Correlation between bullpen spending and production
In trying to make sense of the front office's strategy to not pursue any big name relievers this off-season, I started digging. I wanted to find out the correlation between bullpen spending and production to better assess the front office's strategy. What I found was surprising but also encouraging for how the Rangers front office has handled the bullpen this off-season.
For starters, the Rangers already had the fourth highest bullpen payroll last year at $35,269,829. It is worth noting that Martin Perez's $19.65 million salary from last season was included in that calculation although he was signed as a starter and eventually moved to the bullpen. Without his salary factored into the bullpen, the Rangers would have still sat top 10 in bullpen payroll at number nine. They didn't break the bank on the bullpen last year, but they didn't exactly pinch pennies either. Most importantly, even though they spent some, it did not result in good production.
So I started diving into what some of the payrolls from the better bullpens last season looked like. In terms of cumulative bullpen ERA, the top three bullpens were the Yankees, Brewers, and Dodgers. When you look at their 2023 bullpen payroll, the Dodgers spent the most of the three and they were 11th in bullpen payroll. The Brewers were 18th and the Yankees were 25th with a mere two percent of their total payroll coming from the bullpen.