Plan B: What Would Stevil Do If Paxton and Díaz Stick Around?

By Stevil, October 18th, 2017



Let's say Paxton and Díaz stay, because Dipoto wants a proven ace at the top of our rotation (how dare him), even if there are serious durability concerns, and believes that now is the wrong time to sell high on our closer. What then?

Well, payroll would be higher with Paxton on board, as he should net considerably more as an arbitration-eligible player, so cutting corners is a must. That means ditching the plan to carry Smyly, at least for the immediate time being, and shaking up the deal with Tampa, as sending them cash wouldn't likely be a possibility (or necessary). Sogard wouldn't be feasible, either. But, this would still allow us to squeeze in middle-infield depth, we'd just have to be a little more creative.

With that in mind, here's a revised look at what I would try to make happen with Paxton and Díaz on board. There are a few notable changes, and you have nothing better to do, so give this some thought...

Via Trade:

1. Daulton Jefferies, RHSP, to Seattle; Dan Vogelbach, DH/1B, to Oakland.
2. Christian Walker, 1B, to Seattle; Luis Liberato, OF, to Arizona.
3. Yonny Chirinos, RHSP, to Seattle; Dan Altavilla, RHRP, and Marc Rzepczynski, LHRP, to Tampa Bay.
4. Brett Phillips, OF, to Seattle; Tony Zych, RHRP, to Milwaukee.
5. Dinelson Lamet, RHP, and Trey Wingenter, RHRP, to Seattle; Ariel Miranda, LHSP, and Rob Whalen, RHSP, to San Diego.
6. Danny Jansen, C, to Seattle; Chase De Jong, RHSP, to Toronto.
7. Dexter Fowler, OF, cash (17 million over 4 years), and IBP cash (1 million) to Seattle; Chuck Taylor, OF, to St. Louis.
8. Mike Ford, 1B, and Tyler Wade, SS/2B, to Seattle; Nick Zammarelli III, 1B, Gareth Morgan, OF, Art Warren, RHRP, and Marvin Gorgas, RHRP, to New York Yankees.


Via Free Agency:

1. Alex Cobb, RHSP; 4 years, 64 million (back-loaded; 12 million 2018-2019) +option.
2. Daniel Nava, OF/1B; 1 year, 2 million +incentives.
3. Tyler Chatwood; 1 year, 5 million +incentives, +option.
4. Shohei Ohtani, RHSP/DH; Everything legally possible.


Effect on Payroll:

Approximately 167 million for 2018. The breakdown:19 in Free Agent signings, approximately 127 in committed salaries, an estimated 22 in arbitration-eligible players, roughly 5.5 million in pre-arb players, 3 million in buyouts (Iwakuma and Gallardo), 9.5 incoming from St. Louis.

Rotation:

James Paxton, LHSP
Alex Cobb, RHSP
Mike Leake, RHSP
Félix Hernández, RHSP
Tyler Chatwood, RHSP


Bullpen:

Edwin Díaz, RHP; CL
Nick Vincent, RHP
David Phelps, RHP
Erasmo Ramírez, RHP
Dinelson Lamet, RHP
James Pazos, LHP
Marco Gonzales, LHP


Lineup vs. RHP:

1. Dexter Fowler, LF (S)
2. Jean Segura, SS (R)
3. Robinson Canó, 2B (L)
4. Nelson Cruz, DH (R)
5. Kyle Seager, 3B, (L)
6. Mitch Haniger, CF (R)
7. Christian Walker, 1B (R)
8. Ben Gamel, LF, (L)
9. Mike Zunino, C, (R)


Lineup vs. LHP:

1. Jean Segura, SS (R)
2. Mitch Haniger, RF (R)
3. Robinson Canó, 2B (L)
4. Nelson Cruz, DH (R)
5. Mike Zunino, C (R)
6. Christian Walker, 1B (R)
7. Dexter Fowler, LF (S)
8. Kyle Seager, 3B (L)
9. Guillermo Heredia, CF (R)


Bench:

Tyler Wade, INF (L)
Daniel Nava, OF/1B (S)
Guillermo Heredia, OF (R)
Mike Marjama, C (R)


New Notes:

*Pagan, Simmons, and Chirinos would become depth.
*We end up with two Tyler's on the active roster and neither of them is O'Neill.

Like I said, there's a few changes. Many of the outgoing players would have alternate destinations to better serve each team's needs, though it's  mostly the same outgoing players, plus a couple more. It should be understood that any deal consummated has to make sense for the other teams involved. In the case of the Yankees, they don't appear to have room on their 40 for Ford or Wade. They're overloaded with infielders, and though they could try to move Headley or Cooper, or even Castro, Torres is knocking on the door. 

Wade would become our new utility infielder. He has some outfield experience as well and a package of non-40 prospects should be enticing to acquire those two. Ford would likely be lost in the Rule 5 if he isn't traded; Wade would end up being a long-term AAA veteran, so moving them now would make sense for New York.

This is probably more feasible than the plan I originally laid out, but I can't believe nobody has questioned the proposed deal for Fowler. Phillips is probably ready now. Bishop is roughly a year away (possibly a little longer) and Lewis is probably 2-3 years away. White's in that conversation as well if Walker or Ford cut it at 1B.

So, why Fowler?

He would bring more veteran presence and has World Series experience. His contract wouldn't be so difficult to move in a year or two, either, with St. Louis covering some of the dough. He would have to waive his no-trade clause, but that shouldn't be difficult to get around if St. Louis intends to give the bulk of his playing time to other outfielders over the next 4 years. This is called leverage: one of the hidden tools of a GM. Manuel Margot would be a nice alternative, but I would imagine the Padres would want too much.

And why the addition of Chatwood?

On paper, the rotation doesn't look bad with Paxton and Chirinos or Ramírez. But the reality is that we would be leaning on two starters with serious durability concerns, plus an unproven rookie. Leaning on rookies without durability concerns runs some risk, but more so with production, which can be addressed with relief help—at least initially. Collectively, it's just not a sound plan. And since we all know the 1st and 2nd tier starters are going to be in high demand, I think we would need to poach from the 3rd tier and he tops that 3rd tier, in my opinion.

Tyler Chatwood didn't have a great 2017. He had 15 losses, which led the league, and his BB/9 was comparable to Gallardo's. He was actually demoted in the second half. The walks have been an ongoing issue for him, but to his credit, he doesn't have a HR problem and moving to the AL West would likely further assist him in keeping the ball in the park. Unlike Gallardo, he's a ground ball pitcher that shouldn't cost much to sign. He's a classic example of a rebound candidate, rather than a reclamation project. He's hardly an innings-eater, but at the tail end of the rotation, he should suffice. 
It should go without saying that he wouldn't be needed if we landed Ohtani.

What I would prefer to do and what is more likely are two different entities. I can't stress enough that I believe we really need to stock up on young pitching, and the only way I believe that's possible would be to move Paxton and Díaz. If we fall out of contention early, for whatever reason, I could still see that happening. Cruz and Seager could go at that point as well. That said, I still wonder if Díaz won't be shopped. Many teams need closers, and Tampa's Colome will make around 6 million. Selling high on him, then trading for Díaz really would make sense, and I don't think asking for Honeywell would be a stretch. Yes, I'm bent on trying to acquire Honeywell.

What I hate about this plan (B), without Ohtani in the fold, is that we don't have a potential replacement ace in the making, we would have just one real veteran on the bench, and our rotation isn't very young.

What I like about this plan (B) is that with Ohtani, we would have that ace, and Wade brings some much-needed speed to the bench, as well as a LHB.

That's it for now. As we start seeing things play out, I'll weigh in with more improvised ideas.

Update: Since posting this, the Mariners have acquired Ryon Healy to man 1B, which clears room for Davis to DH in Oakland. Jon Jay has been reported to be in negotiations with Seattle, which makes plenty of sense given that he's a LHH and shouldn't cost much. Vieira and Pagan are gone; Smyly and Simmons were non-tendered, and Seattle is at the forefront of the Ohtani sweepstakes. 

Darvish now makes a lot of sense, as he wouldn't cost a pick, and Matt Adams may make a solid, affordable fallback option for Healy, if not a platoon partner.

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