20 October 2017

Blueprint For The 2018 Orioles (Option #5): Play The Veterans

Once the Orioles stop playing, we begin playing around with the roster and look toward the next year.  The Depot's Blueprint Series tries to take a well focused look as to what the potential solutions are to what ails the club.  A subset of our writers take part in this exercise and we invite our readership to submit their own ideas.  You have until October 22 to submit one yourself to CamdenDepot at gmail.

Below is our first reader submission.  I have edited it for clarity.  If I have been too extreme with my editorial skills, we will surely see the author complain in the comments.

Our first submission is from H. Davis.


Okay, let’s be real before I get to the business. A $155 million payroll will not get this done.  But it’s fun to try.

My expectation is everyone who could be back on some form of an option won’t be. Welington Castillo would be a fool to not decline his $7 million player option as he is obviously the best offensive catching option on the free agent market. Declining the club options on both J.J. Hardy and Wade Miley is necessary. Hardy should be able to find a starting job for another team (ala the Padres) and Miley needs to rebuild value back as a bullpen arm. The Orioles do not have the time to wait for this.

All of the seven arbitration eligible players will be offered contracts including Zach Britton, Brad Brach, Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, Kevin Gausman, Caleb Joseph, and Tim Beckham. After arbitration raises, that'll leave about $41.5 million to use in free agency. Now the fun begins. (113.5 MM)

“Reloading” the rotation…

The last thing the Orioles need this year is another revolving door of a rotation. Currently, I’d argue the SP 1 and SP 3 spots, filled with Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy, are written in with pen (as Buck would say) and Gabriel Ynoa is penciled in for now as the SP 5. but I argue that should only be a possibility in case of injury or lack of production.  Of the 41.5 million available, I would expect 25 million to be spent improving the rotation next year.  Now could that afford one front of the line starter? Sure.  But we would still need about one to two more after that. So Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta are out of our price range.  The spread should be two starters each at 10-12 MM AAV for 2018 and one for 5-8 MM AAV for 2018.

Using the given updated BORAS projections, I’d sign:
CC Sabathia: 2 years, $23 million ($11.5M AAV)
Lance Lynn: 2 years, $18.4 million ($9.2M AAV)
Hector Santiago: 1 years, $4 million ($4M AAV)
Total 2018 Costs: 24.7 MM
This rotation setup brings a LOT of question marks.  Can CC Sabathia replicate his 2017 season and be the needed veteran presence in the rotation? Can Lance Lynn transition to the hitter-favored American League?  Can Hector Santiago bounce back from a god-awful injury-plagued season? Those are a lot of question marks.  No doubt it can bring some stability.  This keeps Castro and Ynoa out of the rotation and makes them depth pieces.  I’d be very Duquettian in that I would attempt to bring back Tillman as a NRI and see if Henderson Alvarez and Tyson Ross would be interested in auditioning as NRIs as well. This rotation meets my goal of coming below my $25 MM budget for improving the rotation as well. (138.2 MM)

“Refining” the lineup...

With about $16.8 million left, the priority needs to be adding one (or two) left-handed hitting role players.  With a significantly right-handed hitting lineup, an additional lefty is useful to have either platooning or coming off the bench.  The best five candidates are Curtis Granderson, Jarrod Dyson, Jon Jay, Carlos Gonzalez, and (unlisted on the BORAS model) Ben Revere.  I think the best option of the group given is Granderson (12.7 M AAV) for his required contract range and consistency.  He would represent another great clubhouse presence and a role player to strengthen the daily lineup. Carlos Gonzalez would be an intriguing candidate IF two things which to occur; 1) Mark Trumbo was moved and 2) he was still available on the market as late as mid-February. I think both Dyson and Jay will require multi-year deals which if I am the front office have little interest in right now.

One of biggest glaring holes on our bench is the lack of a reliable bench player.  My advice would be to follow the following steps:
  • One, pursue a super utility player in the Rule 5 draft (which I would do anyway).  
  • Two, give both Steve Wilkerson and Luis Sardinas a Spring Training invites to see how they look in a utility roll.  
With our rotation concerns and budgetary concerns, acquiring a good, all-around bench role player with be difficult.  Names like Jed Lowrie and Martin Prade come to mind but would come at a cost.  Unfortunately, an in house candidate may be the best alternative. (151.4 MM)

"Retrofitting” an already strong bullpen…

With an already strong core, why not improve that core.  My last move would be adding an additional left-handed reliever to bolster the pen.  Fernando Abad had a decent 0.5 WAR season which is definitely worth (2 years, $9 MM).

In Summary:
CC Sabathia 2 years $23 million $11.5M AAV
Lance Lynn 2 years $18.4 million $9.2M AAV
Hector Santiago 1 year $4 million $4M AAV
Curtis Granderson 1 year $12.7 million $12.7M AAV
Fernando Abad 2 years $9 million $4.5 M AAV
Steve Wilkerson minor league, 1 year $550,000 $0.55 AAV
A final total brings me out to 42.45 million in additions to the final roster. I went over by less than 1 million dollars! (draws pinky finger to mouth.)

After everything, the Orioles end up with this 25-man roster...

A Starting Infield of:
C: Caleb Joseph 1B: Chris Davis 2B: Jonathan Schoop SS: Tim Beckham 3B: Manny Machado

A Starting Outfield of:
LF: Trey Mancini CF: Adam Jones RF: Austin Hays

A standard model DH:
DH: Mark Trumbo

And a more respectable bench:
OF Curtis Granderson C: Chance Sisco UTL: Steve Wilkerson COF/DH: Anthony Santander

A balanced rotation:
SP: Kevin Gausman SP: CC Sabathia SP: Lance Lynn SP: Dylan Bundy SP: Hector Santiago

A strong bullpen:
RP: Zach Britton RP: Darren O'Day RP: Brad Brach RP: Mychal Givens RP: Miguel Castro
RP: Richard Bleier/Donnie Hart RP: Fernando Abad

I believe the additions can bring more solidity to the rotation and the bench while adding to our strength. My last advice for the Orioles to not hold back.  Be wise but not fearful of adding to the already present team.  IMO, I would prefer to add a bigger name like Darvish but know the cost would not be had with our limits.  I imagine after under going this exercise that Duquette will do a lot to made improvement through the trade market.  I do expect for two free agents to be signed to fill in the rotation, but I do feel that one may be added via trade (hello Scott Kazmir or Ian Kennedy).  Subtracting Trumbo would be boon to team for many reasons as well.  It’s hard to say what the future holds, heck if one or two of these guys is signed by the Orioles I’d take that as a victory.  


Pip said...

We have a lot of utility infielder guys, I think the rule five is more likely to result in a pitcher.
Joe Biagini and Matthew Bowman were both excellent rule five pics in the 16 draft, although I don't know whether either was available in the Orioles drafted Joey Rickard.
Well chosen left-hander would be a big help.

btwrestler119 said...

I think counting on the rule 5 pick to contribute in a meaningful way is flawed.

Unknown said...

LMAO...@Davis at 2nd. He has a nice place on the end of the bench!

btwrestler119 said...

Take another look, he has Davis at 1B.

Anonymous said...

He missed $4.4M in ML min players.

Pip said...

Although that is true, the fact is that two of our own rule five pics did contribute meaningfully, and Joe Biagini and Matthew bowman were significant contributors to their respective teams.
Well chosen player can be a producer. The key is to know where to look, which would be in teams with very deep systems, and to have good evaluators. I'm not sure the Orioles do.

Unknown said...

Mendozadog didn't.

Anonymous said...

Santander has potential from the Rule 5 slot.

btwrestler119 said...

I'm not saying Rule 5 picks don't have potential or can't be valuable pieces (I like Santander and I think it was a smart pick-up, but did he fill a role on the team last year?) . I'm saying that to count on a Rule 5 pick to fill a role on a team trying to compete is wishful thinking because most Rule 5 picks turn into nothing.

I'd rather the Orioles sell big right now and rebuild, but if they are going to try and compete, they should at least give themselves their best chance to compete.

Pip said...

I'm not arguing either of your points: even a well chosen rule five will not make a major difference, unless it is an extraordinarily lucky find.
However, it is an absolute given that Dan will choose a rule five player, it will be an unexpected rule five player, and it will probably be someone with a very high ceiling and a very very low floor.
Flaherty and McFarland had fairly high floors but low ceilings, and one can debate their contributions. (I remain rather fond of Flaherty despite his career .1 WAR. In 13 and 14, he was a valuable stand-in for Machado, and contributed several highlight reel
plays in the Division series.)
But that Dan will make a selection and do his best to keep that selection is as definite as the sun coming up in the morning.

Pip said...

Roger, they all have potential. I think Santander can actually be a real contributor, but that is by no means a safe bet at this time.