A Bullpen Story

We were talking yesterday about the Brewers' expensive bullpen, and I wondered if it was the priciest in baseball. Mom always told me the lawn wasn't going to cut itself, so I decided to run the numbers.

According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, the Brewers are second in bullpen spending, to the Yankees (surprise!). They're also one of only four teams with a bullpen budget in excess of $20 million:

  1. Yankees - $27.5M
    • Rivera - $15M
    • Farnsworth - $6M
    • Hawkins - $3.75M
    • Bruney - $750K
    • Albaladejo, Chamberlain, Karstens, Ohlendorf, Traber - near min. (~$2M total)
  2. Brewers - $26.98M
    • Gagne - $10M
    • Riske - $4M
    • Torres - $3.33M
    • Mota, Turnbow - $3.2M
    • Shouse - $2M
    • McClung - $750K
    • Choate - $500K
  3. Angels - $22.1M
    • Rodriguez - $10M
    • Shields, Speier - $4.25M
    • Oliver - $2M
    • Bootcheck, Bulger, O'Day, Thompson - near min. (~$1.6M total)
  4. Mets - $20.78M
    • Wagner - $10.5M
    • Schoeneweis - $3.6M
    • Sosa - $2M
    • Heilman, Wise - $1.2M
    • Feliciano - $1.025
    • Sanchez - $850K
    • Smith - near min. (~$400K)
The average aggregate bullpen salary is $13.29 million; the median is $11.94 million, so the average is a little top-heavy. Four teams are spending less than $6 million on their pen: the Giants, Mariners, Marlins & Pirates; a fifth, the Dodgers, is only spending $6.24 million. Amazingly, despite having the fourth-lowest bullpen salary load in baseball, the Mariners are able to pay JJ Putz $3.9 million; they're going with an 11-man staff and are paying all of their other five relievers near minimum.

Of course, spending a lot on your bullpen isn't necessarily a negative; wins are what's important (it's not my money). To that end, I added up the WXRL that the top five relievers in each bullpen are projected to accrue:

  1. Yankees - 7.5
    • Chamberlain - 3.0*
    • Rivera - 2.9
    • Farnsworth - 1.0
    • Hawkins - 0.3
    • Traber - 0.3
  2. Red Sox - 7.1
    • Papelbon - 3.8
    • Okajima - 1.1
    • Delcarmen - 1.0
    • Tavarez - 0.7
    • Timlin - 0.5
  3. Dodgers - 6.7
    • Saito - 2.5
    • Broxton - 1.9
    • Kuo - 1.1
    • Beimel - 0.6
    • Proctor - 0.6
    ...
  4. Brewers - 4.2**
    • Gagne - 1.8
    • Riske - 0.9
    • Torres - 0.6
    • Shouse - 0.5
    • Turnbow - 0.4
Oh, I see. Well then.



*Chamberlain is projected as a starter, so I just arbitrarily assigned him 3.0 WXRL (which would be the #6 total in all of baseball). Hey, this is science, people.

**Mota is projected at 0.3 WXRL.

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