You are Dash Stembleton, a wealthy industrialist and charming raconteur. Your great-great-grandfather invented the sideburn, and you're a billionaire several times over. And you want to buy a baseball team. As luck would have it, there's one for sale.
The only problem is the team is dreadful, just dreadful. Let's call them the "San Antonio Solars." Out of the 25 players on the roster, you want to keep exactly zero. You need to field a team, but this just won't do at all.
So you want to buy a team through free agency. You promised Commissioner Selig that you wouldn't go full Dodgers out of the gate, so you're limited to a $150 million payroll. What kind of team can you buy with that kind of chump change? Dash finds a way, though. Dash finds a way.
You're free -- nay, encouraged -- to chime in with your own mock roster in the comments. The only asterisk is that if you're guessing it'll take a $75 million posting fee to get a five year, $75 million deal for Masahiro Tanaka, you have to treat it like a five year, $150 million deal for the purposes of this exercise.
The other asterisk is that you're probably a cheater who is lowballing all of these free agents. But whatever. I'm using Jon Heyman's article and various MLB Trade Rumors articles to guesstimate the deals. The total listed is the projected average annual value of the contract.
One possible permutation:
SP: Bartolo Colon, $11 million
SP: Bronson Arroyo: $12 million
SP: A.J. Burnett, $14 million
SP: Jason Hammel, $6 million
SP: Randy Messenger, $5 million
RP: Edward Mujica, $5 million
RP: Joe Smith, $4 million
RP: Scott Downs, $2 million
RP: Travis Blackley, $500,000
RP: Trevor Bell, $500,000
RP: Look, just pick a couple guys for the minimum
RP: Steve Edlefsen or something
C: Jose Molina, $2 million
1B: Mike Napoli, $14 million
2B: Kelly Johnson, $6 million
SS: Stephen Drew, $13 million
3B: Juan Uribe, $6 million
LF: Shin-Soo Choo, $18 million
CF: Chris Young, $5 million
RF: Carlos Beltran, $18 million
OF: Tyler Colvin, $1 million
OF: Andres Torres, $1 million
INF: Alexi Casilla, $1 million
UTIL: Eric Chavez, $3 million
C: Yorvit Torrealba, $1 million
$48 million for rotation
$13 million for bullpen
$82 million for lineup
$7 million for bench
Congratulations, Dash. Your team … isn't completely horrible. Unless the bottom four in the rotation repeat their 2013 seasons, or if several members of the bullpen actually pitch in a live game. Or if the famously fragile position players crumble into graham-cracker dust before leaving spring training.
But, of course, even the San Antonio Solars have a farm system. That might preclude the need for something like a million-dollar Alexi Casilla, or a bunch of random minor-league goofballs to fill out the bullpen. The bullpen would be awful. The rotation doesn't have a lot of upside, but the potential downside is limited, too. Molina is there to frame and amuse use when he runs.
Is it a team that the people in San Antonio would come out for? Sure. Some name brands up there. The infield defense should be excellent, too. You know how crowds swarm around infield defense.
There's a caveat, though: This is as good as the team is going to get. Then they'll get older. The unspoken horror of the Drew deal, for example, is that he'll make that money in 2016, too. Choo's deal is going to end up being ridiculous. So this $150 million team moving forward would be something of a mess.
That's okay, though. Dash will spend to replace what Dash needs to replace. Your concern is 2014. And you got a team that is kinda sorta okay, with a modicum of upside. People do this exercise every year, but this is the first time I remembering not absolutely hating the result. Good luck, Dash.
Actually, I'll bet this would rejuvenate the Miami fan base, you know. Food for thought.