Nearly $2.7 billion was spent on player salaries last season. That is an average of almost $90 million per team. This excludes minor league salaries, signing bonuses for draft picks and all other player development costs.
But what if a team decided to scrap its entire player development system, put an extra $10 million into player salaries, and tried to build a roster for under $100 million, using only players who'd sign one-year deals? What kind of team could you put together?
ESPN's free agent tracker allows you to select all players who signed one-year deals for 2010. Of those, we will remove each player who re-signed with his former team. So here is the best team $100 million can buy for one year.
Catcher: There were eight catchers in our pool, who signed for a collective $10.4 million. This is not going to be a strength. I'll go with Yorvit Torrealba and Rod Barajas.
Running cost: $1.75 million
Infielders (2B, SS and 3B): We'll go with five players here: Adrian Beltre at third, Orlando Cabrera at short and Orlando Hudson at second, with Felipe Lopez and Jerry Hairston as our utility infielders. (Hairston can also provide support in the outfield.) We've got a fairly strong bunch here, who come at a collective $21.1 million.
Running cost: $22.85 million
One Year, $100 Million
Outfielders: We'll go with four here. Coco Crisp in center, Johnny Damon in LF and Gabe Gross in RF, with Randy Winn as the fourth outfielder gives us an outfield costing $15.1.
Running cost: $37.95 million
Alright, we just filled up half our team, 13 position players, at just under $50 million. All we have to do is spend the other $50 million on 12 pitchers.
Starters: There's some decent starters here, and we'll grab most of them: Rich Harden, Brad Penny, Jon Garland, Doug Davis, and Brett Myers. That's a $30.65 million starting staff.
Running cost: $80.35 million
Relievers: Our closer and setup guy are Rafael Soriano and Matt Capps, who come at around $11 million, while the other five relievers are righties Kevin Gregg, Brendan Donnelly, Kelvim Escobar and Tyler Walker, with lefty Javier Lopez for a total of $7 million. That's 12 pitchers for just over $48 million.
Running cost: $98 million
There you have it: the best one-year free agent team $100 million can buy. But the question is: How many games can they win? I'll look at that in part 2.
Tom Tango writes for Inside The Book.