Every season at this time, the good folks over at the Royals Review host a Winter Meetings simulation where all of the SB Nation MLB sites can pretend, for a week, to run their franchise as they see fit.
Their article covers the ground rules, but essentially we try to compress an entire offseason into a week, including Qualifying Offer decisions, tendering decisions, trade decisions, free agents, and all sorts of squabbling over how literally every single team overvalues its own players.
In other words, it's exactly like the real offseason. Only instead of Jeff Luhnow, I am in charge. And instead of the dear departed David Stearns, we have Assistant GM's Jason Marbach and Idrees Tily. Let the hilarity ensue.
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First order of business: we established our max budget of $95 million. The Astros finished 2015 with $46,250,000 in 2016 contracts, $31,000,000 in arbitration commitments (2016 arb. salaries decided by the sim moderators), and about $4 million left over for league minimum contracts. That's $81 million in player payroll, and we figured $95 a reasonable place to start the season, with some room to add during the season.
Our second order of business was to buckle in for literally ONE HUNDRED ZILLION EMAILS. For realz - I'm pretty sure I was getting emails on Sunday quicker than I could read them. There's another three now. Wait, no six. Wait, FORTY. This sim thing is pretty out of control. I did it two years ago, but somehow forgot how soul-suckingly time consuming it is.
Anyway, we decided to give Colby Rasmus a qualifying offer. Why? Well, we looked at the actual free agent market for left fielders. It stinks. We can't afford Heyward (not a left fielder anyway) or Upton, and we don't really want Alex Gordon after Idrees published an article eviscerating him on Friday. The best available free agent would have been...Colby Rasmus. That $15.8 million. We're allowed to go over our suggested budget, but I'd rather play this like we think the Astros would.
We like Preston Tucker, and briefly considered finding a right-handed platoon partner for him. But really, that felt too much like putting all our eggs in one sophomore-seasoned basket, and opted against it. Tucker will still get plenty of playing time though, against right-handers.
We then non-tendered Samuel Deduno and offered arbitration contracts to all of our remaining eleigible players (Yes, including Chris Carter. We have received significant interest in Singleton as a trade piece, and that makes us comfortable playing Carter until A.J. Reed or Tyler White is ready. We may or may not have already traded Singleton actually, but since we did it before technically allowed in the Sim, that news will have to wait for tomorrow.)
That bumped our budget over $95 million. Oops. No sweat. Sorry Chad Qualls, no option for you! Back down to $93 million. Room to work!
Our next move will be to shed salary, address the bullpen a bit, and to alleviate the logjam at first base (which we may or may not have, as stated, already accomplished). Stay tuned.