In retrospect, I think I went rather overboard on the trades in 2019. I traded away Wade Davis, Yonathan Daza, Peter Lambert, Jake McGee, Daniel Murphy, Helcris Olivarez, Riley Pint, Brendan Rodgers, Antonio Senzatela, Raimel Tapia, Jesús Tinoco, Pat Valaika, Terrin Vavra, Ryan Vilade and Colton Welker.
Some of these players were indeed traded away by the real-life Rockies over the past year. Others were released from the organization. And guys like Senzatela and Tapia were very helpful to the team in 2020.
Who did we add to the major league roster? Through trades and free agent signings, the 2019 offseason simulation brought in Yonder Alonso, Harrison Bader, Dakota Hudson, John Gant, Omar Narváez, Ryne Stanek and Neil Walker.
Ultimately, I achieved my goal of shedding large, arguably bad contracts, but if our goal was to compete in 2020, the return received for further depleting an already poorly rated farm system likely did not move the needle—and quite possibly set the organization up for failure for years to come.
The 2020 event took place over a 48-hour period from Sunday, November 1 until Tuesday, November 3. As fake GM’s, we were allowed to pick up the offseason on the very first day with no regard for what the organization has actually done this offseason. For example, this would give me an opportunity to reverse the Rockies’ real-life decision to decline their option over Daniel Murphy (though I chose to go the same route as Jeff Bridich and company with this decision).
At the time of this writing, Roster-Resource projects a 2021 Opening Day payroll of $144,679,500 for the Rox. Sim Rockies owner Sim Dick Monfort gave me a budget of $159,000,000 to work with. As you’ll see, I probably overdid it on the spending, but I didn’t go crazy and hand out $200 million contracts or anything like that.
Let’s start with...
MLB Trade Rumors projects arbitration salaries every offseason, but they did things a bit differently in 2020 (“a bit different” being a severe understatement for this year, of course). Three different projections were made this year based on three separate methods. First, there’s a projection with statistics from the 60-game 2020 season. Second, there’s a projection to extrapolate 2020 stats to a 162-game season. And finally, there’s a projection for players who are not first-time arbitration-eligible that gives them 37% of the raise they would get in a 162-game season. In the simulation, we went with the second method of statistics extrapolated to 162 games.
I did not non-tender anyone, so here are the arbitration salaries for 2021:
- Jon Gray – $6.5 million
- Kyle Freeland – $5.5 million
- Antonio Senzatela – $4.9 million
- Mychal Givens – $4.3 million
- Ryan McMahon – $2.8 million
- David Dahl – $2.7 million
- Raimel Tapia – $2.6 million
- Carlos Estévez – $2.3 million
- Tony Wolters – $2.2 million
- Jairo Díaz – $1.2 million
- Chi Chi González – $1.2 million
We declined the option on Daniel Murphy.
Trades and Free Agent Signings
1. Nick Vincent signed to a minor league deal
The Rockies need bullpen help. They were one Yency Almonte 2.93 ERA performance away from having the worst bullpen ERA in baseball in 2020. There’s no such thing as a bad minor league deal (as long as we don’t rest all of our hopes on them). Vincent is 34 years old and has a 3.38 career ERA. His best days are quite possibly behind him and he collected 22 1⁄3 innings of 4.43 ERA ball in 2020. Vincent did have career-worst strikeout and home run rates in 2020, along with a career low in average fastball velocity. On the plus side, he throws plenty of strikes, walking fewer than three batters per nine innings.
2. Antonio Santos traded to the New York Yankees for Adam Ottavino and $4.5 million
Here’s the first move that has definite implications for the major league roster. The Yankees’ GM announced that Ottavino was on the trading block and I thought a reunion would be a grand idea. It was a rather poor rookie showing for Santos in 2020, but MLB Pipeline ranks him as the Rockies’ No. 27 prospect. Getting a proven reliever in return (along with some cash) made this a move worth making in my eyes.
3. Riley Pint traded to the St Louis Cardinals for Andre Pallante
We received some good (?) news on Pint a couple weeks ago when Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post relayed word from Rockies’ assistant general manager Zach Wilson that Pint is “still trying to grow into his body.” Pint was reportedly 6-foot-4 when he was drafted and is now 6-foot-7. I use the word “good” here because it still gives us some hope for Pint given all the news around him as of late seems to be about his command issues. As for me as GM, I think it’s time for a change of scenery and I connected with the Cardinals on a prospect swap for their No. 28 prospect, 22-year-old right-handed pitcher Andre Pallante.
The recap from Viva El Birdos indicated they like the change of scenery option for Pint as well.
4. Kolten Wong signed to a 2-year, $30 million deal
I wanted to bring in a decent free agent and you’ll see below that I made much bigger offers than this one. The Rockies’ infield is fairly crowded — Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story are locks on the left side, of course. Josh Fuentes had a promising 2020, while Ryan McMahon and Garrett Hampson certainly figure to remain factors. There’s also now-graduated prospect Brendan Rodgers, but we haven’t heard much about his health status. Wong isn’t a middle of the order bat, but he did just pick up his second Gold Glove Award and his third Fielding Bible Award for his elite play at second base. He’s also good for a double digit stolen base number and is solid in the on-base percentage department. I believe he makes a solid addition to the team, providing a consistent everyday player at the keystone, while Fuentes, McMahon and Hampson can factor in at first base, as backup middle infielders or even in the outfield, in Hampson’s case.
5. Justin Wilson signed to a 1-year, $1 million deal
I originally offered a minor league deal to 33-year-old left-handed reliever Wilson but was certainly willing to head to a major league deal at this price. Wilson has been pitching in the big leagues since 2012 and has had an ERA as high as the low-4.00’s only twice. In 2020, he had a 3.66 ERA in 23 games. Wilson has consistently struck out over a batter per inning and has always given up a remarkably low number of home runs. It’s not all sunshine as Wilson has struggled with walks. Since 2017, Wilson has allowed 96 free passes in 171 1⁄3 innings. They haven’t seemed to hurt him very often, but it’s something to keep in mind. At any rate, this is an affordable way to upgrade a bullpen that was one of the worst in the league in 2020.
6. Jared Hughes signed to a minor league deal
Hughes is now 35 and coming off a couple rough years after posting a 1.94 ERA with the Cincinnati Reds in 2018. His fastball velocity has fallen to a career low. He walked 14 batters in 22 1⁄3 innings in 2020, something that has rarely been an issue for him before. I’ll be honest with you — there’s always something that has drawn me to Hughes. If you follow him on Twitter, you’ll see he’s always showing a willingness to be open to analytics. Just seems like a cool dude. I wouldn’t go as far as to offer him a guaranteed contract, but I like having him around.
7. Michael Toglia and Ryan Vilade traded to the Kansas City Royals for Jorge Soler and $9 million
I wrote about acquiring Soler at the trade deadline in 2020 and still think he would be a significant addition to the lineup. In 2019, Soler produced a batting line of .265/.354/.569, with 48 home runs. To be fair, his numbers trended in the wrong direction in 2020 — a line of .228/.326/.443 and a strikeout rate that went from 26.2% to 34.5%. I very much wanted to include reliever Scott Barlow in this deal as well, but it appeared there was little I could do to move the needle for the Kansas City GM. Even with his poor 2020 line, Soler still produced a wRC+ of 108, thanks to park adjustments for pitcher-friendly Kauffman Stadium. It remains to be seen if the universal designated hitter will remain in the National League in 2020, though that would be an ideal spot in the lineup for Soler, as well as Charlie Blackmon. Both rate as similar defensive talents at this point in their respective careers, which is frankly not very high praise for either. Giving up Toglia (No. 3 prospect) and Vilade (No. 4 prospect) hurts, no doubt. I’m not sure what real life Monfort and Bridich are looking to do. Maybe they’ll hold on to these prospects and it will pay off in the long run. As for my reign as sim GM, we’re going for a World Series, baby.
8. Jeff Hoffman traded to the Atlanta Braves for Greyson Jenista
One thing I wanted to do was move on from players on the roster bubble who are out of options in exchange for lower-end prospects. For Hoffman, we picked up Jenista, a 23-year-old outfielder and the Braves’ No. 20 prospect.
9. Jesús Tinoco traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Jason Martinez
For Tinoco, we picked up Martinez, a 19-year-old right-handed pitcher and the D-Backs’ No. 25 prospect.
10. Jairo Díaz traded to the Los Angeles Angels for $300,000
I wasn’t able to get a player in return for Díaz, but I’ll take some cash.
11. David Dahl, Ben Bowden and Aaron Schunk traded to the Houston Astros for Framber Valdéz, Martín Maldonado and Bradley Zimmer
The Astros expressed interest in trading a starter and after discussions, we agreed to this. Valdéz was the key to this deal, of course. We saw him break out in 2020, particularly in the postseason. Zimmer (who the Astros acquired from the Cleveland Indians in a previous deal) works as somewhat of a replacement for Dahl and Maldonado was icing on the cake. The players going over to Houston hurt to lose, but once I realized I could get Valdéz, I just had to get something done here.
For what it’s worth, in the recap of the offseason simulation at Crawfish Boxes, they felt they overpaid for this deal.
12. Yonathan Daza, Chris McMahon and Sam Weatherly traded to the San Diego Padres for Zach Davies
While I was having discussions about Valdéz, I was also talking with San Diego about Davies. San Diego specifically mentioned an interest in McMahon and Weatherly, players who had not come up in my discussions with Houston. After proposing packages to both Houston and San Diego, I decided to just go ahead and do both. Adding Valdéz and Davies (2.73 ERA in 12 starts in 2020) significantly upgrades the Rockies’ rotation, further depleted farm system be damned. And they’re young starters too! Davies will turn 28 in February, while the lefty Valdéz will turn 27 later this month.
The Angels, Cardinals, Mets and Yankees checked in on Story. I made it clear that Story was essentially untouchable. St. Louis also expressed an interest in Arenado, but I didn’t have an interest in moving him.
The Indians checked in on Daniel Bard. The bullpen was not an area from which I felt comfortable dealing from.
Prior to the deals for Valdéz and Davies, I looked into getting Spencer Turnbull from the Detroit Tigers, but nothing materialized.
One of the very first discussions I had was rather extensive talks with the New York Mets, primarily surrounding Steven Matz, who has a track record but was incredibly bad in 2020. The Mets also offered J.D. Davis and expressed interest in Dahl, Hampson and Ashton Goudeau. You can blame me for being wary about Matz’s 2020 for not getting this done.
In free agency, I made initial offers to J.T. Realmuto (4 years, $73 million) and Kevin Gausman (2 years, $39 million) but was quickly outbid. I made multiple offers to Michael Brantley, eventually reaching 2 years, $35 million but was outbid. I also made multiple offers to Marcell Ozuna, eventually reaching 4 years, $94 million but was outbid.
I also offered one-year deals at $5 million or less to C.J. Cron, Sean Doolittle, Didi Gregorius, Mitch Moreland and Carlos Santana but was outbid.
Finally, I offered minor league deals to Brad Boxberger, Jackie Bradley Jr, Sandy León, Aaron Loup, Trevor May, Kevin Pillar, Robbie Ray, Jonathan Schoop, Brandon Workman, Kirby Yates and Mike Zunino but wasn’t able to land any of them. I was well aware that plenty of these players would not accept minor league offers, but I wasn’t interested in going any higher.
Where did players that did not sign with the Rockies go?
- Trevor Bauer – Padres – 6 years, $215 million
- J.T. Realmuto – Phillies – 6 years, $172 million
- George Springer – Indians – 6 years, $170 million
- Marcus Stroman – Mets – 6 years, $102 million
- Marcell Ozuna – Marlins – 4 years, $100 million
- Ha-Seong Kim – Giants – 7 years, $90 million
- Kevin Gausman – Giants – 5 years, $80 million
- Marcus Semien – Mets – 4 years, $56 million
- Michael Brantley – Astros – 3 years, $50 million
- Liam Hendriks – Phillies – 3 years, $37.5 million
- Jackie Bradley, Jr. – Cubs – 3 years, $36 million
- Andrelton Simmons – Reds – 3 years, $34 million
- James McCann – Astros – 4 years, $30 million
- Trevor Rosenthal – Blue Jays – 2 years, $28 million
- Didi Gregorius – Brewers – 2 years, $24 million
- Masahiro Tanaka – Cubs – 2 years, $21 million
- Yadier Molina – Cardinals – 2 years, $18 million
- Jake Odorizzi – Twins – 2 years, $18 million
- Robbie Ray – Astros – 2 years, $18 million
- Justin Turner – Cubs – 2 years, $18 million
- Kirby Yates – Mets – 2 years, $18 million
- Trevor May – Athletics – 2 years, $14 million + $8.5 million club option
- DJ LeMahieu – Yankees – accepted 1 year, $18.9 million qualifying offer
- Carlos Santana – Indians – 1 year, $7 million
- C.J. Cron – Rangers – 1 year, $6 million
- Aaron Loup – Blue Jays – 2 years, $5 million
- Mike Zunino – Royals – 1 year, $4 million
- Mitch Moreland – Royals – 1 year, $3 million
- Kevin Pillar – Cubs – 1 year, $3 million
- Sean Doolittle – Nationals – 1 year, $2.5 million
- Brandon Workman – Rangers – 1 year, $2 million
- Brad Boxberger – Padres – minor league deal
- Drew Butera – Yankees – minor league deal
- Matt Kemp – Royals – minor league deal
- Sandy León – Astros – minor league deal
- Chris Owings – Nationals – minor league deal
- Daniel Murphy and Jonathan Schoop did not sign
The Faux 26-Man Roster in 2021
Germán Márquez, Zach Davies, Framber Valdéz, Kyle Freeland, Antonio Senzatela
Scott Oberg, Daniel Bard, Adam Ottavino, Mychal Givens, Justin Wilson, Yency Almonte, Carlos Estévez, Jon Gray (yep, we’re gonna try that out)
Martín Maldonado, Tony Wolters
Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, Kolten Wong, Josh Fuentes, Ryan McMahon, Garrett Hampson
Charlie Blackmon, Jorge Soler, Raimel Tapia, Ian Desmond, Bradley Zimmer
The Remainder of the 40-Man
1. Ryan Castellani
2. Phillip Diehl
3. Tommy Doyle
4. Chi Chi González
5. Ashton Goudeau
6. Sam Hilliard
7. Tyler Kinley
8. Peter Lambert
9. Justin Lawrence
10. José Mujica
11. Dom Nuñez
12. Brendan Rodgers
13. Ryan Rolison (added by me)
14. Colton Welker (added by me)
This roster brings the Rockies’ payroll to an estimated $174,417,500. In real life, Monfort would likely not allow Bridich to spend this kind of money. And even if he could, the likelihood that Bridich would make as many moves as we have here is also unlikely.
Baseball Trade Values is a very fun site to look at for this sort of thing. You can come up with your own trades and discover the median trade value for each side in a deal. I didn’t look at this while I was proposing trades, but I thought it would be interesting to see how each sides fared in retrospect:
- In the Ottavino deal, the Rockies are at -$5 million. The inclusion of $4.5 million from the Yankees would put us at just -$500K. The Yankees are at +$700K.
- In the Pint/Pallante swap, the Rockies are at +$700K, while the Cardinals are at +$500K.
- In the Soler deal, the Royals get good prospect value, with a value of +$23 million. The Rockies are at +$1.2 million in acquiring Soler, which goes up to +$10.2 million with the money crossing over.
- In the Hoffman/Jenista swap, the Rockies are at +$2.1 million, while the Braves are at zero.
- In the Tinoco/Martinez swap, the Rockies are at +$1.7 million, while the D-Backs are at zero.
- In the Díaz trade, the Angels are at zero, while the Rockies are getting $300K in the deal.
- The Rockies appeared to do quite well in the Astros trade. The Astros are at +$12.4 million from Bowden, Dahl and Schunk, while the Rockies at at +$49.5 million.
- Finally, with the Padres deal, the Rockies at at +$5.8 million, while the Padres are at +$6.4 million.
Thank you to Max Rieper, manager of Royals Review, for setting up the simulation and for all the hard work he always puts into this exercise! It’s always a ton of fun! Here’s a link to his recap.