I had the privilege of being the Fake GM of the Cardinals for the Royals Review Offseason sim. This lasts a total of three days, so you have transactions flying all the time, so a special shout out to Max from Royals Review who acts as the player agent and also logs all the transactions for the sim. I tried to keep true to what the Cardinals would really do in an offseason, while also rolling with the punches and readjusting strategies. First of all I got approached by the Marlins about a potential Stanton deal. Unfortunately, I found the asking price to be too high especially with the salary factored in and I ended up having to pass. It also didn't help that Boston offered a mega deal for Stanton including Jackie Bradley Jr, Xander Bogaerts, Blake Swihart, and Brian Johnson. At the same time I got approached by Oakland about a Stephen Piscotty deal and Carson Kelly trade. I ended up combining the two trades and the structure worked out like this:
Stephen Piscotty and Carson Kelly
Franklin Barreto (SS #1 Oakland Prospect), Grant Holmes (RHP #9), and Kevin Merrell (SS/2B/CF #15)
I really liked the Flexibility and speed that both Barreto and Merrell as both bring a balanced approach to the plate with good defense and ability to steal some bases. I mainly got Holmes because I could not get Luzardo or Puk from Oakland, and I liked his stuff better than Logan Shore, and because Holmes is highly regarded and I could flip him in a trade. This would allow me to save Reyes, Weaver, Flaherty, and Hudson for the Cardinals use or a later trade. This also gets Piscotty closer to his family which I think will be good for him.
I then started working out a deal with the Twins for Brian Dozier. The prices on Donaldson, Schoop, Blackmon, and Stanton were high and Machado was unavailable so I figured Dozier could be a great substitute. I really love Dozier's game as well. High OBP, steals bases, hits for power, great defense and a cheap salary. I also saw an opportunity to be able to make an impact trade without giving up Reyes, Flaherty, or Weaver and in addition still get value for Wacha. So after a little back and forth, we agreed to this deal.
Brian Dozier, Lewin Diaz (1B Twins #10) and 2 Million
Michael Wacha, Grant Holmes, Zach Jackson, Aledmys Diaz, and Jordan Hicks.
This trade really hurt especially trading away Jackson who I loved watching play, but there is the chance he won't stick behind the plate, and this was my best chance to get an impact bat without giving up our top three young pitchers.
Tommy Edman and Alex Mejia
I did not have any plans on carrying Mejia on the 40 man (and neither did the Cards), and Tommy Edman became expendable with the SS depth I just traded for. Ramirez is a good swing man, is not expensive, and is good injury depth on a team.
In Free Agency
Wade Davis 4 Years/ 60 Million
This may have been a bit of an overpay but I decided to get the best closer on the market and solve that issue immediately. I honestly thought he would eventually sign for more. I tried to trade for a couple of closers/ closer types but found the asking price to be a little steep. There was also a miscommunication between offers for Brandon Morrow and Juan Nicasio so Nicasio was no longer an option. Instead I chose to get an elite closer and fill in the gaps with some lower level signings. I thought that would be a better use of my money than paying Morrow, Joe Smith, and Addison Reed between 7-11 mil a year for 3 years.
Jake Arrietta 4 Years/ 88 Million
Since I had committed to keeping Weaver, Flaherty, Reyes, and Hudson in the fold, and had just traded Wacha I decided to go after Arrietta. The price had started out surprisingly low (3 Year deals) but jumped up after the Orioles signed Yu Darvish for 160 Million. My thinking was this... I could have a rotation anchored with Martinez, Weaver, Reyes, and Flaherty the next few years so I could splurge a bit on Arrietta and with Waino coming off the books next season, we could stretch the payroll a bit for 2018 and then it would come back down by next season.
Chris Tillman 1 Year/ 4 Million
Worthwhile gamble to see if he will improve with better health and getting to work with Maddux. If not, then I only committed 4 million. I think it is worth it just to give Flaherty some extra time in the minors to hone in his craft (like 2017 Weaver).
Koji Uehara 1 Year/ 3 Million
Still an effective reliever if used properly. That splitter is still nasty and I thought he was worth the 3 million gamble.
Eduardo Nunez 3 Years/ 25 Million
I really like Eduardo's versatility and game. He is really fast and an effective base stealer. He hits for contact and can really stabilize a roster. I had some other deals in the works in that moment so I made sure I locked up Nunez when I had the chance. He would almost take on a zobrist-esque utility role for me depending on the matchup. But in real life, not sure MM would use him properly.
Chris Hermann 1 year/ 3 million
I probably should have waited out the catching market a bit, but after trading Carson Kelly I wanted to get a nice backup catcher who could also play other positions as needed. My personal belief is that a backup catcher essentially wastes a roster spot unless he can play some other positions since he rarely plays. Especially on this team.
Derek Holland Minors deal
Just see if he has anything left working with his old pitching coach Mike Maddux.
Matt Garza Minors deal
Basically same as above. Low risk, high reward.
Brock Holt Minors deal
Ultra utility man. Good guy to have stashed in Memphis
Shawn Tolleson Minors deal
Former closer, nice bullpen depth
Andrew Romine Minors Deal
Nice player who can catch and play other positions. Good insurance for catcher.
I also non tendered Rosenthal. I planned on offering a similar deal to what he ended up signing for but sometimes life gets in the way and I was unfortunately unavailable at the time he signed.
Multiple deals were on the table at one time or another but just like in real life at the trade deadline, sometimes you run out of time to make a deal happen. I really enjoyed doing the simulation and I am thankful for the opportunity. I don't really expect the cards to go this route in the offseason, but it was fun to put my spin on the team and see how fast paced transactions can be. I will hopefully get another taste of that at the Winter Meetings this year and I am excited to see what the future holds for our Cardinals!
Let me know what you all think!