Back in the dark ages of 2006, the Orioles had a really bad bullpen (I know, hard to believe). A relief corps anchored by LaTroy Hawkins, Bruce Chen, Russ Ortiz, John Halama, and Todd Williams somehow managed to punch up a 5.27 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in 512.1 IP. In response, the club decided to spend big money on middle relievers in the free agent market: Danys Baez (3 years, $19 million), Jamie Walker (3 years, $12.0 million), and Chad Bradford (3 years, $10.5 million) received a combined $41.5 million. The results? Disastrous.
Over the past three seasons (and including the season and a half Bradford spent with Tampa Bay), those three "pitchers" (and I use that term loosely) were worth a combined 0.8 wins above replacement, with Bradford the only one earning positive returns. That's right, the Orioles paid $51.9 million per marginal win! Granted, the rest of the league wasn't so good either that offseason. Seven relievers (Baez, Walker, Bradford, Keith Foulke, Guillermo Mota, Scott Schoeneweis, and Justin Speier) received $80.3 million in guaranteed money and returned -0.8 wins to their clubs! I think it's safe to say that the free agent market is not a good place to go looking for wins from your bullpen.