November is the month of three traditions: Thanksgiving, Movember (wait, is that still a thing?), and the SBNation Offseason sim, which is brilliantly hosted every year by Max Rieper of Royals Review. The first two you are probably already familiar with. The last one is a simulation where fans of every team get to be the GM of their team and prepare it for the following season. The exercise lasts around 48 hours in the span of three days, so everything ends up very compact and crazy.
In previous years Ivan the Great had been the Braves GM. But EccentricATLFan took the reins of the team for the past offseason. The idea for the 2022 offseason was for him to do it again, with a handful of others helping and observing. However, I’m not 100% what the Lerner family did at Washington, but they ended up poaching our GM - now known as EccentricWSHFan at least for the weekend.
This move ended up with the Braves having a three-headed GM team of ChopKid13, rajah, and myself. The Sim was supposed to start on November 6th, but ended up being delayed a week. This gave us ample time to prepare and set up a few goals:
- Sign one of the four top SS: This discussion was the one that took most of our prep time. We ended up comparing, ranking, and setting up budgets and potential offers for all of them.
- Sign a competent LF: We all saw it last year. Bad defense and very little offense.
2a. Or go big in LF: If we couldn’t get one of the top four SS, we were ready to spend big in the outfield, either by trade or free agency.
- Get rid of dead weight contracts: If we wanted to offer a big free agent contract, we needed to get rid of underwater contracts. Especially Marcell Ozuna and Raisel Iglesias.
- Stay within budget: With real lifeTerry McGuirk saying that he expects the Braves to be a top 5 payroll team, we agreed that it could mean somewhere within the 215-230 million range.
We also agreed that we weren’t going to do any drastic move in direction or undo any of the recent moves by Alex Antopoulos in real life. This means that we made a serious effort to replicate all the moves that were done from the end of the World Series up until sunday. We did, however, act under the assumption that Brian Snitker was either not managing the team anymore, or he was going to manage it in a more progressive manner.
Max - who by the way also acted as the player’s agent in free agent negotiations - set up a few rules that slightly impacted how we ran the team: mainly that there were no 40-man roster concerns, players with No Trade Clause could not be traded, and no contract extensions could be handed out.
Even though the sim officially started until Sunday at 3ET, participants were invited to the Slack workspace on Saturday and were free to start negotiating, even if nothing could be made official. Our first order of business was to replicate the trades that Antopoulos had made before:
Braves trade Jake Odorizzi and $10 million to the Rangers for Kolby Allard
Rockies trade Sam Hilliard to the Braves for Dylan Spain
There’s not too much to say here that hasn’t been said. We were basically trying to follow Anthopoulos. I also contacted the Rays GM and tried to trade for Nick Anderson before he was non-tendered, but I never got an answer. Anderson ended up signing elsewhere for much more than what the Braves are paying him. Good riddance! We actually ended up being very active on Saturday, either getting offers for some of our players, or straight up getting deals done under the table. Don’t tell Manfred.
We came into the day with already a trade secured aside from the previous two. We went straight ahead to do our first wave of moves. Aside from confirming the moves from above, this is what we did on the first day:
Braves trade Raisel Iglesias to the Angels for Ryan Tepera and Janson Junk
Iglesias was very solid for the Braves in his short time with the team. But we owed him $16 million for the next 3 years. The Angels were very interested in having him back, and although they couldn’t offer Jesse Chavez because he was a free agent at this point, they did end up sending a couple of relievers. Tepera is owed $7 million but only for one year before becoming a free agent. Junk is still pre-arb and has a super villain name.
Fun fact: Tepera got an MVP vote in 2020 because a St. Louis writer clicked on his name by mistake instead of Trea Turner.
Braves make a QO to Dansby Swanson
Braves non-tender Silvino Bracho, Guillermo Heredia, and Tyler Matzek
There’s not too much to say about these moves. The Qualifying Offer to Swanson is a no-brainer, Bracho could be replaced cheaper, Heredia could be upgraded, and Matzek isn’t playing in 2023. The deadline for the non-tenders was on Day 2, but we took care of them right away.
This also meant that we tendered contracts to Fried ($12.2M), Minter($5M), and Soroka($2.8M).
Braves sign Jesse Chavez to a 1 year, $1.2 million deal
This move was also to reflect what had happened in real life before the sim started. Although honestly, I was always keen on targeting him anyways. The only difference is that ours is a fully guaranteed deal.
Braves trade Kyle Muller, Marcell Ozuna, and Orlando Arcía to the Pirates for Miguel Andújar and Kevin Newman
One thing I didn’t mention above, is that we were ready to eat all of the remaining salary of Ozuna’s contract. The three of us were convinced we didn’t want him on our team going forward. Other teams agreed with that - they didn’t want him either. I ended up going to pretty much every rebuilding team I could imagine trying to unload Ozuna. Finally the Pirates agreed to make it work. This was a huge win for us, since there was really no place for Macell in the team, and he was going to be paid $18M this year and next.
Pittsburgh was looking for MLB starting pitching. So at first we offered Ian Anderson. However his struggles and injuries last year made the Pirates wary. So we settled on Kyle Muller. They also get a cheap starting shortstop who I’m sure they are hoping replicates his 2022 success, only now as a full time starter. And I was more than happy to trade Arcía to a team that could give him a starting job. I think Pittsburgh is hoping that a change of scenery helps Ozuna come back to his pre-2021 form.
As for the return, we got two arbitration eligible infielders. Nothing home to talk about, but at least we saw value in one of them as a backup SS. Speaking of…
Braves non-tender Miguel Andújar
Go have a good life.
Braves sign Chris Martin to a 2 year, $14 million deal with a $6 million club option
With Iglesias gone, we felt like the top of the bullpen was both too slim and too left handed. Old friend Chris Martin was surprisingly good in 2022, so we were happy to bring him back. This meant we were putting 14 of Raisel’s 16 million back into the bullpen. The big difference is that we lightened the salary for the future.
Nationals trade Alex Call to Braves for Huascar Ynoa and Braden Shewmake
I think the most active team in the Sim was Washington. And since Saturday, they had been sending a lot of trade ideas. It was never a secret on their part that they were targeting Ynoa and some of our prospects - especially in a trade for Ozuna that never happened. 27 year old Alex Call had some relative success in his short stint in the majors last year, even if he isn’t a prospect by any means. We really liked that he is able to defend all three outfield positions and can even be a decent bench bat. With three options and making the minimum, there’s very little risk with him.
Braves sign Tyler Matzek to a 2 year, $4 million deal
This made us sweat a little more than what we expected. Matzek was non-tendered because he wasn’t going to play in 2023, but we fully wanted him back for ‘24. He deserves the shot even if only for sentimental reasons. The deal is structured so that he gets only $1 million in ‘23, and the other $3 million in 2024. He received at least one more offer from another team before we got him, which was unexpected.
Braves sign Jon Berti to a 1 year, $2 million deal
Berti was non-tendered by Miami. He comes to the Braves because of his defensive flexibility and decent bat. Last year, he played all defensive positions except catcher, RF, and first base. He’s also the best in the league at rounding first.
Cardinals sign Dansby Swanson to an 8 year, $256 million deal with incentives
This isn’t our move. But still, the official end of the Swanson era.
Yankees sign Trea Turner to an 11 year, $420 million deal
Gulp. We are down to 2 free agent shortstops. More importantly, the Phillies play their hand and say they were in on Turner. So they might end up interfering with us.
Braves sign Carlos Correa to a 10 year, $400 million deal
The big fish. Although it wasn’t unanimous, we all agreed that we were going to go after Correa and throw him a whole bunch of money. A lot of what we did before was to get him. I sent the first offer as soon as the sim started and was constantly asking for updates. We actually ended Day 1 with the highest offer at 10/380. Scott Boras sent me one more update that Correa was being offered 390. We went up to 400 and that was the end.
In all fairness, this is the only time we felt we truly played with Monopoly money. But just look at how much the other shortstop free agents got. We signed our guy to the second lowest AAV of the four. He’s also the youngest and is projected to be the better one. And unlike with the other three, we don’t lose a pick by signing him because there was no QO offered to him.
Braves sign Jurickson Profar to a 2 year, $20 million deal
We liked Profar as our left fielder after spending all the money on Correa. We initially had offered what we thought was a fair deal to Brandon Nimmo before he got $200 million. Profar is another guy that can play everywhere on the field. He’s not a big smasher but is still an upgrade over what we had before - with the bat and the glove. He’s also a switch hitter which is a nice bonus. Also - good luck with spelling his name for 2 years, Braves fans.
With this, we pretty much ended Day 2. We had made almost all the moves we wanted and were set for the next season. But we still had one more thing we wanted to do.
Braves sign Guillermo Heredia and Phil Gosselin to minor league deals
The Swordsman is back. I’m not a monster.
Athletics trade Tommy Stevenson to the Atlanta Braves for Eddie Rosario, Dylan Dodd and AJ Smith-Shawver
I spent the last part of Day 2 and the start of Day 3 trying to move Rosario, who was the last bad contract we wanted to move. The negotiation was longer than expected, but at the end we got a lottery ticket guy in Stevenson.
Oakland releases Rosario and wishes him the best
I don’t think this move was officially made in the sim, but it was sent by the A’s in the email about the trade.
In my opinion, we did a pretty good job overall. We were able to get rid of some awful contracts without trading Justyn-Henry Malloy, who was easily the prospect that was asked about the most. Ian Anderson was another name that was asked about, along with Vaughn Grissom. Some trade ideas that didn’t come to fruition were ones targeting Cedric Mullins or Anthony Santander from the Orioles; Tyler Ward of the Angels (I really, really wanted this one personally); Jorge Soler after he was traded to Washington; Josh Rojas of the Diamondback; and Scott Barlow of the Royals. Also, we can confirm that any rumors or reports about the Braves trying to trade Ronald Acuña Jr. are categorically false.
In the end - the payroll is $214,100,00 which is just below our target - even after paying $40 million to Correa. You can read the full recap and all the transactions here.
Your 2023 Sim Braves roster is as follows
Max Fried, Kyle Wright, Spencer Strider, Charlie Morton.
Battling for the 5th spot or a bullpen spot:
Mike Soroka, Bryce Elder, Ian Anderson, Kolby Allard
AJ Minter, Kirby Yates, Chris Martin, Dylan Lee, Colin McHugh, Ryan Tepera, Jesse Chavez
Fight for the last bullpen spot and depth:
Janson Junk, Alan Rangel, Freddy Tarnok, Brooks Wilson
Travis d’Arnaud, William Contreras, Manny Piña
Matt Olson, Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, Carlos Correa, Joe Berti
Jurickson Profar, Michael Harris II, Ronald Acuña Jr.
Fight for the last 2 bench spots:
Kevin Newman, Sam Hilliard, Alex Call
Guillermo Heredia, Phil Gosselin
Now, the fun part is asking you to try and set up the lineup.