Now that the season is done, I thought it might be fun to revisit our participation in the SBNation Simulated Offseason and see how well or poorly I did as the newly minted GM of the Toronto Blue Jays. Please feel free to reread the original post and refresh on the rules here: https://www.bluebirdbanter.com/2021/11/12/22774724/2021-sbnation-offseason-sim-blue-jays-edition
Due to the rules, to make the offseason workable for Max Rieper, who runs all the transactions, certain transactions were off the table. The biggest impact for the Jays was the ‘no contract extensions’ which meant the Jose Berrios extension was off the table so he’d have been playing in his walk year (his agent must have sent Atkins a fruit basket after this year). The rules impacted some other potential deals with 5 and 10 qualified players as well. Because of that, I’m not going to make a full comparison to the Jays offseason transactions directly since we were operating with very different factors involved, but I will make a few notes where I think it is relevant.
In the simulation, it focused on the normal range of transactions: non-tenders and qualifying offers on the first day, and then free agent signings and trades for the rest. It did not factor in management of the 40 man roster. And, of course, none of this includes any trades or transactions during the season. For the purpose of this exercise, I’m going to focus on bWAR results solely with the assumption that the roster remains largely intact beyond injuries. This is where I put in the giant caveat: this is just for fun. I’m well aware positional changes, playing time, luck, and all kinds of factors make this about as scientifically rigorous as any ‘what if’ scenario.
Going into the simulation, I had the following priorities: a big bat at 2B/3B, 2 starters – one being mid-rotation or better, and two quality relievers. While I was given a free hand to spend in the simulation, I decided to try and emulate Shapiro’s general philosophy, given he’d be my boss, and try to look for control in trades and spend carefully. I had also decided that internally, we would be fine with a combination of Biggio/Espinal at either second or third and that we’d focus on resigning Semien instead of Ray.
These are the results and how the season played out for each player involved in the transactions.
Barnes was in the position to earn a decent raise and was an easy choice to cut. Turns out to have been a good thing since Jacob Barnes got into 22 games for Detroit and 1 for the Yankees in 2022 for -0.3 bWAR
Total bWAR change: +0.3
Signed Archie Bradley to a one-year, $4 million deal
Archie Bradley struggled over 21 games in relief for the Angels before breaking his elbow in a brawl with the Mariners, ending his season with total of -0.4 bWAR
Signed Anthony DeSclafani to a 2 year, $20 million deal with a $10 million club option and $2 million buyout.
Can’t really say much about this deal that hasn’t been said about Kikuchi, although DeSclafani was almost as bad in a lot fewer starts. Anthony DeSclafani started just 5 games for the Giants before going down and needing tendon surgery, totalling -0.8 bWAR on the season. Hopefully he bounces back
Signed Adam Ottavino to a 1 year, $2 million deal
Finally, some good news. Ottavino had a huge rebound year with the Mets, pitching in 66 games and totalling 2.3 bWAR, the second most valuable season of his career.
Signed Marcus Semien to a 6 year, $155 million deal
This was my big offer and gamble, betting on Semien instead of going a different route with an option like Chapman. Despite a disastrous start to the season, Marcus Semien rebounded for a huge second half and provided his usual stellar defense to the tune of 4.7 bWAR
Signed Corey Dickerson, Jarrod Dyson and Chad Kuhl to minor league deals
Dickerson had almost 300Abs with St Louis, good for 0.5 bWAR. Dyson saw no major league time in 2022. Kuhl started 27 games for -0.1 bWAR. While that’s a bad number, it still covers a lot of innings. My assumption is that Dickerson would have likely been up as the lefty 5th OF and Kuhl would have been there to plug the hole when Ryu went down.
Total bWAR change: +6.2
Traded Lourdes Gurriel, Jr to the Marlins for Pablo Lopez, Steven Okert, and Zach McCambley
Gurriel had almost 500 ABs good for 1.8 bWAR. Lopez had a strong campaign but faded after the All-Star Break, logging 32 starts for 3 bWAR. Zach McCambley made 19 starts at AA but looked shaky on his promotion with control issues. Okert served as the situational lefty, pitching in 60 games for a total of 0.9 bWAR
Traded Ryan Borucki and Victor Mesia to the Padres for Adam Frazier
Borucki was picked up by Seattle and threw 25 innings between there and Toronto, good for 0.1 bWAR. Victor Mesia struggled greatly with his promotion to A ball and was demoted back down to rookie ball where he rebounded in limited at-bats. Frazier’s bat continued to decline, but his defense remained strong, good for 0.7 bWAR. We didn’t lose much value on this trade but we didn’t gain much and plugging Frazier into Gurriel’s position cost us at the plate.
Traded Anthony Kay to the Athletics for Lou Trivino
Kay got into just one game for the Jays and spent the season recovering from an injury and struggled in AAA. Trivino had a terrible front half with Oakland but rebounded after joining the Yankees to salvage his season at -0.2 bWAR.
Total bWAR change: +2.5
From a strictly transactional point of view, in isolation of all other factors, my moves in the offseason improved the team by 9 bWAR. Most of that came from the FA market with Semien and Ottavino being the best decisions, with DeSclafani and Bradley being the worst. My big trade of Gurriel was worth over 2 bWAR in overall value for the Jays with a controllable starter and a quality reliever.
My bullpen would have struggled with Bradley and Trivino, but Ottavino’s rebound and Okert paired with Mazya would have helped it likely have a similar result as the Jays current one. The outfield would have benefited from Frazier’s presence defensively, but his bat would have been buried in the nine hole all season. In many ways, Frazier (and to an extent Dickerson) would have been a slightly worse Ramiel Tapia, who cost the Jays Randel Grichuk and $5M. With Grichuk as the number 4 outfielder and Kirk’s offensive ability, it is doubtful he would have gotten any where close to the nearly 600ABs he got with the Rockies, good for a bWAR of 0.3. On the other hand, Grichuk means you’re likely not trading for Bradley Zimmer.
The biggest difference would have been Semien starting in the infield instead of Matt Chapman, and a rotation of Manoah, Berrios, Lopez, Ryu, and DeSclafani, with Stripling and Kuhl coming into the rotation after DeSclafani and Ryu’s injuries. The other important thing is that my prospect depth is almost entirely untouched, opening up possibilities for the 2022 off-season.
So, I’m taking it as a win. Not great, some missteps and missed opportunities, and if Semien hadn’t turned it around, it’s a much worse picture. This team I think could make a similar run to the playoffs, maybe down further in the WC standings. So you likely don’t want me as your GM, but I think I managed to keep the team on track.
Finally, Max Rieper runs this simulation every off season, so if you’re interested in jumping into the GMs chair for the Toronto Blue Jays for 2022, let Tom know for when it comes around. I stumbled my way to a middling result. Are you the one who can bring in the blockbusters or face disaster? Only one way to find out…