Just before the New Year hit, I took a look at the unbelievably long list of remaining, quality free agents and the list stretched out to nearly 150 names. And although there was a signing or two since then (notably, former Cubs closer Wade Davis with the Rockies), the vast majority of free agents are still out there.
In fact, there’s so many quality names out there, we guessed you could field an entire team on remaining free agents alone, and not be half-bad. It turns out we were right.
Here’s a rough look at the best team money could buy *right now* using the 2018 Steamer Projections and some estimated contract costs via MLB Trade Rumors. This is far from a scientific process, but I think it demonstrates the point about the market reasonably well.
C – Jonathan Lucroy: 2.3 WAR (2/$24M)
1B – Eric Hosmer: 2.6 WAR (6/$132M)
2B – Neil Walker: 2.6 WAR (2/$20M)
3B – Mike Moustakas: 2.7 WAR (5/$85)
SS – Alcides Escobar: 0.3 WAR (1/$1M)
OF – JD Martinez: 2.5 WAR (6/$150M)
OF – Carlos Gomez: 1.1 WAR (2/$22M)
CF – Lorenzo Cain: 3.3 WAR (4/$70M)
SP – Yu Darvish: 3.6 WAR (6/$160M)
SP – Jake Arrieta: 2.7 WAR (4/$100M)
SP – Alex Cobb: 1.7 WAR (4/$48M)
SP – Jaime Garcia: 2.2 WAR (2/$16M)
SP – Lance Lynn: 1.3 WAR (4/$56M)
RP – Addison Reed: 0.4 WAR (4/$36M)
RP – Greg Holland: 0.1 WAR (4/$50M)
RP – Matt Albers: 0.1 WAR (1/$1M)
Total Players Signed: 16
Total Dollars Spent in FA: ~ $970 million
Total 2018 WAR Bought: ~ 29.5
Initial 2018 Payroll*: $230M
Luxury Tax Hit: $6.6M
Total 2018 Payroll: $236.6M
*Assuming the remaining 9 players on 25-man roster make roughly the Major League minimum.
If you assume the rest of the team is filled with replacement level players, and that a full-replacement level team will win around 48 games/season, then this approaches a .500 ball club. That’s not great, but it’s not terrible considering you’re starting from scratch in January, and there’s plenty of upside on those projections. That team would be within the range of a playoff berth if they outperformed a bit, and got some luck. Of course, the flip side of that is that the team is *INSANELY* expensive, and this would be the best year you’d get from them if the normal aging curves apply.
Again, this is not meant to taken seriously or literally, but it’s pretty crazy that, with enough money, you could probably start an MLB team right now … ON JANUARY 2ND … and have a reasonable shot at the postseason. And, hey, if at least a couple teams go over the luxury tax cap, you might not even have the highest payroll in baseball!