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Constructing A 25-Man Roster Of Free Agents

Once the free agent pool starts shrinking, it's always fun to start imagining teams composed only of unsigned players. For the purposes of this admittedly subjective post, I have assumed that every free agent wants to sign with my imaginary American League team and that payroll is unlimited.

My team would be heavy on power relievers, big bats, injury risks and Hairston brothers. It would be light on speed, youth and dependable starting pitching. Here's a look at my imagined 25-man roster, which would likely cost about $120MM. Players in bold are on the team.

The infield would consist of Adam LaRoche at first base, David Eckstein at second, Orlando Cabrera and short and Adrian Beltre at third. Jerry Hairston would back up at short and second and despite his rough 2010 season, Jorge Cantu would make the team as a backup corner infielder. This group figures to be above-average defensively and at least average on offense.

Aging stars would dominate the outfield. Johnny Damon would win the left field job over Fred Lewis, Scott Podsednik and Marcus Thames. Jim Edmonds and Andruw Jones, a pair of once-elite defenders, would roam center and right, respectively. Since Edmonds struggles against lefties and Damon also bats left-handed, the team's fourth outfielder would be Scott Hairston, who is versatile and right-handed.

Fans of the 2006 Blue Jays will be happy to see that Bengie Molina and Gregg Zaun have been reunited as the catching tandem for this hypothetical team. Molina slumped to .249/.297/.326 last year and Zaun missed most of the season with right shoulder surgery, but this duo isn't bad.

Vladimir Guerrero makes the team as a DH over a group of appealing candidates. I decided against Jim Thome, since the team already has a number of left-handed starters who figure to hit in the middle of the order (LaRoche, Damon, Edmonds). Manny Ramirez, another big right-handed bat, was a potential alternative to Vlad, but Guerrero produced more in 2010.

The starting rotation would consist of Carl Pavano, Brandon Webb, Jeff Francis, Freddy Garcia and Kevin Millwood (I'm assuming Andy Pettitte is not available). There's upside here, but Pavano, Webb and Francis are far from sure things. That's why I made Jeremy Bonderman the team's sixth starter/power right-handed reliever. There's no guarantee that he'll stay healthy, so Bruce Chen makes the team as the second lefty out of the 'pen and spot starter.

The bullpen would be the team's strength. Rafael Soriano would close and Kevin Gregg, Brian Fuentes, Jon Rauch and Octavio Dotel would also be available late in games.

I think this would likely turn out to be a below average, but respectable major league team, but I'd like to know what you think. Feel free to create your own teams or make adjustments to mine in the comments section.


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