I just happened to pick guys listed on the non tender list based on alphabetical listing of teams and removed guys whom I recall signing elsewhere. Teams presently building a roster in a similar vein to Bloom that were good last year and had good bullpens by and large did it with spending extremely little in the middle of that bullpen.
Cleveland was 5th in bullpen ERA. Their high expenditure outside of their closer was Karinchik at $710k. Baltimore was 9th and their top expenditure was Jorge Lopez at $925k (whom they traded) and then Dillon Tate at $711k. If we’re going to build our rotation and line up the same way those teams do too, I think it makes sense to not commit money to the most volatile point of baseball (relief pitching).
I guess I have faith in good GMs that are building teams in that manner to find guys to fill roles in the bullpen for very cheap money.
I'll use Tampa as the example to look up in greater detail, they paid for their closer (as much as TB has one) in Raley and Wisler at around $5m and $2.2m and neither was even one of their top 4 relief pitchers in terms of performance. Here were their top 10 relief pitchers by bWAR (just because that's a) easier to look up in aggregate and b) it shows what actually happened by overweighting performance as opposed to assumed performance, since bullpens seem to be in a constant state of flux).
Jason Adam bWAR of 2.6 for $900k
JP Feyereisen 1.4 for $708k
Pete Fairbanks 1.3 for $714k
Jalen Beeks 1.1 for $750k
Brooks Raley .9 for $5m
Matt Wisler .7 for $2.2m
Shawn Armstrong .6 for $700k
Luke Bard .5 for $115k
JT Chargois .5 for $710k
Garrett Cleavinger .4 for $152k
I'm happy to look this up for Cleveland and Baltimore too, but since we're chasing all three teams and ostensibly using similar roster construction, they're the best comps, at least in my opinion.
If there is any place where a good GM should be able to find / cycle in guys for absolutely no money, it's the bullpen. There seems little correlation between money spent and what one actually receives (see above). The teams we're apparently choosing to emulate or catch (Tampa, Cleveland, Baltimore) are easily able to do this. I'm happy to look this up for Cleveland and Baltimore too, but since we're chasing all three teams and ostensibly using similar roster construction, they're the best comps, at least in my opinion.
As to the question of how one "spin(s) that to the public?"; I'll start by saying that I don't think this is a huge concern of the current front office (nor should it be). But to answer your question, it would be pretty easy. "We looked at the volatility inherent in relief pitcher from year to year, and decided it was much more difficult to find a middle of the order, face of the franchise player than relief help. We elected to spend $28m to retain one of the most popular players in our team, whom happens to also be one of our most valuable players and a long term core asset while building a lot of bullpen depth at lower costs that we think can follow the models of some of the better bullpens in the game last year."
Of course, if one doesn't want to sign long term contracts any longer or doesn't believe that's a sustainable way to build a team, we could also have higher expenditures on short term deals for veteran players, which should also be an easier sell to the public due to names they'd recognize. But again, I don't think spin to the public is a major concern, nor do I think it should be.
There are plenty of ways to use that money, especially when it should be the easiest place to find value / similar options for low cost, particularly when there are so many holes / question marks up and down the roster. Unless of course we think that Bloom isn't as good a GM / talent evaluator as the heads of baseball ops in Tampa, Cleveland and Baltimore, which is another discussion.
Oh, and I think 2020 was a MUCH more successful outcome of a season than 2022 @Max Power
. In both cases we missed the playoffs. In both cases we finished last in our division. However, in one we re-set the luxury tax, we lost enough to get a considerably higher draft pick (Mayer), and we sold at the deadline to get more assets for the future. In the other, we didn't achieve any of those. Had Bloom followed a path near the 2022 deadline like he did in 2020, you'd at least have one poster (yours truly) less concerned about the direction of the franchise under Bloom.