Ah, the SBN Offseason simulation. Always a good time where 30 people get together to spend funny money and execute those trades that we’ve always wanted to do, but didn’t have the ability to do it in real life since...you know...we’re not actually general managers. With the ‘rona tamping down salaries in real life, we were given the mandate to kind of adhere to the budget as much as possible, that budget remaining the same as it was in the 2019-20 exercise. So, how did your boy do? Here’s the recap.
$182,000,000 (roughly 20-25% less than the actual 2020 player salary budget)
Options to decide on
David Phelps - $4.5 million ($250,000 buyout): DECLINED
Hector Neris - $7 million (remains on 40-man roster): DECLINED, went to arbitration
David Robertson - $12 million ($2 million buyout): DECLINED
I decided to stick with what the team did and decline all the options, though I still believe Phelps would’ve been a good bet to bounce back, especially at that salary.
Pretty easy call there. There was never a thought to deviate from what the team actually did.
So, what was the plan here? Well, since we were kind of guided to try and stay close to real life, that’s what I decided to do. It would have been easy to just go back to what was spent on the team in 2020, but that’s not what is going to happen. Sure, that could change, but all the signals being sent so far show that the team is going to experience a drop in payroll. So while that $182 million isn’t a hard cap, I treated it as such. Should an opportunity arise where the team would get significantly better by going over that number - yes, we’re going to spend.
This is what the roster looked like heading in:
We know the bullpen stunk last year, so that had to be upgraded. Bench depth was also an issue, as well as pitching depth, particularly major league quality depth. All of this had to be done while also making sure there was pocket change for a big free agent, be it Realmuto, George Springer or someone else.
Let’s see what happened.
The first call made was about maintaining interest in J.T. Realmuto. We wanted the chance to match any offer and we were given that. We shall see.
However, the first order of business is always the bullpen in this thing since those are the places you can find deals. Initially, I wanted to secure more than one arm there, but the more I thought about it, the more I think the team needs someone at the end of the game where you don’t feel nervous each and every time he pitches with a lead like we do whenever Hector Neris pitches. The term “lockdown closer” is kind of comforting, but they are increasingly rare these days where matchup bullpen are en vogue. So when one comes open and there is budget space for him, with a spot for one, you jump on him
Phillies sign Liam Hendriks to a 3 year/$37.5 million contract ($11.5 million in 2021, $13 million in 2022-23)
Again, outside of Realmuto, Hendriks might be my #1 wish for the Phillies this offseason. He’d fit perfectly at the end of games and he would remove Neris from closing out any games anymore. He could push pitchers into more proper roles that would allow them succeed, making the bullpen a little stronger. I’m a big believer in Jojo Romero, Ranger Suarez and Connor Brogdon headed into 2021, so with Hendriks heading those three and Neris, that’s a much more solid group that what was trotted out in 2020.
That ate more into the budget than I would have wanted, so now, we had to focus on Realmuto. Was he going to stay or was he going to go? Complicating things was James McCann going off the board early, meaning if the team wanted Realmuto, they’d have to pay. So the bidding began.
We started at 6 years, $132 million to offset the 6/$130M initial offer. Our offer was topped. So we countered.
There came a time where I thought about walking away, but eventually we came to a deal.
Phillies sign J.T. Realmuto to a 6 year/$172 million deal
That’s probably a lot steeper than I would have liked to have gone, but the problem became opportunity for other upgrades. George Springer went early to Cleveland (6/$170 million), so there wasn’t really any other significant spots to spend. Realmuto became almost a necessity, but it’s not like it’s adding an overpaid veteran. He’s still the best catcher in the game. And the teams bidding against me? The Mets, Nationals and Marlins. Our division rivals all got worse.
Now, the budget started to get a little too high with not a whole lot of wiggle room, so we had to clear some space. The most obvious spot was Vince Velasquez since so many teams needed pitching and he’s kind of cost-controlled. Plus, I’m just done with him. So the bat signal went out that he was available and....
Phillies trade Vince Velasquez to the Rays for Joey Wendle
If this happens in real life, I might do back flips. Wendle will likely be overrated because we just watched him perform quite well in the playoffs, but he’s also a pretty valuable bench piece that can be used as insurance in case Scott Kingery tanks again. If Kingery rebounds, Wendle can be moved around as needed. Plus, he’s roughly $2 million less according to arbitration projections, so that seems like a complete win for the Phillies. The only issue is that trading Velasquez means the team would be going with Spencer Howard and his balky shoulder in one rotation spot and possibly leaning on Adonis Medina or some other youngster in the other spot. That’s not what a contending team wants to do. So, we scanned the free agent wire and what did we find?
Phillies sign Cole Hamels to a 1 year/$3.5 million contract
So now, what do we do? We can add some minor league signings (come on down David Robertson, Mike Montgomery and T.J. MacFarland!) but we still want t—hold on, John Middleton is calling.
Yes sir, you want us to offload money? Uh, ok, but that’s hard.
Wait, I have an idea.
Phillies trade Odubel Herrera and Kyle Dohy to the Braves for Ender Inciarte
This one was nice. I threw out the name that I would trade him for basically anything. Didn’t matter what, I just wanted to make his salary work for me rather than let it waste away in the minors. Atlanta came calling, offered up Inciarte as long as Dohy was involved to make up the difference in salaries. Bam - deal.
Would this one happen in real life? Probably not.
Here is what the 2021 Phillies should look like.
Final budget count - $181,251,667
I’m happy with how this turned out. While I may have overspent on Realmuto, in the end, I kind of needed to. Going into 2021, this team needed a more balanced roster, but with so much money tied up a few players, that makes life really hard, especially if they’re not going to spend. However, I believe I strengthened the bullpen significantly, retained a major offensive and defensive piece and improved depth. It’s all been tough, but still I think I did the job.
Some things I think I missed on:
- Didi Gregorius signed late and for cheap (2 years/$24 million). Had I had known he was going to be that cheap, that’s an easy “I can top that” deal to make
- Carlos Correa was offered around the league, including us, so I did make some inquiries. The price tag was astronomical (Howard, Bohm and Nick Maton), so I passed pretty quickly, but he would have been a nice add.
- Should we have gone after McCann early, saved money and splurged elsewhere? Maybe, but is that the best way to prop up the roster?
Here is the piece that includes all the moves made during the simulation. Based on that, grade my performance and fire away with your comments.
How did the Phillies do in the SBN offseason simulation?
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