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Should the Angels add a top tier bat in addition to arms?


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Adding this little tidbit on to my idea of bringing in Donaldson...

He hasn't slowed down as the season has continued either - slashing .277/.420/.623/1.043 in the second half. 

  • First half: 21 doubles, 18 HR, 49 BB, 92 K in 363 PA - .296 BAbip
  • 2nd half: 9 doubles, 19 HR, 45 BB, 54 K in 238 PA - .288 BAbip

Pretty dramatic increase in HR and decrease in strikeouts in the second half. 

Closing in on 40 HR and 100 BB to go with 30 doubles and 88 RBI.

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This team needs pitching, pitching and more pitching.  End of story. Let LaStella and Fletcher play full time at 2B/3B as they both have earned it and are cheap.  The only offense upgrade that th

I agree that Arte should nut up.  Do we really want the best player in a generation to never win a playoff game? Frankly that whole narrative is pissing me off and even though it's ignorant, the

after a lot of thought and detailed analysis, I think we need better players for next year than we had this year.  

27 minutes ago, RBM said:

This is absolutely the most salient point of the 2019 season. The SP plan did not work out.

The 2020 SP plan must work out. I think it is job #1. I really like the idea of adding a guy like Donaldson but only after we address the starting pitching rotation so to me it's the third priority.

1. Starting pitcher. 2. Starting pitcher. 3. Third baseman/Catcher.

I wait until the next offseason to pursue catching. Zunino, Realmuto, and McCann all set to hit open market. Cozart and maybe Simmons off the books for that.

Grandal feels like he’s about to hit his first decline at his age, his second half has already been down - still very good for Angels catchers as an OPS around .775, but I’m real leery that he’s about to cycle down. A lot of good catchers have a noticeable trend down at his age - really good catchers will eventually crawl back up, but there’s usually a little dip in production around 30-32 no matter how good you are. 

Edit: I would pursue someone like Avila or Maldonado to split with Stassi in '20, cut Smith, and leave Bemboom on the roster as the optionable 3rd stringer so we don't have to DFA someone like Garneau, or roll with Stassi/Smith if we did amp up the offense by adding Donaldson and keeping La Stella/Goodwin.

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Machete is terrible offensively, he had a few hot months then nothing. Stassi seems built the same. Smith is under arbitration control and likely won't get a huge raise so he'll be back. Grandal is a decent option. The power would be nice.

The infield is crowded, especially with Cozart and La Stella coming back.

Calhoun is going to hit 30 HR. I don't think they'll cut him. They may trade him, if they can find a suitor, but otherwise he might be back for one more run in Anaheim.

The budget pretty much gets capped after that for offensive help.

 

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1 hour ago, nate said:

I don't see them going after a 3b.  The infield is already crowded, especially with the return of La Stella.

Catcher is a yearly need along with pitching though.  Would be nice to stabilize that position.  Should have brought back Machete imo.

It's crowded, no doubt, but at best, Rengifo, Thaiss, Ward, Walsh, Rojas, and Fletcher maybe project to .800 OPS season if they have a big year. Donaldson has been a solid ~.950 OPS guy in his last four healthy years, and in his injury-shortened year, he still managed an .800 OPS and a .920 OPS after returning from injury. 

Similarly, not one infielder on the farm (in the org?) projects to have that aside from perhaps Maitan or Jackson and they're years away. The upside of our infielders up and down the org maybe tops out at a slightly above-average hitter in the .750-.800 OPS range. We have a lot of talent there, but nothing beyond average MLBer for the most part. Donaldson checks a big box, even with the risk, and it frees us up to trade from that glut of IF prospects, or even consider trading Simmons for 2020 pitching help, both clearing money and bringing in arms in one deal, as Donaldson's defense at 3B (at least for one season) helps mitigate that tremendous defensive loss a little bit. Say Donaldson can maintain, Adell breaks out, and La Stella picks up where he left off, the offense should be absolutely insane and simply adding a trade SP and a top FA SP with Ohtani might do the trick.

Next offseason's catching FA list has my eye...

  • Realmuto will be 30 in 2021, and is hitting.282/.333/.504/.837 with a 111 OPS+ and 34 doubles, 24 HR, 48% CS% for the Phillies this year
  • Zunino will also be 30, and is hitting an awful .170/.239/.324/.563 this year with a 49 OPS+,  but has a 44% CS for Tampa this year, and had a nice .223/.300/.462/.763, 20 HR on average run the three years before.
  • McCann will be 31, and is hitting .274/.327/.458/.785, OPS+ of 108 in a breakout season, and a 32% CS%

I'll cross my fingers that Reed/Wooten can overhaul Stassi this winter like they did Calhoun and La Stella and hope the defense impresses - if not, we can shop next offseason. We need the Grandal money for pitching or a safer source of offense.

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This thread is a cool fantasy, but I really don’t believe the Angels have the financial or trade resources to get any sort of impact bat. They need 2 starting pitchers, and not cheap ones either. 

Everyone would love to have more of everything, but you have to prioritize. 

Anyway, carry on....

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16 minutes ago, totdprods said:

It's crowded, no doubt, but at best, Rengifo, Thaiss, Ward, Walsh, Rojas, and Fletcher maybe project to .800 OPS season if they have a big year. Donaldson has been a solid ~.950 OPS guy in his last four healthy years, and in his injury-shortened year, he still managed an .800 OPS and a .920 OPS after returning from injury. 

Similarly, not one infielder on the farm (in the org?) projects to have that aside from perhaps Maitan or Jackson and they're years away. The upside of our infielders up and down the org maybe tops out at a slightly above-average hitter in the .750-.800 OPS range. We have a lot of talent there, but nothing beyond average MLBer for the most part. Donaldson checks a big box, even with the risk, and it frees us up to trade from that glut of IF prospects, or even consider trading Simmons for 2020 pitching help, both clearing money and bringing in arms in one deal, as Donaldson's defense at 3B (at least for one season) helps mitigate that tremendous defensive loss a little bit. Say Donaldson can maintain, Adell breaks out, and La Stella picks up where he left off, the offense should be absolutely insane and simply adding a trade SP and a top FA SP with Ohtani might do the trick.

Next offseason's catching FA list has my eye...

  • Realmuto will be 30 in 2021, and is hitting.282/.333/.504/.837 with a 111 OPS+ and 34 doubles, 24 HR, 48% CS% for the Phillies this year
  • Zunino will also be 30, and is hitting an awful .170/.239/.324/.563 this year with a 49 OPS+,  but has a 44% CS for Tampa this year, and had a nice .223/.300/.462/.763, 20 HR on average run the three years before.
  • McCann will be 31, and is hitting .274/.327/.458/.785, OPS+ of 108 in a breakout season, and a 32% CS%

I'll cross my fingers that Reed/Wooten can overhaul Stassi this winter like they did Calhoun and La Stella and hope the defense impresses - if not, we can shop next offseason. We need the Grandal money for pitching or a safer source of offense.

Donaldson is too old.  Would be very foolish to sign him.  And you can't get 800+ ops from every position in the batting order.  La Stella/Simba/Fletcher/Pujols or Thaiss is more than adequate for an infield.  Especially when the pitching is an absolute dumpster fire.

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I would be absolutely shocked if the position players on the 25 man roster next year are not

Trout

Upton

Goodwin and either Adell or Hermosillo

Pujols

Fletcher

Simba

La Stella

Rengifo

Thaiss

Stassi/some dumpster dive

Plus Ohtani

There is a chance that Eppler brings in an infielder like Bour or a veteran backup outfielder to platoon with Goodwin if they aren't sold on Adell yet, but I would be shocked if they spend any actual money on a position player

 

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33 minutes ago, Jeff Fletcher said:

This thread is a cool fantasy, but I really don’t believe the Angels have the financial or trade resources to get any sort of impact bat. They need 2 starting pitchers, and not cheap ones either. 

Everyone would love to have more of everything, but you have to prioritize. 

Anyway, carry on....

Thanks for your insight Jeff - haven't said it in awhile and it's always due. 

Most of this feeling just stems from a notion that Eppler's solution this offseason is to just sign ~$40m worth of mostly long-term pitching seems very...unimaginative...for how he usually operates.
I know the pitching is a garbage fire and the kids have underwhelmed to date, but they weren't supposed to be getting anything more than spot-starts this season. 
On top of Heaney, Ohtani, and Pena, we have Canning, Sandoval, Barria, Suarez, and Peters already on the 40-man. Gohara is a question mark. Rodriguez, Yan, Soriano, and Beasley all have to be added next winter to be protected from the R5. Madero and Ortega could be factors.
It hasn't produced for us yet, but that's a ton of young pitching that should produce at least 2-3 productive arms as soon as 2020, and I don't want to see another scenario where we're waiting three years for vet arms to come off, like Weaver and Wilson.

I also realize that one other option is signing a top arm, skipping a mid-tier arm, and then rounding it out with cheaper, one-year arms to leave room for rookies, but that skirts dangerously close to relying on Cahill/Harvey types again...

Donaldson at $18-$20m AAV for 2-3 years feels a little more appealing to me than $12m-$18m on a Keuchel, Wheeler, Odorizzi, Bumgarner even with our needs. And again, a Donaldson signing would in no way be Priority 1. He'd come after we sign the best possible FA SP, be it Cole, Ryu, Hamels, or even Bumgarner or Wheeler (as a main guy, not as a second) and counting on the kids to continue to improve, Heaney to REALLY step it up, and perhaps a savvy trade to complete the rotation. And if it fails, next year's mid-to-upper tier FA SP class is way more appealing to me than this year's, much like how by signing Harvey/Cahill this last winter instead of Sanchez, Happ, or Eovaldi left rotation/salary open enough to pursue Cole this year.

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10 hours ago, totdprods said:

Thanks for your insight Jeff - haven't said it in awhile and it's always due. 

Most of this feeling just stems from a notion that Eppler's solution this offseason is to just sign ~$40m worth of mostly long-term pitching seems very...unimaginative...for how he usually operates.
I know the pitching is a garbage fire and the kids have underwhelmed to date, but they weren't supposed to be getting anything more than spot-starts this season. 
On top of Heaney, Ohtani, and Pena, we have Canning, Sandoval, Barria, Suarez, and Peters already on the 40-man. Gohara is a question mark. Rodriguez, Yan, Soriano, and Beasley all have to be added next winter to be protected from the R5. Madero and Ortega could be factors.
It hasn't produced for us yet, but that's a ton of young pitching that should produce at least 2-3 productive arms as soon as 2020, and I don't want to see another scenario where we're waiting three years for vet arms to come off, like Weaver and Wilson.

I also realize that one other option is signing a top arm, skipping a mid-tier arm, and then rounding it out with cheaper, one-year arms to leave room for rookies, but that skirts dangerously close to relying on Cahill/Harvey types again...

Donaldson at $18-$20m AAV for 2-3 years feels a little more appealing to me than $12m-$18m on a Keuchel, Wheeler, Odorizzi, Bumgarner even with our needs. And again, a Donaldson signing would in no way be Priority 1. He'd come after we sign the best possible FA SP, be it Cole, Ryu, Hamels, or even Bumgarner or Wheeler (as a main guy, not as a second) and counting on the kids to continue to improve, Heaney to REALLY step it up, and perhaps a savvy trade to complete the rotation. And if it fails, next year's mid-to-upper tier FA SP class is way more appealing to me than this year's, much like how by signing Harvey/Cahill this last winter instead of Sanchez, Happ, or Eovaldi left rotation/salary open enough to pursue Cole this year.

You seem to be more confident in the Angels young pitchers (Sandoval, Suarez, etc) than their young hitters (Rengifo, Thaiss, Adell, etc). 

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I've read the entire thread and there have been some very intriguing ideas. 1 problem nobody seems to be mentioning is, we're still stuck with Cozart. Unless the Angels plan on releasing him they're stuck with him at 3rd next year. Assuming he can play more then 30 games next year. Our offense isn't the problem though, we've ranked top 10 in the AL most of the year and personally I'd like to see the money spent on 2 big name pitchers. We have the prospects to trade for a bat during the season if needed.

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9 hours ago, Jeff Fletcher said:

You seem to be more confident in the Angels young pitchers (Sandoval, Suarez, etc) than their young hitters (Rengifo, Thaiss, Adell, etc). 

Well, actually, I sort of am - and am actually pretty confident in both. 

First - let me preface by saying:

  • 1) The Angels no doubt need to sign the best arm they can this offseason before anything else 
  • 2) I'm a little different in that I see the next two seasons and offseasons as our evaluation window for the future - in my mind, 2020 is not a make-or-break for Eppler or the Angels, and it was to be Year One of the new Trout Years - 2020-2030.

This board has PTSD when it comes to pitching - rightfully so - but a couple other things we should consider...

  • Eppler's best pitchers this season? Came from within (Canning, Heaney), a waiver claim (Pena), and a minor trade (Peters)
  • And his worst were through free agency (Cahill, Harvey, Allen) and they did not even meet the fairly low expectations we had - league average SPs was worst-case scenario I think we as fans and Eppler expected. 
  • Because of this, I cringe when I see everyone saying we should solve our rotation woes by signing two or three arms. 
    • Eppler's track record isn't great there - even two of the guys he wanted to sign and didn't, Happ and Eovaldi, would've backfired.
    • Free agents are expensive and jam up payroll and playing time - Eppler has built this team to contend 2020-2030, not just 2020-2021 - and it seems counterproductive to clog up playing time with so many young arms in play.

Also...
The Angels had a truly awful pitching staff the first-half of the year and an amazing offense:

  • Angels top 9 hitters, Opening Day through July 24th (the day before the Baltimore series) were hitting a collective .275/.345/.474/.819 - everyone was .750 OPS or better except Simmons (.699) and Lucroy (.671)
  • Skaggs, Cahill, Harvey, Heaney, Pena, Barria, Stratton, and Canning made up the rotation - with 5.59 ERA in 95 'starts'
  • They were 54-49.

Since then?
The Angels rotation has relied on the youngsters and they've done no worse, maybe even been slightly better, at preventing runs.

  • Peters, Suarez, Barria, Heaney, Sandoval, Canning have a 5.38 ERA in 43 'starts' - and probably better had Pena and Canning stayed healthy.
  • The offense though? Way down. The top nine hitters are slashing .238/.330/.440/.770 with five hitters below .750 - Thaiss, Upton, Fletcher, Calhoun, and Rengifo, all guys we are counting on next year.
  • They've gone 13-31...despite the rotation's ERA dropping (again, minimally) with the bullpen really taking a step back too.

And here's why I think improving both pitching and hitting should be one of the options - personally, I'd still prefer a major signing, a major trade, and another very minor FA signing/trade as the first route. Go all-in on pitching, but don't destroy payroll.

The Angels managed to contend most of this season with a god-awful rotation and an offense that mostly returns next year. I'm not sure they can completely fix the rotation by signing 2-3 arms. Odds are, one of those guys underwhelms or winds up injured. Possibly both arms.
The offense though is balanced and deep - and should get better with Adell ascending and more development particularly from Thaiss and Rengifo. If you add a very good bat like Donaldson, you double-down on a real strength that already was keeping us in contention even with a terrible pitching staff that's now mostly turned over. And it's a strength that's winnowed a bit as the season went on. Meanwhile, the arms it that the rotation was turned over to are our future - and they've pitched better than the first-half rotation, and while only minimally, you'd have to think that with their age, they'll improve from there. How much? Unknown...and that's why I mentioned that I see the next two years as our evaluation window. 2020 shouldn't be the end of Eppler's audition. He built us to this point. 

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25 minutes ago, TheUPSman said:

I've read the entire thread and there have been some very intriguing ideas. 1 problem nobody seems to be mentioning is, we're still stuck with Cozart. Unless the Angels plan on releasing him they're stuck with him at 3rd next year. Assuming he can play more then 30 games next year. Our offense isn't the problem though, we've ranked top 10 in the AL most of the year and personally I'd like to see the money spent on 2 big name pitchers. We have the prospects to trade for a bat during the season if needed.

My bet is that if Cozart breaks camp with the team, he'll be in the Cliff Pennington role, with the biggest drawback being it means either Thaiss or Rengifo likely go to AAA.

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1 hour ago, totdprods said:

Well, actually, I sort of am - and am actually pretty confident in both. 

First - let me preface by saying:

  • 1) The Angels no doubt need to sign the best arm they can this offseason before anything else 
  • 2) I'm a little different in that I see the next two seasons and offseasons as our evaluation window for the future - in my mind, 2020 is not a make-or-break for Eppler or the Angels, and it was to be Year One of the new Trout Years - 2020-2030.

This board has PTSD when it comes to pitching - rightfully so - but a couple other things we should consider...

  • Eppler's best pitchers this season? Came from within (Canning, Heaney), a waiver claim (Pena), and a minor trade (Peters)
  • And his worst were through free agency (Cahill, Harvey, Allen) and they did not even meet the fairly low expectations we had - league average SPs was worst-case scenario I think we as fans and Eppler expected. 
  • Because of this, I cringe when I see everyone saying we should solve our rotation woes by signing two or three arms. 
    • Eppler's track record isn't great there - even two of the guys he wanted to sign and didn't, Happ and Eovaldi, would've backfired.
    • Free agents are expensive and jam up payroll and playing time - Eppler has built this team to contend 2020-2030, not just 2020-2021 - and it seems counterproductive to clog up playing time with so many young arms in play.

Also...
The Angels had a truly awful pitching staff the first-half of the year and an amazing offense:

  • Angels top 9 hitters, Opening Day through July 24th (the day before the Baltimore series) were hitting a collective .275/.345/.474/.819 - everyone was .750 OPS or better except Simmons (.699) and Lucroy (.671)
  • Skaggs, Cahill, Harvey, Heaney, Pena, Barria, Stratton, and Canning made up the rotation - with 5.59 ERA in 95 'starts'
  • They were 54-49.

Since then?
The Angels rotation has relied on the youngsters and they've done no worse, maybe even been slightly better, at preventing runs.

  • Peters, Suarez, Barria, Heaney, Sandoval, Canning have a 5.38 ERA in 43 'starts' - and probably better had Pena and Canning stayed healthy.
  • The offense though? Way down. The top nine hitters are slashing .238/.330/.440/.770 with five hitters below .750 - Thaiss, Upton, Fletcher, Calhoun, and Rengifo, all guys we are counting on next year.
  • They've gone 13-31...despite the rotation's ERA dropping (again, minimally) with the bullpen really taking a step back too.

And here's why I think improving both pitching and hitting should be one of the options - personally, I'd still prefer a major signing, a major trade, and another very minor FA signing/trade as the first route. Go all-in on pitching, but don't destroy payroll.

The Angels managed to contend most of this season with a god-awful rotation and an offense that mostly returns next year. I'm not sure they can completely fix the rotation by signing 2-3 arms. Odds are, one of those guys underwhelms or winds up injured. Possibly both arms.
The offense though is balanced and deep - and should get better with Adell ascending and more development particularly from Thaiss and Rengifo. If you add a very good bat like Donaldson, you double-down on a real strength that already was keeping us in contention even with a terrible pitching staff that's now mostly turned over. And it's a strength that's winnowed a bit as the season went on. Meanwhile, the arms it that the rotation was turned over to are our future - and they've pitched better than the first-half rotation, and while only minimally, you'd have to think that with their age, they'll improve from there. How much? Unknown...and that's why I mentioned that I see the next two years as our evaluation window. 2020 shouldn't be the end of Eppler's audition. He built us to this point. 

Eppler has done just as badly with his everyday acquisitions: Cozart, Lucroy, Espinosa, Nava, Joyce (although Yunel Escobar was fine).

The issue isn’t really that Eppler is better at evaluating one or the other. The issue is that the Angels farm system has sucked so much it’s left too many holes, meaning you can’t afford to shop at the top of the market but at the middle and bottom. 

The vast majority of players available in the middle and bottom just aren’t that good. That’s why they’re available. 

So you’re much better off adding two big ones from the top than trying to stretch for three. 

They can add about $37Mish. They need two pitchers. If one of the pitchers is Cole, it’s going to be hard enough to squeeze in another Wheeler or Odorizzi, and impossible to squeeze in a Grandal, Donaldson or Rendon.

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$37 million isn't a lot. If they backload a contract to Cole that still leaves like...$17 million, maybe. 

I know it's Arte's money and he's been willing to spend overall, but now more than ever he really should push the payroll to the limit. Or over it. 

As Jeff said, we need TWO starters. But that shouldn't be Cole and a guy like Cahill because "muh tax threshold". F*ck that.

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36 minutes ago, Jeff Fletcher said:

They can add about $37Mish. They need two pitchers. If one of the pitchers is Cole, it’s going to be hard enough to squeeze in another Wheeler or Odorizzi, and impossible to squeeze in a Grandal, Donaldson or Rendon.

This is why ultimately, I feel a trade is the best route to securing that second arm (after Cole or whomever top dog is) as it should (depending on salary of pitcher received or any bad contracts eaten to facilitate) leave enough wiggle room with whatever the money leftover is for other needs - rotation depth, catcher, bullpen, or a bat.

Of that $37m they have, committing $18m-~$30m of it for Cole, Ryu, Bumgarner, Hamels, maybe Wheeler if he's lucky to get that much, is a risk we have to take. I don't think you can get two of those names for $37m - you might, but I'd worry about the overall commitment and how it impacts overall payroll - ability to sign other needs, ability to re-sign Simmons, preventing us from strong FA SP and C class after '20, preventing us from very strong FA class after '21.

Committing the remaining $7m-$19m on any combination of Keuchel, Hill, Odorizzi, Pineda, Wacha, Roark, Anderson, Gibson, Wood, Miley, Gio, Porcello is the gamble that I question being the right choice, despite our egregious need for pitching, especially with another strong SP class in FA next offseason, some signs of optimism from our kid pitchers, and a couple mild warning signs on the offense. 

That's what ultimately led me to Cole (or next best) back-loaded plus Donaldson, a trade involving displaced IFs for the second SP, and then minor deals like non-tenders (Pena, Trop, Ramirezes, Smith, Garcia) or La Stella/Goodwin/Robles/Bedrosian to finagle out a few more mil of payroll - instead of two most expensive arms and calling it a day.

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16 minutes ago, totdprods said:

I don't think you can get two of those names for $37m

They're gonna have to get creative with backloading, I suspect. 

Also, maybe they'll decide to extend Simmons and backload him, too. (Remember they chopped $5M off Upton's 2018 salary when he got his extension.) Simmons is supposed to make $15M next year. Maybe they rip that up and turn it into 4/60, paying him something like $13-$13-$17-$17 (the last 2 after Pujols is gone). They also could trade La Stella and save about $3M. Those two moves create $5M for 2020, so that's $42M for Cole ($25M) and Wheeler ($17M).

Easy peasy.

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5 minutes ago, Jeff Fletcher said:

They're gonna have to get creative with backloading, I suspect. 

Also, maybe they'll decide to extend Simmons and backload him, too. (Remember they chopped $5M off Upton's 2018 salary when he got his extension.) Simmons is supposed to make $15M next year. Maybe they rip that up and turn it into 4/60, paying him something like $13-$13-$17-$17 (the last 2 after Pujols is gone). They also could trade La Stella and save about $3M. Those two moves create $5M for 2020, so that's $42M for Cole ($25M) and Wheeler ($17M).

Easy peasy.

It can certainly be done with some creativity - that’s why I floated Cole and Donaldson for comparable dollars, imagining a similar scenario to free up money - though I didn’t consider the Simmons idea.

The easy peasy part that concerns me is beating out other teams for both of those pitchers and keeping salary around that point. And of the pitchers available. I just don’t want sign two FA SPs becoming Odorizzi and Keuchel instead of Cole and Wheeler because that was the easiest config with FA dollars. 

Really, Donaldson isn’t even the main appeal to me, he’s just the lone offensive upgrade I see that could make sense in a very specific scenario. I’d still prefer to sign a top arm and trade for another, with some room to breathe for other minor needs or space in payroll at the trade deadline. But I know we’re also in a tight spot because we don’t exactly have enough prospects yet who are 1) expendable and 2) valued enough to land that second SP. We’re close, but this offseason might be a half-season or full season away from being able to make that deal - which again takes me back to wanting to keep things flexible for both a bat and an arm addition in the next ~12 months. 

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I still think Wheeler is going to get less than Eovaldi.  like 3/42.  Maybe 3/48.  Then you could pay him 14, 16, 18

I'd also rather see them move on from JC Ramirez, Garcia and Bour if they want to save some additional money.  That's about 7m in savings from those three guys.  Restructure Simmons and you've got an additional 10m.  

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