The Miami Marlins traded yet another piece yesterday evening in sending out Yunel Escobar, the team's expected third baseman in 2013, to the Tampa Bay Rays for minor leaguer Derek DIetrich. While Marlins fans did not have close to enough time to get attached to Escobar (and given his character issues, it is a question whether fans would have even warmed up to him), they still have to be a little disappointed in the light return.
If you are one of those Marlins fans, you may need some light-hearted, simulated fun during the offseason. That is part of the reason why the SB Nation Winter Meetings Simulation is here to help. As you will recall, we had representatives from each of the 30 SB Nation baseball team blogs, myself included, simulate baseball moves for this week. There have been some major trades between teams, with a number of clubs making earth-shattering moves in the last two days. It has been truly exciting to be a part of this fun process, and the week is only halfway done. The fake Miami Marlins still have time to build their 2013 team.
When we last left off, I had cleared a number of players from the team's salary, particularly three players with only one season remaining as Marlins. I figured that Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, and John Buck would not be returning to the organization in 2014, so I got as much value as I could out of those players. In return for trading them and Emilio Bonifacio, my fake Marlins received prospects Noah Syndergaard and Jake Marisnick along with Yunel Escobar from the Toronto Blue Jays, prospects Wily Peralta and Scooter Gennett from the Milwaukee Brewers, and reliever Bryan Morris from the Pittsburgh Pirates. The return shed an estimated $22.25 million is salary in 2012, and my fake Miami Marlins got to work using that money with some free agent signings.
1. Miami Marlins sign Angel Pagan to a four-year, $60 million deal
I know what you are thinking. "Michael paid too much money for Pagan!"
Hear me out. The free agent market for outfielders had gotten extremely expensive, and the fake Marlins did not want to squeezed out. Melky Cabrera, who had been a prime target for the Fish, was taken away by the fake Blue Jays for four years and $60 million as well after a mid-afternoon bidding war between the two teams escalated in years and money. The Marlins had just also offered a four-year deal to Pagan at $13 million annually, and in fear of the market exploding on the team, the Fish upped the ante to $15 million a season.
Now, considering that Pagan actually signed for $10 million a year just recently. this seems like major overpay. But with how the market has shaped up, it is very possible that this ends up being the value for the high-end outfielders like Michael Bourn and potentially B.J. Upton, who have yet to sign with a team. With a player like Cabrera, coming off of a controversial season, getting the same value on a contract, it is very possible that the price of outfielders jumped badly during the day.
In addition, the price does not come off as absurd for Pagan. Last season, Pagan was rated as four- or five-win player with the San Francisco Giants, with an average of 4.6 adjusted Wins Above Replacement between the three major metrics. In his last three seasons, he averaged 3.3 rWAR per 600 PA, and that includes a down season in 2011. Given a reasonable estimate of 3.5 wins in 2013 and normal half-win per season decline, you can see Pagan producing 11 wins over the four seasons with the Fish, or about 2.8 wins per year. If you look at last season's market and assume some inflation up to $5 million per win starting this year, the value of his contribution should be about $59 million over the life of the deal, almost exactly matching his $60 million offered by the fake Marlins.
The Fish now have secured their center field position for the foreseeable future, thus allowing the team a good defender at the position for the first time in a while and giving them time to develop their prospects like Marisnick and Marcell Ozuna.
2. Miami Marlins sign Gerald Laird to a two-year contract worth $4 million
The fake Marlins did not tender Brett Hayes a contract, meaning the team was going to be in need of a backup catcher who could spell Rob Brantly against left-handed pitching. Enter Gerald Laird, who has an excellent defensive reputation (though his numbers as of late suggest otherwise) but a terrible offensive one. Presumably, this move by the fake Marlins assures them a backup for the next two years, and Laird is at least unlikely to desire a starting spot or extra playing time in the future. The Fish did not get a great pickup here, but for a backup, you could do worse than Laird.
The fake Marlins have yet to finish their moves. They filled up $17 million of the $22 million they cleared by trading one-year contracts, but the team still has a spot open in their rotation that, as you will see tomorrow, has been filled on the third day of the winter meetings simulation by a very intriguing upside name on a short-term deal. Overall, without the latest pitcher addition to be discussed tomorrow, the fake Marlins are at a payroll of $69.4 million including pre-arbitration players.
The team may also continue to look to trade Heath Bell by any means necessary, but the team still has two and a half days remaining to figure out how to accomplish this before reality sets in and this version of the Miami Marlins disappears. Rest assured, however, that I am on the job trying to make the 2013 Marlins better.