Until this off-season most Jays fans had assumed that AA propensity to pick up free agent relievers (or trade in the case of Frank Francisco) had mostly to do with the possibility that they could bring in draft picks as Type A or B free agents.
As members of the Jays the moves didn't really pay off. Last year for instance Frank Francisco was inconsistent, Octavio Dotel's slow start and misuse against lefties brought his numbers down, and Jon Rauch had a pretty awful year. However this off-season again the Jays have emphasized improving the bullpen again despite the fact that it no longer can bring in draft picks by bringing in Santos, Oliver and Cordero as well as bringing back Jason Frasor.
Though he has put a lot of priority on the bullpen he managed to do this fairly cost effectively.
Jays Bullpen (salaries from Cot's)
Sergio Santos (R) (12:$1M, 13:$2.75M, 14:$3.75M, 15:$6M club option, 16:$8M club option,17:$8.75M club option; $0.75M buyouts for each option)
Darren Oliver (L) (1st yr 4.5m 2nd yr 2.5m or .5m buyout)
Francisco Cordero (R) (1yr 4.5m)
Jason Frasor (R) (1st yr 3.5m or 2nd yr 3.75m)
Carlos Villanueva (R) (1yr 2.28m)
Casey Janssen (R) (1st year 2m, 2nd yr 3.9m, 3rd yr 4m club option)
Jesse Litsch (R) ( 1 year/$0.975M)
I have been trying to sort out for myself whether I feel like the Jays have overprioritized the pen and though I think the Santos deal was a good trade especially if they would use him in high leverage situations rather than as a traditional closer I'm less convinced that they needed to stalk up like they did. Although one of Oliver, Cordero and Frasor was important I feel like the emphasis on the pen was excessive, and to some degree it will keep people like Litsch, Carreno, Perez and Beck from getting a decent look in the pen. I also think that the pens failure last year though in part due to bad luck was in part due to mismanagement (using small sample sizes of hitters against individual pitchers rather than a hitter or pitchers carreer splits, etc)
On the other hand...
Despite relievers price relative to WAR being high WAR maybe underrates good relievers because they have show up in high leverage situations and have more of an affect on game outcomes. In other words there WPA (win probability added) is higher relative to there WAR then other baseball positions. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/can-wpa-explain-how-teams-buy-relievers/
Relievers are also both more inconsistent and injury prone and so given their value in affecting game outcomes it may be good to stock them up. It may make more sense to pay for a number of pitchers who could possibly be used in high leverage situations then pay for one who could fail? http://blogs.thescore.com/mlb/2011/11/10/theres-no-need-to-spend-money-on-a-proven-closer/
AA has also explicitly emphasized the importance of mid-season trades to his philosophy and relievers such as League, Frasor, Rzep, and Dotel have been part of trades that have brought significant players back to the Jays. Are relievers possibly overvalued at trade deadlines that make them worth stocking up during the offseason?
What are readers thoughts on the Jays emphasis on relievers this offseason.