What if teams were able to steal any five players from another organization?
That is the question that Matt Goldman, a writer for MLB Daily Dish and Beyond the Box Score, posed for an offseason simulation that took place this past weekend.
Of course, there is more to it than just "take any five players you want," because if that was the case, everyone would choose Bryce Harper, and there are not 29 Bryce Harpers available. Instead, any player picked by more than one team would remain with their original team. Teams had to strategize in this context. In addition, there were these set ground rules:
I took part in this sim as the Rockies and after consultation with the rest of the Purple Row staff put together what I think is a solid list of five players to claim. Goldman has an excellent review of the results of the sim league-wide at Beyond the Box Score, which I highly recommend reading, but here is a look at how things worked out for the Rockies.
★ ★ ★
In terms of raw numbers, the Rockies came out even, gaining three players and losing three players. First, a look at who the Rockies picked up in the sim.
When compiling a list of players to pick up for the Rockies, the priority was mainly to add young pitchers, and I also wanted a power-hitting first baseman, preferably from the right side of the plate. With those two things in mind, here is the list of five players submitted by the Rockies for the sim:
First, a look at the three players the Rockies were successful in adding through this sim:
It is fairly well-known that the Rockies were strong contenders for Abreu when he defected from Cuba in 2013, narrowly losing out to the White Sox, who signed Abreu to a six-year, $68 million deal. The Rockies still need a slugging first baseman, so Abreu, who has hit .303/.364/.540 with 66 home runs in his first two big league seasons, seemed a natural fit.
Another player the Rockies have been rumored to be in the mix for, Gausman, a Colorado native, has a 4.21 ERA and 1.28 WHIP with 240 strikeouts in 273⅓ innings in his big league career. At just 24 years old, he also fits in nicely with the wave of young pitching the Rockies have been developing.
Honestly, I thought it would be a long shot to get Giolito, so it was a pleasant surprise that no one else picked him. Just this week, Giolito was rated as the No. 3 prospect overall, and top pitching prospect in all of baseball by MLB.com. The 16th overall pick in the 2012 draft, Giolito posted a 3.15 ERA and 1.28 WHIP with 131 strikeouts in 117 innings between High-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg in 2015, his age 20 season.
Now, for the two players I missed out on:
This was a case of me shooting for the moon and hoping that teams would not be lookig for a first baseman and/or overlook Goldschmidt playing in Arizona. Unfortunately, Cleveland also claimed Goldschmidt, so he stayed in Arizona.
Given the plethora of strong pitchers for the Mets, I figured Matz may slip through the cracks, and that it would be nice to add a southpaw to the rotation. The Twins had the same idea, however, so Matz stayed in the Big Apple. It turned out that the Mets pitcher to slip through the cracks was Noah Syndergaard, who went unclaimed.
Unfortunately, in addition to adding three talented players, the Rockies also said goodbye to a trio of players in this sim. The only player selected from the Rockies major league roster was its newest addition, as the Twins selected reliever Jake McGee. Interestingly, the Rockies would have been in a similar spot prior to acquiring McGee, as the Nationals successfully claimed Corey Dickerson.
In addition to losing McGee from the major league roster, the Rockies lost a pair of prospects, both to the Cubs, who successfully claimed both Brendan Rodgers and David Dahl. I was not all that surprised to see Rodgers claimed, but did not expect to see Dahl taken given the glut of prospect outfielders in baseball currently.
In the end, I think the Rockies came out ahead in this sim as that rotation of Gausman, Giolito, Gray and Hoffman in 2017 or 2018 looks, well, like the one we saw in New York in 2015. Having three successful picks was in line with league average, as 92 of the 150 claims league-wide were successful. There is talk of running the sim again now that we have seen the initial result, so look for an update in the next couple of weeks on that.
And, in case you were wondering, not a single team claimed the one Bryce Harper available, the result of overthinking it. Who would you try to claim given the parameters above?