Been embroiled all day in negotiations with fellow owners in Day 1 of the SB Nation offseason simulation. If I might say so myself, I think we did really well. We’ve put bids out on several free agents and completed four trades.
Kolby Allard and Travis Demeritte from the Atlanta Braves for Jace Fry
The first move cost us our most substantial bullpen piece, but for a fantastic haul. Allard is ranked No. 100 in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100. The southpaw was a first-round pick in 2015, and reached the majors at the end of the last year for the Braves. He could be our fifth starter in 2019, at age 21. From MLB:
The 6-foot-1 southpaw thrives with a three-pitch mix that starts with outstanding fastball command. He throws his heater in the 88-93 mph range, but it plays up because of its movement and because of Allard’s ability to move it in and out with ease. That can occasionally get him into trouble, as he falls in love with his fastball command and pitches off of his fastball too much. His changeup, once his third offering, is now a plus pitch and Allard would often fall into a fastball-changeup pattern. That’s something that isn’t necessary, given he still possesses a plus curve. While his walk rate jumped in 2017, he still is very much a strike-thrower.
In addition, we got Demeritte, a 2013 first-rounder (Texas Rangers) who plays all over the field and is considered a defensive whiz. He moved to the outfield in 2018, but in 2017 split his time between second and third base. The six-foot righthander had 28 homers across two levels in 2016, and was named the Double-A Mississippi Braves Player of the Year in 2018.
Demeritte will likely open back at third base, for the Birmingham Barons. When acquired, Allard immediately slotted into our No. 5 rotation spot, but as you’ll see, other acquisitions might force him down to the Charlotte Knights to open 2019.
Trading Jace Fry was suggested by SSS readers as a “sell high” move, but nothing as specific as an Atlanta Braves deal. Frankly, I suggested snagging one of the Triple-A starters from Atlanta on a lark and didn’t think it would pan out. I actually didn’t ask for Allard, thinking there was no chance, but the ATL braintrust was sour on him. Our gain. Demeritte? Total bonus.
Rusney Castillo from the Boston Red Sox for Danny Dopico
This one has created some controversy, first in some teams wondering why we’re taking on a $12 million Triple-A player, others wondering why Boston made the salary dump when the figure still counts against its luxury tax number.
Anyway, this is a no-brainer. Yeah, taking on $25 million for the next two years is an Alex Riosian move. But Castillo should absolutely already be in the major leagues, held down simply because of Boston’s big, bad Bs outfield. He’s a Cuban native who should pair nicely with Yoán Moncada and José Abreu in our lineup. His 1.9 bWAR in 99 career games projects to 2.6 over 162. He’s also controlled for five years, in case he breaks out and becomes the star that the Red Sox signed him to be in 2014. I slate him for Opening Day center field.
The Rusney trade idea came from reader John, who responded to my call for SSSers to email me strategies, as well as our own Year of the Hamster.
Domingo Santana and Chase Anderson from the Milwaukee Brewers for Omar Narváez and Aaron Bummer
Holy crap. I’d given up on securing Santana, who played a full season in the majors in 2017 (30 homers, 85 RBIs, .875 OPS) but was held down in 2018 by the Lorenzo Cain signing and Christian Yelich trade. Milwaukee said it had a better deal in hand than what we were offering, so I gave up hoping for a young, controlled, explosive outfield of Eloy-Rusney-Domingo, when, BOOM, the Brewers were back. Of the “eating salary” options I was given, Anderson mysteriously made the list. We’re on the hook for one year and $6.5 million in 2019, and has a $500,000 buyout for 2020. But why the hell are we buying him out? Sure, 1.2 bWAR in 30 starts last year, a lotta dingers, but in 2017, 4.2 bWAR.
Fry was Milwaukee’s first choice — a very hot prospect on our end, which is pretty nuts — so Bummer became the replacement option. No harm there. Losing Narváez’s offense is an issue, sure, but I am trying to re-mold backstop as a two-way position, and Omar doesn’t fit. We’re selling high on him.
Santana will be our Opening Day right fielder, and Anderson our No. 4 starter.
The Domingo trade idea came from several readers, as well as Year of the Hamster. She might have found a way to intercept my email. As with Allard, “having” to take on Anderson was a nice bonus, one I was not expecting.
Kyle Gibson and Luke Raley from the Minnesota Twins for Avisaíl García and Jordan Guerrero
OK, with Santana in the fold, it was time to move Avi, who became an indulgence at $8 million. Surprisingly, it was the Twins who responded with vigor, and among a long list of available starters, what-in-the-hell Gibson (3.9 bWAR in 2018) was available. No-brainer.
Minny wanted a cusp-of-the-majors reliever, and in the war room Darren Jackson noted a) Guerrero is probably destined to relieve when and if he makes the majors, and b) he’s still unlikely to survive with us through another Rule 5 draft this winter.
I felt Guerrero was a bit too much of an evener here, so the Twins trotted out an AFL showcase guy as an add-in. I suggested a different AFL showcase guy, Luke Raley. Raley mashes pretty well, and has played both first base and the left field. His career minors OPS is .828. The former Los Angeles Dodgers draft pick seems to have some solid upside.
Gibson checks out as our No. 3 starter this season. Raley will start in Birmingham, and like Demeritte, stands a decent chance of a fast advance to Charlotte.
I’ve seen everything from trading Avi to extending him in our plans and the emails to me, but it seems his time with us is done. He needs to move on.
Many more deals in the hopper, including some free agents we should be adding soon. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s update!