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Recapping the 2017 GM Winter Meetings Simulation - Part 2: The Moves

Today we detail the specific moves made and some of the reasoning that went into the decisions.

San Diego Padres v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Rubby De La Rosa to the San Diego Padres for Kevin Quackenbush (through 2021)

Rubby De La Rosa was a bit of an odd duck (no pun intended here). We preferred to tender him and then flip him than let him just walk away non-tender. We even preferred tendering him and then trying to fit him into the bullpen rather than just letting him go. However, there are real doubts about whether RDLR will actually throw a pitch for the Diamondbacks in 2017, so we decided to tender and then trade for what we could. We tried a few different avenues, but early activity made nailing down a suitor difficult. The consensus was that near the end, if we still had him, others would be willing to buy low on him. If selling low, we preferred to do it when we could dictate the field. Quakenbush has experience closing. He also should be an upgrade over current members of the Diamondbacks’ bullpen. He is still pre-arbitration for one more season, so at the very least, we are getting more years of control, and not paying RDLR $3 million to rehab throughout 2017 and then hope he can contribute for the same or more in 2018.

Yansmany Tomás to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for catcher Carlos Perez (through 2022)

Carlos Perez is 25 and is not arbitration eligible until 2018. He’s a borderline starter, easy fit as a backup catcher already. A bit more development and he could be a starter moving forward when Castillo get too expensive to retain. This also slow the urgency on Oscar Hernandez being ready to make the transition. This saves the Diamondbacks significant salary moving forward and addresses one of the thinnest parts of the organization.

Patrick Corbin, Randall Delgado, Peter O’Brien, and Jack Reinheimer to the New York Yankees for Tommy Layne (through 2021), and Bryan Mitchell (through 2022), Luis Torrens, and Jorge Mateo

This one sort of came out of nowhere, and then exploded all on its own. The Yankees were curious about Corbin and we countered with a few names we liked, including their two hot SS prospects and the #9 catching prospect in baseball, along with some intriguing bullpen pieces. The reply was that something could be worked out if we were willing to part with O’Brien and Reinheimer, but that it would be #18 overall prospect Mateo and not #17 Torres. Twist my arm. Due to present depth at catching, Torrens was also very available. Delgado was added by us for two reasons, it evened out the return some in terms of talent, and it also saved us an additional $1.9 million, bringing total dollar savings to roughly $4.5 million.

This return gives us a pre-arbitration bullpen arm with success in the difficult AL East in Layne. It gives the team essentially RDLR v2.0 in Bryan Mitchell, but without the injury or salary concerns. Mitchell can start in Reno to see if he can finally find consistency. If he doesn’t, he is a heartbeat away from being a reliever with a 97-mph fastball, 92-mph cutter, and an 84-mph hammer that could be used in late-game relief. Torrens and Hernandez are then in the pipeline as catching depth, both with MLB floors, though Torrens has a much higher chance of being a starter than Hernandez. Both are known for being glove-first, but Torrens has some stick. Then we also land the #18 prospect, a shortstop to pair with Leyba moving forward.

Vidal Nuno signed to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training

This is a depth move more than anything else. Starting pitching is thin, and so potentially is long relief. Nuno was very close to league average as a starter (though entirely unspectacular) and slightly above as a reliever. This is a no-risk move that simply give the team a bit of depth to avoid panic in the event of an injury or two.

Daniel Hudson signed to a 2-year/$3 million contract

Despite Hudson having his issues going into the trade deadline last season, outside of that horrific stretch where he went from one of the best relievers in the game to one of the worst, he was a solid, hard-throwing, right-handed reliever. with the way reliever salaries were getting out of control, it was nice to be able to go after Hudson at such a reasonable rate. Given the overwhelming response that I received after making this deal, it seems others were thinking the same thing.

David Hernandez signed to a 2-year/$8 million contract

Mark Melancon’s bidding got out of hand. We went to our limit and then went a bit beyond, but someone with deep pockets kept pushing the price higher and higher. (Later I discovered I was bidding against the Chicago Cubs, so bowing out turned out to be the smart move.) Since Melancon was not going to be anchoring the bullpen, it seemed best to get multiple arms that could pitch high leverage innings, trying to avoid Torey Lovullo finding himself with limited options to mix and match in late-game situations. While there were plenty of bigger names on the market, David Hernandez represented that sweet spot between consistent success above league average and still not being a premium free agent.

R.A. Dickey signed to a 1-year/$8 million contract

Finding pitchers ready to start at the MLB level via trade was proving very difficult. Without offering Pollock or Goldschmidt, the only other assets anyone was interested in for pitching were Bradley and Shipley, both plus additional talent. Dickey may or may not be much of a pitcher in 2017. As a knuckleballer, his arm health was far less of a worry than some of the names that were still on the market. Furthermore, there was no need to sign Dickey to multiple seasons. If moving to the “easier” National League allows Dickey to see something of a bounce-back year in 2017, then the Diamondbacks pick up 200 reliable innings for nothing more than a small, 1-year contract. $8 million is a fair bit of change, but it is only for one year and the Diamondbacks do not sacrifice talent. There is very little risk here with a moderate reward potential.

Jason Groome, Mauricio Dubon and Steven Wright (all-star starter last year) for Greinke plus Arizona picks up $15 million/year on the Greinke contract.

As the sim progressed, it became more and more apparent that our attempts to compete in 2017 were being blocked by a lack of desirable talent. This was a bit surprising, as the one place we figured on being constrained when we first started was with payroll. However, short of Melancon, free agents who interested us in the slightest were all going for very reasonable prices that we could afford, even with Greinke still on the books. Simply put, we were up against a wall trying to build a MLB team that would have a window beyond 2017. We could, however, take a swing at 2017 and make sure the team was in position to compete, sustainably, from 2018 on. By this time, even if we had wanted to, it was too late to sell off Goldschmidt, though the deals being made elsewhere suggested that we would never have received enough value in return. So it was that we entered negotiations with the Red Sox, looking for talent and dollars both, some for 2017, the rest for 2018-2021. As one of only four teams in the simulation that ever had the salary space to acquitre Greinke, the Red Sox were the obvious trade partners. The Yankees were pretty barren and actually trying to get younger and cheaper. The Cubs were spending silly cash to make themselves competitors for 120+ wins, but not trading prospects. The Dodgers wree not an option, as trading Greinke intra-division to the team we are actively chasing was simply not acceptable.

The Greinke trade opened up the ability for the Diamondbacks to purchase more immediate help that woud contribute in in 2017 and then could be discarded in the event that 2017 wound up not winning. It also gave the team more top-tier developing talent in the form of Jason Groome. Steven Wright, while 32, steps in as a “replacement” in the rotation for the departing Greinke. At the worst, he forces one of the numerous prospect arms to push him out ratehr than simply being handed a rotation slot. As a pre-arbitration pitcher, he is also easily moved in the futrue and keeps costs down if he continues to perform for another two or three seasons.

Dubon is another middle infielder. At age 22, he is already hitting at the AA level and is poised to make the next step to AAA. Heis a high OBP guy with 30-35 stolen base potential that doesn’t strike out and is capable of playing short or second. In essence, he is a younger version of what Jean Segura was in 2016. Combined with Mateo and Leyba, the three make up an impressive crop of middle infielders who are all potential cornerstones of a new “competitive window”.

Ivan Nova signed for 1-year $12 million with team option for a second season at the same price.

Some might claim that this is a somewhat steep price for Nova, no doubt. However, Nova represents possibly the best balance between expected performance and the chance to have a strong “make-good” season. Unlike Jeremy Hellickson, Nova also comes on a 1-year deal. If he can repeat his Pittsburgh performance, he would be one of the better pitchers in the Arizona rotation, and can be had for a second year, or tendered a qualifying offer. If he regresses back to the days in which he was struggling, rather than his prime Pittsburgh performance, then he is gone at the end of the year. His presence allows Arizona to attempt to field a competitive rotation in 2016 and also to slow the progression of minor leaguers into the rotation, making them force their way into it, rather than being handed a slot just because the team is short on arms. Given that Nova was still unsifgned as the deadline was looming, giving him his expected AAV on a one-year was more than enough to get him to jump aboard, rather than competing with some of the lesser multi-year offers.

David Peralta and Tyler Wagner to Houston for Tyson Ross

No amount of upgrading the bullpen was going to help if the rotation still couldn’t manage to perform much better than 2016. This deal was struck (but not finalized), when the goal was still entirely about competing in 2016. The loss of Peralta and his years of control is tough, but Tyson Ross wound up being one of the very best starters available in a market where teams were unwilling to move pitching, due in large part to the historically weak free agent market for starting arms. This deal combined with others still gives Arizona a shot at a competitive rotation, and the team can look forward to extending Tyson Ross a qualifying offer at the end of the year, with no intention of bringing him back should he not accept it. With Haniger, Brito, Jensen, and Drury available in-house, along with possible promotions, the loss of PEralta should be mostly mitigated, though his left-handedness will be missed.

Archie Bradley and Jean Segura to the White Sox for David Robertson, Courtney Hawkins, Brian Clark, Juan Minaya, Chris Beck, Trey Michalczewski, and $3,500,000

This deal looks horrible, and granted, it is not a great one. The horrible part here is the inclusion of Archie Bradley though, and not the loss of one year of Jean Segura. On the flip-side though, the team is picking up an established late-inning reliever at a fraction of the going rate, plus a very viable candidate for his replacement in the form of still rookie-status Juan Minaya. Hawkins, Clark, Beck, and Michalczewski are all prospects with varied degrees of ceiling, but all would rank in Arizona’s top-30, with Clark and Beck representing arms which are close to MLB-ready – Clark from the left side. Curtis and I went back and forth on this one for a bit. The loss of one season of Segura was something we could stomach. We were less sure about parting with Bradley. However, neither of us were willing to bet everything on Bradley being much better than he has been so far. This deal is underwhelming, but gave the team a mix of both prospect quality (Minaya, Clark) and quantity (Beck, Michalczewski). Combined with the Greinke and Corbin trades, the Arizona farm was transformed from one of the worst to an incredibly strong one.

Three Team Deal:

Welington Castillo and Andrew Chafin to Seattle, Anthony Banda to Tampa Bay. Diamondbacks receive Steve, Cishek, Christian Friedrich, Erasmo Ramirez, and Matt Andriese.

Looking to give the Diamondbacks one more chance to compete in 2016, and to also develop one more potential qualifying offer, this deal wound up turning out even better than it felt at first. Yes, this thins the top-tier of catching a bit, but only for 2017. Perez is still backed up by Herrmann and they Torrens and Hernandez are in place for 2018 to help Perez in the future. Castillo for Cishek became essentially a swap of contracts. Chafin + Banda is a steep pre-arbitration price to pay, but the return is nothing to be put out about. Erasmao Ramirez is just entering arbitration in 2017, but has already established himself as a solid number three or four starter in the league. Matt Andriese is a pre-arbitration right-hander with the floor of a MLB starter. He is still a work in progress, but no more so than Banda was likely to be upon first promotion. The difference is, we already know Andriese has the chops to perform at the top level. If he improves any, he’s a solid piece for the middle of the rotation moving forward. If he remains constant, he becomes trade bait or bullpen arm with three pitches and good strikeout numbers in the future. Essentially, Banda+Chafin was turned into two starters with a combined seven years of control instead of one potential starter and one bullpen arm.

***Tomorrow’s segment will present the final team in context, along with closing thoughts by the GMs.