I have been running the Charlotte Aviators, and it has been a struggle for the most part. The game deals with everything like payrolls, budgets, scouting, drafting, etc etc... I have been finding out that running a 'small market team' is simply not easy. We avoided 100 losses during our 2018 expansion season (losing 98), and we were projected to improve by 13 games I believe... instead we went the opposite direction and lost 117 games!
Lucky for me, my team got a new owner and I wasn't fired (oh yeah, you can get fired in this game as well)... so it's onto Year 3 (2020) with new owner in hand. The new owner set new goals, play close to .500 ball by 2020, increase attendance to 46,200 per game by 2023 & build up the team to reach the playoffs by 2025. All are lofty goals, but i'm not one to give up.
So Year 3...
I decided to start with the big elephant in the room in my star Japanese player Koson Yamauchi, who has been doing his part by producing, but for a small market team ranging from $55-$62 million a year, a $20.47 million-a-year player is just not going to cut it.
Yamauchi batted .282 with 32 HR & 88 RBI (.933 OPS) for the Aviators in 2018, while struggling with injuries in 2019 (.284, 17 HR, 59 RBI & .865 OPS in 92 games). So I knocked on the door of a team that is well-known for not taking on some more payroll, the New York Yankees (who else?!). To put it in perspective, how good the Yankees have it, their payroll is currently at $155,752,857 & they are still shopping with $36.5 million to spare.
I traded them Yamauchi, along with RP-Matt Purke & P-Burch Smith in exchange for OF-Scott Schebler, and prospects in P-Chance Adams & OF-Brandon Boissiere.
By the way, those Yankees now have SS-Gleyber Torres batting 2nd, 3B-Manny Machado batting 3rd, Yamauchi batting 4th, with Aaron Judge batting 5th & Gary Sanchez batting 6th!
That helped shed some payroll, so I can try to make a splash at an ace in either Gerrit Cole or Sonny Gray, but both will be pricey. So I went for a backup option, by trading for Robbie Erlin, who by no means is an ace, but if you see the rest of my pitching staff you would understand. There was plenty to like in Erlin's latest ratings in the game, he's coming off a short & effective season for the Cardinals in which he went 4-1, 3.70 ERA with a 1.050 WHIP in 65.2 innings. It was a modest trade that I don't think hurts either team, I traded the Cards one of my favorite pieces in Yonny Chirinos, while unloading cuban rightfielder Gabrio Trujillo & former Red Sox prospect Michael Chavis.
Chavis was really frustrating for me, although only 24, he has only batted .224 with 4 HR & 22 RBI in 59 games (over two seasons)... he only cost me in roster space (2018 season), being a Rule 5 pick.
I traded two of our starting pitchers away in Cody Anderson & Jason Hammel. Anderson was sent over to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for two prospects in OF-Steven Kwan & SS-Joerlin De Los Santos, while Hammel was sent over to the Cubs for two prospects in P-Hector A. Garcia & SP-Mike Baumann.
During these trades, I was in persuit of Pittsburgh's Cole, but he was too expensive, I withdrew my offer and went for Sonny Gray, but failed there as Gray would sign on with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
I decided to sign smaller contracts to role players such as RP-Liam Hendriks, 1B-Conor Gillaspie, 2B/Utility-Marwin Gonzalez & vet catcher Stephen Vogt. We also added Rule 5 LF/2B/1B-Arismedy Alcantara, a former Cubs prospect.
I still wanted to shed some payroll, while also making room for Gonzalez at second, by trading DJ LeMahieu who overall disappointed at $6.0 million/per year. The Seattle Mariners needed a second baseman while Robinson Cano's game has declined. We traded DJ along with two prospects (Baumann & De Los Santos) we got in other deals & got two bigger prospects in 3B-Jhonkensy Noel & OF-Luis Veloz.
We traded our 2018 All-Star Renato Nunez, along with prospects C-Jan Mercado & OF-Hunter Bishop to the Atlanta Braves for prospect OF-Braxton Davidson.
I was almost done, and we noticed on the scrap heap Yu Darvish... yes that Yu Darvish, by 2020, he's had some arm issues, starting with the Dodgers in 2017, while he struggled with the San Francisco Giants in 2018 (5.35 ERA & 1.56 WHIP) & 2019 (4.12 ERA & 1.39 WHIP). He was asking for a one-year deal worth $1.5 million, we decided for lightning-in-a-bottle at $2.5 million total over two seasons, with a vesting option on the third year.
Since Darvish has ace experience, we decided he will start opening day, with Robbie Erlin in the second slot, Nick Tropeano (2018 All-Star for Angels) in 3rd slot, with prospect Chance Adams & Christian Binford in the 5th slot.
We will probably be bad, but I feel the team's situation isn't hopeless, and we still have close to $15 million to spend or save towards next season.