Esposito: Solution To Free Agent Freeze – Expansion

Here’s a firmly tongue-in-cheek solution to baseball’s ongoing free agent freeze: Expansion!

Sure, there’s still over 100 veteran major leaguers out there still wondering where their next set of baseball laundry will be issued, and we’re not going to discuss the whys and therefores here, as there is a multitude of reasons which are already being debated incessantly on other platforms. But as long as they’re out there, let’s turn on the imagination machine and expand baseball by at least two teams and let them join the fray, and who knows, maybe one or both will become Wild Card contenders.

We know that many free agents are already packing their bags for the announced free agent camp that is hurriedly being set up in Bradenton, FL, to give them a place to play, but again, we’ll put that reality aside for a moment to ponder this impossible scenario.

Okay, first step, where to put the two new teams. Let’s drop one into the latest hot ticket town for sports franchises, Las Vegas. Yes, we know former Commissioner Bud Selig was real reluctant to rotate two dozen millionaires into Sin City every few days with all those financial and physical distractions, but hey, if the home office of gambling is good enough for the NHL and soon, the NFL, why not MLB?

And we’ll call them The Las Vegas Rolling Bones!

To balance out our new two-team division, we’ll send the other north of the border and revive major league baseball in Montreal. Apparently, they miss the game and would welcome a new franchise with open arms – oui! – and already have a built-in fan base who still wear worn-out Expos gear.

We’ll call them the Montreal Millionaires! After all, all of these veteran free agents stand to earn at least seven figures with new contracts.

Okay, who will own these two new clubs? That’s easy. Scott Boras can “own” the Rolling Bones. After all, his clients are amongst the greatest collection of holdouts for big bucks, and he can afford to foot the bill. Yes, he’s already decided not to let his clients journey to the proposed free agent camp in Bradenton, as he has a facility in California they can use, but we’re guessing he would love the high-profile opportunity to showcase his players.

The Montreal club could be owned by one of the other big-time representation agencies, CAA, or Creative Artists Agency. It would be an interesting flip-of-the-switch when the employee reps becomes the employers.

Okay, who would the newbies play? After all, schedules have been set for about a year. Well, they could play each other a bunch of times, but that could get pretty boring after awhile. So, we’ll have to do a bunch of juggling, and for one, instead of teams in MLB playing each team in their own division 18 or 19 times, we’ll cut those back to maybe 12-15 times, and add those games to the expansion schedule. One way or another, we’ll make the math work.

Okay, who would manage the Rolling Bones and Millionaires?

Well, Joe Girardi is looking for a team to crack open his new binder. He’s happy in his new gig on the MLB network as an analyst, but give him a new uniform, put him in charge of the Millionaires, and he’ll be even happier.

For the Rolling Bones, we’ll call Willie Randolph out of retirement. Why any team hasn’t noticed that his years managing the Mets resulted in winning records is remarkable, as he was a good manager and will welcome the chance to call the shots again.

It’ll be fun observing the two ex-Yankees matching wits when they face each other again.

Okay, it’s time to figure out the rosters for these free agent fantasy teams. You can debate these choices until they sign their real contracts, and by the time you read this, some of the choices may have already been “traded” to their new clubs, but in our fake fantasy draft, here’s what occurred:

The Millionaires won the coin toss, and selected pitcher Yu Darvish with their first pick. Sure, why not send a Japanese-speaking pitcher out of the predominantly English-speaking country to a town that speaks a lot of French. Good for the translator industry.

The Rolling Bones went for power and selected J.D. Martinez with their first selection.

The rest of the draft went as follows, and yes, since there are so many free agents, they went above the 25-man limit for their imaginary spring training before cutting down their rosters.

Listed by position, not round choices, to make it easier to comprehend:

1B – Logan Morrison, Mark Reynolds, Danny Valencia
2B – Brandon Phillips, Nick Franklin
SS – Erick Aybar, Stephen Drew
3B – Eduardo Nunez, Yunel Escobar
C – A.J. Ellis, Carlos Ruiz
OF – Jose Bautista, Melky Cabrera, Carlos Gomez, Andre Ethier, Jon Jay, Franklin Gutierrez, Ichiro Suzuki, Colby Rasmus, Matt Holliday
SP – Darvish, Alex Cobb, Jason Vargas, Andrew Cashner, Matt Garza, Clay Bucholz, Scott Feldman
RP – Greg Holland, Tyler Clippard, Francisco Liriano, Drew Storen, Huston Street, Sergio Romo, Tyler Pill, Matt Belisle, John Axford, Jesse Chavez, Bud Norris

Rolling Bones:
1B – Eric Hosmer, Adam Lind, Lucas Duda
2B – Neil Walker, Cliff Pennington
SS – J.J. Hardy, Arismendy Alcantara
3B – Mike Moustakas, Trevor Plouffe
C – Jonathan Lucroy, Geovany Soto
OF – Martinez, Carlos Gonzalez, John Jaso, Cameron Maybin, Chris Young, Rajal Davis, Jarrod Dyson, Ben Revere, Seth Smith
SP – Jake Arrieta, John Lackey, Lance Lynn, Edinson Volquez, Jeremy Hellickson, Ricky Nolasco, Jaime Garcia
RP – Trevor Rosenthal, Jason Grilli, Jason Motte, Chad Qualls, Joaquin Benoit, Trevor Cahill, Jorge de la Rosa, Koji Uehara, Tony Watson, Anibal Sanchez, Fernando Abad

Would these teams win? Yeah, they probably would, they probably could contend for a Wild Card.

And which team had a better draft? We’ll let you debate that. Are they on your fantasy team yet?

Is all this possible, no. But we’re not that far away from seeing teams in Vegas and Montreal, anyway, despite what the powers that be might say right now, so here’s a good road test. But no, it ain’t gonna happen right now. But is it fun to consider, yes.

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