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The SB Nation Baseball Winter Meetings Simulation Has Begun!

Over at the SB Nation Kansas City Royals blog Royals Review, all of the SB Nation baseball blogs are participating in a winter meetings simulation, and Fish Stripes is representing the Miami Marlins in style!


Remember a few weeks ago when I laid out a plan for the Miami Marlins this offseason and it was promptly destroyed by the mammoth mega-trade between the Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays? It seems the good folks at the SB Nation Kansas City Royals blog Royals Review have allowed Marlins fans a do-over on the offseason in the form of the SB Nation Winter Meetings Simulation, which you can find here.

Here is the description of the simulation as sent to us by the man running it, RoyalsRetro.

Have you ever wanted to run your favorite team? Well here is your chance. I am putting together a baseball off-season simulation to run for one week. YOU will be in charge of making trades, YOU will be in charge of signing free agents and YOU will feel the wrath of your fans for overpaying for replacement level talent! Sound like fun? Here are the details.

The Timeline:
Monday, December 3, 9am ET - Simulation begins - teams can trade, negotiate/sign free agents
Monday, December 3, 5pm ET - All club (or mutual) options for players must be picked up or declined. Declined options go into the free agent pool.
Wednesday, December 5, 5pm ET - All arbitration-eligible players must be tendered or non-tendered. Non-tendered players go into the free agent pool.
Friday, December 7, 1pm ET - Simulation ends
Ground Rules:
-The assumption is your GM has resigned and has tapped you as his replacement. You do not need to continue the organizational philosophy of that GM. You are free to mold your own team!
-We will reset back to the end of the season. So assume Heath Bell is still a Marlin, Chris Young still a Diamondback, Mike Aviles still a Red Sock.
-Your budget is what you realistically think your owner is willing to pay. I leave this at your discretion with your only enforcement being your fans calling you out for not being realistic. If you are the Cubs and want to go in a different direction than Theo Epstein and spend some money, that is realistic. If you are the Royals and think you can convince David Glass to spend $100 million on payroll, this is not realistic. Use Cot's Contracts for contract info and payroll projections -
-Do not worry about the 40 man roster. Assume you can DFA some scrub to make room for any of your moves.
-You will make trades with other GMs in the simulation. When you have agreed on a trade, report it to me and I will post it on the transaction page. No backsies.
-Players with no-trade clauses cannot be traded (this includes players with 10-5 rights). Players with limited no-trade clauses can be traded, but I reserve the right to veto it if I think the player would not accept the trade
-Players taken in the 2012 draft are not eligible to be traded
-Draft picks cannot be traded EXCEPT draft lottery picks (like the one the Marlins acquired in the Gaby Sanchez deal).
-Trades must list every player traded. You cannot simply say "B- type prospect". Do not trade "players to be named later" (this is only a week-long simulation)
-Cash may be involved in trades although you must list how much. Players can be traded for cash straight up, although I reserve the right to veto a trade if I think it is unrealistic.
-You will sign free agents by negotiating with Max (er, Scott Boras)
-Free agent contracts cannot be backloaded or frontloaded. Assume the average annual value of the contract goes towards your 2013 budget.
-You may offer club options, player options and mutual options to entice a player.
-I will typically take the best offer, although not always (a player will not choose Pittsburgh over New York if the money is similar. Pittsburgh, you better overpay!)
-Remember, it is a negotiation. I will counter-offer.
Eligible free agents will be from this list (although we will add players with options and non-tenders). You can offer a deal to anyone on this list.
-For mutual options, assume all players will accept if you accept, except Adam LaRoche, Ryan Ludwick, and Sean Burnett (all three will opt-out). For player options, assume Jorge de la Rosa picks up his option, but Rafael Soriano does not. For vesting options, neither Alex Gonzalez or Brett Myers options vested, so teams have the option to pick up or decline those options.
-Remember, buyouts for declined options go into your 2013 budget
-After negotiating, once I have accepted a firm offer from a team, I will post the signing on the transaction page

This means only one thing for you Fish Stripes readers: for the next five days, I get to live out the dream of being the Marlins' general manager!

As mentioned in our offseason plan, the Miami Marlins are in something of a transition period, not quite in full-on rebuilding (as the real Marlins apparently believe) nor in full-on aggressive acquisition mode. So because of that, my plan for the team will consist of an attempt to sign one or two free agents who can assist the ball club in areas of need combined with a trading of high-end salaries and players whom the Marlins will only control for one more year.

To that end, the simulation has already begun with earnest, as I have pulled off three salary-cutting trades that have opened up significant space in the Marlins' 2013 payroll.

1) The Miami Marlins trade Ricky Nolasco, A.J. Ramos, and $4 million to the Milwaukee Brewers in return for right-handed pitcher Wily Peralta and second baseman Scooter Gennett

My first priority was to cut Ricky Nolasco's salary if possible from the roster, and I was able to find a willing trade partner in the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers were interested in Nolasco, but were concerned about the lack of team control, as Nolasco had only one year of team control remaining. Since the Brewers were looking for major league relief help as well, the negotiations eventually came down to including one of either A.J. Ramos or Tom Koehler along with some salary relief, and I reluctantly accepted sending a young up-and-coming bullpen prospect in Ramos to receive the return package.

The best part of the deal was receiving Wily Peralta, who was regarded as the Brewers' top prospect heading into 2012. The Marlins got Peralta following a struggle in Triple-A in 2012, but with Minor League Ball's John Sickels saying Peralta still had a chance to be a mid-rotation starter, I could not pass up six years of team control of a decent pitching prospect. Gennett is a second baseman who just finished a respectable season in Double-A at age 22, so he is progressing as expected with a decent glove and left-handed bat. He adds depth to a position in which the Marlins have little talent.

2) The Miami Marlins trade Josh Johnson and Emilio Bonifacio to the Toronto Blue Jays for starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard, outfielder Jake Marisnick, and shortstop Yunel Escobar

In a trade that is somewhat reminiscent of the actual Blue Jays deal, the Marlins acquired two of the players in the real trade and a better pitching prospect in Syndergaard in return for just Johnson and Bonifacio. This accomplishes some of what the Fish wanted in trading Johnson for value in a season in which the team was not likely to compete.

The Bonifacio / Escobar swap is essentially a play for upside, as Escobar is older but has one more season of team control at a reasonable rate. Bonifacio was not a part of the team's long-term plans, so trading him for someone with the potential for a three- or four-win season seemed like a good move, especially for similar salaries.

3) The Miami Marlins trade John Buck and $2 million to the Pittsburgh Pirates for relief pitcher Bryan Morris

This trade was a mere salary dump, as the Marlins wanted to be rid of most of Buck's salary and get something minor in return. Morris is team-controlled for six seasons, is 25 years old, and slots right into the spot Ramos left in the Nolasco trade.

These three trades open up almost $28 million in 2013 salaries, and the Marlins can now use that money to pursue free agents. As you can tell, the team still has a hole at second base (Escobar will slide over to third base as part of his acquisition) and in the outfield, along with a spot open in the rotation. The Marlins will consider at least one outfielder and a starting pitcher on a low-commitment contract, but the process of negotiations has just begun.

Here at Fish Stripes, we will keep you posted on both the real baseball winter meetings and the simulation as it happens. Keep an eye out for all the moves made in the next few days over at MLB Daily Dish. For the sim, keep your eyes locked on the winter meetings simulation thread.