The game is to "fix your team" however you will. For most that means "playoffs in 2014." You have $50 million and 5 moves.
You know, baseball's a funny game. A game where a suggestion of $50 million dollars to most teams is a realistic discussion; they are missing the key players to advance to the playoffs, they need a bigger payroll to draw the bigger stars.
That; however, is not a problem for the Oakland Athletics, and their tiny payroll.
This team has made the playoffs two years in a row with a rookie team, and came exactly one game away from advancing to the second round of the playoffs before being knocked out by the exact same player in the deciding game 5's.
What I would do with $50 million to help the A's advance? Trade the farm and the money for Justin Verlander's contract so he can't face us in a Game 5 in 2014. Kidding. I wouldn't.
But maybe I would pay someone the $50 million to seduce him and keep him on a tropical island for a year. Good form? Probably not. Justin Verlander out of the playoffs? Works for me. I'm done!
As long as we're in fantasy land, what would I really do? Let's say that Rickey Henderson made some really shrewd financial decisions after he decided to cash in the checks hanging on his walls. He's come up with an extra $50 million a year, and he's donating that to the A's. What would I buy?
Let's see. I suppose we could go the route where we decide that the reason the A's can't close out the five-game series is because they haven't yet produced a real, true ace pitcher, although Sonny Gray did his best impression in the playoffs. That would require a big move with the money; trading for a Max Scherzer or a David Price, both rumored to be on the trading block. Not the move you want to make for the long term, but it nets you an ace pitcher for the season, at least. But I think I'd go a different way.
With that kind of money, I'm pretty sure I'd have a plan that involves signing Robinson Cano, who is the #1 free-agent pick this off-season, for $25 million a year, Shin-Soo Choo for $17 million a year, and Tim Hudson for $8 million a year. There's your $50 million, and your much-improved team.
But because this is the A's, and there has to be some sense of realism here, I have some other thoughts.
The hole the A's have to fill, of course, is second base, with or without any extra payroll. The top free agents are Cano, Infante, and Ellis. The A's could realistically look at Omar Infante. Offer him a 3-year deal at $24 million, hoping, of course, that the Yankees sign Cano and are out of the running.
And as long as we're rosterbating, what about Corey Hart? He can play the outfield, he can DH, he can play first base, and he's the perfect right-handed platoon. He hit 31 home runs in 2010, 26 in 2011, and 30 in 2012 before missing the entirety of the 2013 season. This will drive his price down, and maybe entice him to sign a short-term deal to prove himself and cash in on his next contract. Forget the $50 million; I'm interested in Corey Hart on the A's in real life baseball. Offer him $8 or $9 million for the year?
Phil Hughes is another option for the A's this year; his Achilles heel is that he gives up home runs, but there is a world of difference between the Oakland Coliseum and New York. He's had down years two of the last three years, and also might be looking for the one-year deal. Offer him $7 or $8 million to pitch in the Coliseum for the year?
And I know it's been discussed on the site, but the A's could offer arbitration to Seth Smith, who was pretty solid this season once he fixed his nagging eye issue. Based on his 2013 salary, that would add $4+ million. The A's could let go of Barton, and offer Blevins, Chavez, Jaso, Lowrie, Moss, and Reddick arbitration as well. Decisions, decisions.
What would you do with an additional $50 million dollars on the A's payroll? Who are your dream players? And who should the A's sign, or keep, anyway?