Dave’s 2012 Off-Season Plan (Part One)
So, I’ve been rolling these posts out every winter for about a decade now, but this year, I’m actually doing two of these posts. As you’ve probably gathered from my musings over the last few months, I’m of the opinion that the M’s should target a certain first baseman from the Cincinnati Reds this winter, and make acquiring him priority #1. However, there is the potential reality that the Reds just might not be willing to trade him, even if the Mariners put together an extremely strong offer in order to try to change their minds.
The moves in this post are all predicated upon the fact that the M’s could potentially acquire Joey Votto. The roster below really only works if he’s on it, and the rest of the moves were made with the assumption that he’s now anchoring the team’s offense. If he’s not on it, different moves would have to be made. So, we’re doing two Off-Season Plan plan posts this year – one where Votto can be had and one where he can’t. In this scenario, he can be. We’ll deal with Plan B next week.
On to the moves, many of which I’ve tried to lay the groundwork for in prior posts.
Trade RHP Michael Pineda, RHP Brandon League, OF Greg Halman, 3B Chone Figgins (with Seattle absorbing $16 of remaining $17 million on Figgins’ contract), and SS Carlos Triunfel to Cincinnati for 1B Joey Votto and C Yasmani Grandal.
Sign Chris Snyder to a 1 year, $3 million contract.
Sign Erik Bedard to a 1 year, $4 million contract.
Sign Jamie Moyer to a 1 year, $500,000 contract.
The big move is obviously the Votto acquisition. The team pays a high price by surrendering Pineda+ to get him, but when you’re trying ta acquire MVP-caliber talent, you have to put a knockout package on the table. With the pitching staff taking a hit to bring Votto in, many of the other moves are made to replenish the depth lost in the main deal.
Carp is an expendable piece whose strong second half would likely fetch a couple of solid role players in retrun. With Prince Fielder on his way out, the Brewers could use a power hitting left-handed first baseman, and they’re not likely to let Mat Gamel come to spring training without competition for the job. Estrada is an interesting arm who Wedge may should be comfortable giving the closer’s title to out of spring training, but could potentially move into a rotation role if Tom Wilhelmsen proves ready for 9th inning duty at some point during the summer. McGehee gives the team flexibility at third base and a right-handed bat with some power that they’re lacking.
Volstad essentially replaces Pineda in the rotation, as the M’s get another young hurler with problems against LHBs, though the upside is substantially lower. The Marlins would almost certainly part with their frustrating young hurler, and Saunders and Cortes both offer enough tools to sell as change-of-scenery upside buys for Florida.
Pagan is a perfect complement to Casper Wells in left field and offers a legitimate alternative to Franklin Gutierrez if his health continues to be a problem. The M’s can offer Jimenez and his always intriguing K rates from an LHP to the Mets to convince them to tender him a contract rather than putting him out on the free agent market in December.
Finally, the team finishes with three one year contracts to health risk free agents, adding depth and some upside without parting with much cash. Snyder offers a decent approach at the plate and sets up a job-share at catcher. Bedard returns to the friendly confines of Safeco Field to once again try to spend more than half a season on the mound and rebuild some value. Moyer comes back to the place he was most successful to try to sustain his career. For relative peanuts, the team gets three guys who may not be workhorses, but offer intriguing possibilities for when they are on the field and give the team depth at positions of weakness.
That collection of moves, combined with the remaining talent already in the organization, gives us the following team.
By acquiring a lower salaried star in Votto, there was enough money left to fill various holes with useful role players and not have to expand the budget from beyond where it was last year. This roster is essentially do-able for what the team has been spending historically, and while it’s not as good as what Texas will put on the field next year, it’s not that far from being a contender.
The roster projects out right around +40 WAR, which is roughly an 83 win team. However, there’s upside here – Gutierrez, Pagan, and Ichiro were all substantially better than their projected values in the recent past, while Ackley, Smoak, and Volstad all have enough talent to surpass what is expected of them here. Potential second-half additions in Danny Hultzen and James Paxton could bolster the pitching staff, but would only be summoned if they had shown they were ready for the show.
You’d need breaks to go your way, some good luck with guys staying healthy, and perhaps a breakthrough performance from a couple of the relievers to solidify the bullpen, but contending is a possibility for this squad. At the very least, they should be able to play respectable baseball and get fans excited about coming to Safeco Field once again.
The other benefit – the team still retains most of their long term cost flexibility for the 2013 off-season. Unlike locking yourself into a free agent who will eat up a huge part of the budget for the foreseeable future, this roster gives you the ability to make adjustments going forward. It’s a path to putting a good team on the field without requiring an all-in bet on one player. It gives the Mariners the chance to be good without destroying their future if one big ticket acquisition fails to live up to his hefty contract.
For me, this would be Plan A. Go balls to the wall to get Votto, and then do what’s necessary to fill in the pieces around him to make this a respectable team who could potentially contend in 2012 and would be setup well for 2013 and beyond. If the Reds decide not to play ball when discussing their first baseman… well, we’ll get to Plan B later.