When the new owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers took over, they were not shy about declaring their intent to raise the team's payroll. Magic Johnson actually said "'Do we want to be the Yankees?,' the answer is yes." That was not an ambiguous statement.
But sometimes it's hard to spend a lot of money, even if you try. Joey Votto signed a big extension, and natural fits like Matt Cain and Cole Hamels went off the market. The Dodgers were looking at Josh Hamilton, and maybe Zack Greinke, as the only ways to prove they were serious about becoming Yankees West. Even then, Dodgers couldn't assume they'd go to the highest bidder. Maybe Zack Greinke has had a secret yen to live in Pittsburgh, and he's had it since he was six.
Dave Cameron at FanGraphs took a look at what the Dodgers could have done this offseason instead of absorbing $260 million of contracts for three players, two of whom could offer dubious production. He assumed the Dodgers could get anyone they wanted for this thought exercise, and here's what he came up with:
So, you can’t just look at this and say that the Dodgers could have signed three premium free agents this winter with the $60 million they just spent, since the future commitments drop off significantly after Beckett’s deal expires. To line this up more with what they got, we need to essentially look for two potential long term deals and one shorter deal, though we’ll give ourselves the freedom to move money around within the deals to fit other options as long as the future commitments come out similarly.
He presents three different groups of players, with Nick Swisher, Anibal Sanchez, Zack Greinke, Mike Napoli, Ryan Dempster, and Josh Hamilton getting mixed and matched to approximate the contracts the Dodgers took on.
The Dodgers couldn't assume they could go down to the free-agent store and pick players directly off the shelf, so they took a risk. But if they could have gotten whomever they wanted, would it have been preferable? It might have been. But the Dodgers made their point, committed their money, and built their roster. Magic Johnson sure wasn't lying up there. They weren't being coy after all.