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American League

Building the best American League team under the tax threshold

The American League is reminiscent of an MLB video game arcade mode, in such that any plethora of players on the top of their game can be chosen on any given night and it shows simply how dominant they truly can be. Pitchers and position players alike, the AL seems to be the best conference and consistently is the big brother to the inferior National League.

With that status and stature comes more money, which is exactly what the superstars in the AL receive. Star players seem to receive more money from AL franchises because these teams seem more eager and willing to give out the massive deals to players, and just now with the likes of Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Nolan Arenado have we seen the NL catching onto that trend and backing up the Brinks trucks to the star player’s home.

In creating this team, there were a few guidelines that needed to be followed. All players needed to be currently on AL teams, uninjured and the 25 players needed to fit underneath the current MLB luxury tax threshold that was established for all teams during the 2019 baseball season.

While this team has absolutely no chance of ever happening, even in an All-Star contest, it is fun to dream. Here is what one version of a very capable AL roster would look like with the league’s best players.

Starters ($87,249,933)

CF Mike Trout ($17,666,667)
LF Andrew Benintendi ($717,500)
DH Khris Davis ($16,500,000)
1B Dan Vogelbach ($558,600)
3B Alex Bregman ($2,307,166)
RF Mookie Betts ($20,000,000)
C Jason Castro ($8,000,000)
SS Xander Bogaerts ($12,000,000)
2B Jose Altuve ($9,500,000)

These players are lined up in their batting order as well.

Hard to find a weakness, huh?

Top to bottom, this offensive juggernaut of a team is damn near unstoppable at the plate, being able to work counts from both sides of the dish before they jack up long balls. Having Mike Trout leading the way for this team is quite a way to start the game, as he always seems to get on base even if all the spots are hit and pitches are made.

The no. two through four hitters are no slouches either, as Andrew Benintendi joins slugger Khris Davis and youngster Dan Vogelbach in the middle of this lineup. Due to budgetary concerns and wanting to spice it up a bit, putting Vogelbach on this squad gives it some left-handed power while also providing formidable defense at first base.

After Vogelbach, fan favorites Alex Bregman and Mookie Betts are fifth and sixth, respectively, and Jason Castro, Xander Bogaerts and Jose Altuve round out the bottom of the order. When in the history of this league, sans any All-Star contests, has a team been able to trot out such a strong nine-hole hitter like Altuve? Never.

Starting Rotation ($53,686,700)

SP1 – Chris Sale ($15,000,000)
SP2 – Justin Verlander ($28,000,000)
SP3 – Yusei Kikuchi ($9,500,000)
SP4 – Jose Berrios ($620,000)
SP5 – Tyler Glasnow ($566,700)

Inject superstars right into my veins, this unit is awesome. Obviously being led by the two-headed monster that is Chris Sale and Justin Verlander, this unit has the veteran know-how to help lead the other three starters into battle.

Yusei Kikuchi looks to be the next starting pitcher savior for the Seattle Mariners ever since coming over, and he slots in perfectly into the middle of this starting rotation. Rounded out by potential ace material in Jose Berrios and future ace potential in Tyler Glasnow, and this unit is very, very strong, from top to bottom.

Bullpen ($39,666,800)

RP/CL- Aroldis Chapman ($17,200,000)
RP/CL- Brad Hand ($6,500,000)
RP- Chris Devenski ($1,525,000)
RP/CL- Cody Allen ($8,500,000)
RP- Steven Wright ($1,375,000)
RP- Josh James ($566,800)
RP- Jesse Chavez ($4,000,000)

A bit of a pricey unit due to the AL seemingly overvaluing closers and their contracts, shutting the door in any game is easily covered. By having the likes of Aroldis Chapman, Brad Hand, and Cody Allen at the beck and call to come out of the pen, have fun trying to get any runs scored in a comeback attempt in the ninth inning.

Outside of closers, Chris Devenski and Josh James join forces again, as these current Houston Astros teammates are solid options out of the pen when in a jam. Knuckleballer Steven Wright can be a starter if needed and can go multiple innings, as can Jesse Chavez, who has made a really good living on being team’s swingman in the pen.

Bench ($17,407,400)

UTIL Marwin Gonzalez ($12,000,000)
CF Austin Meadows ($557,400)
C Christian Vazquez ($2,850,000)
2B Josh Harrison ($2,000,000)

To be paying close to $20 million for a bench unit alone is quite a task, but headlining that unit is Swiss army knife Marwin Gonzalez, who showed in his Astros career that he can play anywhere on the diamond and thrive. Having him be able to plug all holes on the field and not be a defensive liability is a great asset to have, and his bat is above average too.

Austin Meadows is the lone outfield-only man off the bench, and his youthful potential is huge for this squad. Combining him with budding catcher Christian Vazquez and steady and swaggy infielder Josh Harrison gives this team an edge on the bench in pretty much every situation.

Salary

Field players (including bench): $104,657,333
Pitchers (including bullpen): $93,353,500
TOTAL: $198,010,833
Space left under the tax: $7,989,167

Being able to stay underneath the luxury tax threshold and field this competitive of a squad was a tall order, but by doing some finagling, that was achieved, with just under $8 million in space left to make any mid-season acquisitions. Unstoppable to say the least, this team could easily eclipse the regular-season victory record recently tied by the Mariners back in 2001 at 116 under manager Lou Piniella.