A while back, I took a look at the top teams from a previous seasons and examined how they did things. Here's a look at the four top teams (as ranked at the end of the season) and how (I think) they approached their Season 26 budget -
deang had a win at all costs strategy, and it worked. He minimized pretty much every category. This allowed him to sign multiple Free Agents to add to what was already a high salaried squad. Yes, it did win him a World Series, but will those contracts come back to haunt him?
2. Kansas City
mwelker is part of a growing trend of punting on the draft and advanced scouting. The theory is that once you are established as a top team, you will not draft a difference maker anyway, so try to get a guy (or two) in IFA with the saved money. And it was a lot of money that he saved (29 million vs the league average for those categories). Since his player budget wasn't high, he was able to compete in the IFA market and, in addition, sign multiple Type A free agents. This strategy yielded him Yusmeiro Montero. This strategy takes a while to materialize (and undo) due to the budget restrictions from year to year.
cincy played it fairly straight. His coaching budget was way down, resulting in poor ML coaches. But did it matter? All of his other categories were at or above the league average. He put $25 million more into the draft than KC, and it yielded him Logan Bowman, Al Segui, and Gabe Brantley.
ncapodagli was also of the "punt the draft and advance scouting" school, although he spent his savings on salaries rather than IFA's. He did keep his training at 20, thus maximizing the growth of his players. If you want your players to reach their potential, spend on training, and if you want them to recover from injuries, spend on medical.
5. Salt Lake City
raybie2305 had the lowest player salary budget (prior to transfers) in the world, proving that there is no single right way to win. Only one season removed from a losing record, SLC had the 11th pick in the draft and couldn't afford to miss on a player, so the draft budget needed to be high. He also made six trades last season, so his advanced budget also remained high. Another growing trend is to make educated guesses on prospects when trading with a zero ADV budget. Based on where someone was drafted, how much they received in IFA, their development pattern so far, and their patience ratings, most experienced owners can guess where a prospect will end up.