Multiyear contracts are on the rise in general, and one group in particular has benefitted from the trend: relief pitchers. As MLBTR's free agent tracker shows, 11 relievers have signed multiyear deals so far this offseason. Many of these relievers will pick up saves in 2011, but only one of them – Mariano Rivera – is sure to be his team's closer next year.
Yahoo's Jeff Passan argues that GMs "make the same silly mistake year after year" when they sign relievers to multiyear deals. Dave Cameron of FanGraphs recently explained convincingly that other than Rivera, relievers on multiyear deals have simply not produced.
But if a GM refuses to offer multiyear deals, the best free agents will sign elsewhere. Teams with money can often afford to gamble on relievers, even though their performance is volatile.
Look at the GMs who have signed relievers to multiyear deals: Ned Colletti and Tony Reagins have led their clubs to the League Championship Series in recent years. And every other GM who has signed a reliever to a multiyear deal this winter has led a team to the World Series. It would be overly simplistic to say these executives don't know what they're doing, but we can still ask the question…