Im going to have to disagree on the proven bullpen arm theory. Relievers can have bad years but if you look at a guy who has a bad inning and works 60 innings in a year his era can go up a half run. Also there are plenty of proven relievers on the market in my opinion. There is no such thing as a sure thing but I think there are a lot of guys who can be solid over a 2 year contract. In my opinion no reliever sould be giving more than 2 years at a time. Here's some guys I would be confident in signing to reasonable deals as relievers.
Johnathan Broxton, Joakim Soria, Brett Myers, Ryan Madsen, Mike Adams, Juan Carlos Aviedo, Koji Uehera, Kyuji Fukikawa (probably), Sean Burnett, Joel Peralta, Jeremy Affeldt, and there are probably a couple starters that could move to the pen and do a good job.(I left Soriano becuase he will cost to much for sure)Jason Grilli, Matt Lindstrom, and Juan Cruz could potentially be added
If it were me I would spend around 10-12 million on the list above hopefully get 2 guys. Then look at some guys who could potentially battle for a spot and would come cheap. Guys like
Kyle Farnsworth, Joey Devine, Brad Penny, and a couple other starters
I guess I'll take my shot at refuting this statement. First off, I'm going to remove Broxton and Soria from my argument. Although closers can be very fickle, I will say that if there is any sort of somewhat proven arm, it usually isn't a closer. I still view those two as closers, or of closer quality if that makes sense.
So onto the next couple dudes, Myers has mainly been a reliever for 2 years in his career, one of which was a 3.31 ERA, the other a 4.33. I will give you that Mike Adams has been consistently good as a reliever throughout his post-Brewers career (although his numbers aren't trending in the right direction.) Jaun Carlos Oviedo has been upper 3s and lower 4s for his last couple year ERAs, which isn't that spectacular. I look at Juan Cruz's career numbers and see enough 7s and 5s sprinkled in to not at all be surprised if he finished next year in the 5s as well. Joel Peralta's recent career ERAs are 6, 6, 2, 3, 3.5. Those really aren't super consistent, and he's no spring chicken. And is his .5 WAR worth the almost 3 million he made last season?
I just kind of picked a couple dudes out of that list because I didn't want to look them all up. I appreciate the list, and some of those guys are more consistent than I gave them credit for, but I still am not sold on them really being proven. I don't think there's any way to sign a couple of these guys to probably semi-inflated salaries and say that we'll for sure have a top 5-10 bullpen. There's just too much volatility in my mind.