist deal is absurd.
But what can you do? If Alcantara hadn't been exposed last year, Zobrist wouldn't have been considered, but with Strasburg on a one-year deal and Kemp coming off the books I decided to throw caution to the wind. The real Zobrist might not get a deal half that good, but I suppose markets are exaggerated when the money isn't real.
I have a soft spot in my heart for Brayan Peña and he's proven to be a pretty decent backup catcher. I figured Broxton was worth near the league minimum if he can eat some innings in an unproven pen without single-handedly losing several games on his own. Brought Luebke back on an MiLB deal.
Yes, the farm is barren. However, getting Soler and Yelich on cost-controlled deals, and landing Profar at a huge discount just as he returns to health provides this pretend team with an exceptional core of young players that most teams can only have prospect-dependent dreams about. (Yes, that's a link to Scott McKinney's prospect failure rate story. It's very good and was influential in my imaginary decisions.)
Rymer Liriano remains, and although he's not a "prospect" anymore, Arismendy Alcantara is a very promising minor leaguer—he'd start the year there getting reps at third and working on his approach at the plate. Liriano came up a lot in trade talks, but it didn't feel like anyone was willing to pay for his upside. He might need a little more seasoning, maybe not; but he's probably going to get it in this universe with Myers, Yelich, and Soler ahead of him.
It actually wasn't that hard to trade Hedges, Renfroe, Gettys, Fedde, Nix, Rea, Rondon, and most of the other top prospects considering the returns. I know that kind of anti-fire sale doesn't happen often, but I wanted to invest in more proven, but still controllable young players. No prospect-clutching here!
Akeel Morris might be a relief prospect, but his K numbers are gaudy and he debuted in the majors last year—although he probably still needs some time in the minors to develop into a potential closer.
Voth, Jokisch, and Rogers should all be pretty safe bets to make it to the majors and contribute in some fashion. There're some decent relievers and middle infielders in the system, but the farm is not so good.
Probably not as bad as it looks, but far from good.
The suggested payroll in the sim was $111M. I ended up at $120M—but if an owner couldn't get excited enough about Strasburg, Zobrist, Yelich, Soler, & Profar to increase the projected budget by 8%, then that person probably shouldn't own a baseball team.
I would've been right on target had my original Kemp trade not fallen through. I ended up having to take on Lagares and Niese, but a salary swap could've gone much worse—especially since Akeel Morris was involved. And of course, the absurd (ABSURD!) Zobrist deal wouldn't have been feasible without moving Kemp.
Strasburg, Cashner, and Niese might all be gone after the season and a few other guys will get more expensive, but the core position players should be in place for a while, and there should be enough room in the 2017 budget to add a starter (plus guys like Voth, Jokisch, and Rogers could help fill out the back end nicely).
Didn't put much thought into the lineup order. You could swap Myers and Soler, depending on your opinion of them, or you could drop Profar behind Soler if you like. Whatever. Profar can still be a good player despite the injuries, of course. He's only 22. He should be a solid defender at the very least, which is why I decided taking on Fielder was worth the swap for Hedges—who probably profiles as a solid defender as well, but with much less upside than Profar. He might have to start the year in the minors until he's back to full strength defensively. If he continues to struggle with injuries, Alcantara can also play short.
That's a pretty good sequence of hitters one through seven no matter home you arrange them, and that Gyorko/Solarte platoon works well on paper (Gyorko has hit .282/.358/.445 with a 126 wRC+ vs. LHPs last year & Solarte had a line of .278/.328/.443 with a 116 wRC+ against righties in 2015).
Lineups change—unless you're Ned Yost. I think this group is very flexible and has the right collective skill set to thrive in a bigger ballpark for the most part.
Vargas, Lagares, and Peña should make the pretend bench pretty useful. Lagares gets expensive in a few years, so that would need to be addressed, but for now he'd be a great defensive sub—with Yelich sliding over to left (where he's best defensively), Soler's arm staying in RF, and Myers spelling Fielder at first. That could also work as a lineup for interleague games or Vargas could DH. Either way.
I didn't want to trade Ross or the prospects I moved in the Soler trade, but building a young, controllable core of position players was important to me, and Ross was already at $10M+ in arbitration with one more panel to go. The rotation will be in trouble in 2017 with Strasburg, Cashner, & maybe Niese hitting free agency, and Shields turning 35.
However, both Cashner and Strasburg should return QO draft picks, and there's a decent chance Voth, Jokisch, and/or Rogers could help fill out the back of the rotation in the future. And who knows, maybe Robbie Erlin or Odrisamer Despaigne can carve out a spot.
The 2016 group looks pretty solid if they can stay healthy.
The pen is kind of a mess, but it felt like relief pitching was a seller's market thanks to the Royals success. Watson was a throw-in in the Profar deal, but his numbers indicate that he could be a decent closer if given the chance.
If not, the leftovers from the real pen (Vincent, Maurer, etc.) could mix with Broxton (ugh, I know), some of the young starters acquired in trades (Taylor Rogers dominates lefties), and young guys in the system (like Tayron, Mazzoni, Campos, etc.) to form a decent group to choose from. Another guy with great numbers is Michael Dimock. He might have an outside shot at making some noise in real life for the Genuine Padres next season. He'd certainly be given the chance for the Shadow Pads.
BATS & GLOVES
The uncertainty for the future on the pitching side is a direct result of an effort to secure long-term answers with regard to position players.
Yelich and Soler commanded big returns, but paired with Myers, they might be the best combo of young outfielders in the game. The infield is pretty much set for the next few years unless Alcantara can learn to play third. Zobrist could move over eventually as well. Gyorko and Solarte form a pretty nice platoon at third for the time being.
The defense probably won't remind anyone of the Royals, but it should be pretend-good enough to be a positive and flexible enough to be well above average in late-inning lead situations.
Profar, Soler, Yelich, Myers, and Alcantara could experience growing pains—which would suck for Strasburg, but the core would remain together for several years with a nice peppering off veterans (Fielder, Shields, Zobrist, etc.) to lead the way.
Thanks for reading this, if you somehow got through the whole thing. Being fake AJ Preller was fun. Hope this didn't make you wanna fake root for another pretend team.
And thanks especially to Max, Rob, and the other GMs.