Free Agent Stock Watch: Ryan Madson

Is it possible for a free agent to have much stock after he missed the entire season due to injury? It is when you've been one of the best relief pitchers in baseball for the last half-decade and are still just 32 years old.

Uspw_5547164The Reds invested a one-year, $8.5MM contract in Ryan Madson last winter only to watch him blow out his elbow and require Tommy John surgery near the end of Spring Training. They came into today with an 11-game lead in the NL Central thanks in part to Aroldis Chapman, who has emerged as one of the two or three most dominant closers in baseball in Madson's stead. The team survived the injury just fine.

Madson, however, faces an uncertain offseason. He pitched to a 2.89 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 329 2/3 innings from 2007-2011, including a 32-save campaign in his walk year last season. Agent Scott Boras spent the offseason trying to secure a multiyear pact – at one point it appeared that Madson would be returning to the Phillies before they signed Jonathan Papelbon – before taking the one-year deal from the Reds in late-January.

There isn't much precedent for relievers entering free agency coming off Tommy John surgery, but Manny Corpas did it a year ago. He ultimately took a minor league contract with the Rangers before hooking on with the Cubs this past winter. Given his pedigree, Madson should still be able to land a guaranteed contract this offseason, though it might be of the low-base salary plus incentives variety.

It's worth noting that there is an $11MM mutual option ($2.5MM buyout) in Madson's contract with the Reds. It seems likely that he would exercise his half of the option, but the Reds are unlikely to do the same given Chapman's emergence plus Sean Marshall's presence as the backup plan. Acquiring a pitcher of Madson's caliber on a low-base salary deal is very intriguing and something I'm sure multiple clubs will offer him after the season.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.

26 Responses to Free Agent Stock Watch: Ryan Madson Leave a Reply

  1. start_wearing_purple 3 years ago

    I’d imagine like last offseason Boras will do everything he can to make sure Madson gets a closer position rather than a set up position and I’m guessing a lot of the offers Madson will get won’t garuentee him that.

    My guess, the Indians on a $3M-$4M base with bonuses for the number of innings pitched and games finished. If they’re really planning on getting rid of Perez, I can think of worse gambles than Madson.

    • johnsilver 3 years ago

      He might not even be full strength at ST, much less when games count is the problem. Boras wants a closer job and he goes “2nd tier” teams and still isn’t going to get close to 7m is my guess.

      I see madson as a very late sign, with Boras (as you posted) struggling to find him a closers job that isn’t there on a contender, simply because no contender is willing to commit to one coming off of TJ surgery and rightfully so.

      Maybe even during ST before Madson signs. Another case here where Boras is hurting his client, just like last off season with him when he could have had a LT deal earlier.. Think Madson will learn his lesson and unload Boras?

      • start_wearing_purple 3 years ago

        You can’t really blame Boras for last offseason. Madson was supposed to be an easy sell. Then Paps signed almost instantly, the Red Sox went in an unexpected direction, and the Rangers went to rehab route.

        Though how hard Boras works on Madson this offseason depends on whether or not Soriano opts out. If he does opt out then Boras will spend more time on Soriano.

        • johnsilver 3 years ago

          Later in the off season he could have still gotten that 8-10m over 3-4 years. A closer is the most volatile position in the game and even Boras should realize that.

          He had all winter to find a team, it’s not as if Papelbon was a late sign, but u know Boras.. Papelbon got 50m and madson had to get more.. It’s how he operates and doesn’t matter if it hurts the client or not.

          • start_wearing_purple 3 years ago

            You pretty much ignored what I just said. The teams that could afford a $10M closer and needed a closer was fairly limited. Both the Phillies and Rangers found alternate choices early and Boston surprised everyone by not spending money. It left Madson and Boras with only a few choices: sign for less money as a set up man or sign a one-year deal.

  2. 10milner 3 years ago

    As a Reds fan, I’d like to see him stay with the club. Chapman would look good in starting rotation.

    • LazerTown 3 years ago

      I’d really like to see what he could do if he was starting. He could be a very dominant young pitcher.

      • dc21892 3 years ago

        It would be a fun experiment but it could destroy his career.

  3. emayer 3 years ago

    The Phillies should try to get him back if he’s going to be relatively cheap and is willing to try to prove himself in a non-closer role again.

  4. diehardmets 3 years ago

    Given the Mets bullpen woes and salary constraints, he seems like a good buy low option (similar to Melky).

  5. GStill45 3 years ago

    A high-end pitcher coming off of Injury? This reeks of a Red Sox pickup. They’ll have Madson and Bailey, and hope one is healthy enough to close.

    • johnsilver 3 years ago

      Very last thing Boston needs is RP, even if they move Aceves.

      Craig Breslow

      All those are going to be on the roster + VERY effective unless they make a move.

      Also have:
      Daniel Bard
      Chris Carpenter
      Alex Wilson

      • GStill45 3 years ago

        The only guy on that list that can close games is Bailey and he’s fabrege egg fragile. If Madson can be had for a one-year incentive-laden deal, the Sox will be in on him.

        • johnsilver 3 years ago

          Closers are developed from trial and error. Tazawa has closer “stuff”, ditto Carpenter. Bard was going to be the closer, before the ill thought out attempt to convert him to start and if his mechanics are repaired? he can close.

          I wouldn’t even say Andrew Miller is not capable of closing, now that he is 1 full season removed from having his mechanics fixed after being destroyed by Detroit and Marlins coaching.

          • GStill45 3 years ago

            I’ll say it then. Miller is not capable of closing. He’s nothing more than a lefty specialist now. Bard is a head case, and if the Sox had any confidence in his closing ability, they wouldn’t have given Bobby Jenks a 2-year deal. Tazawa is intriguing, but I think he’s more likely to be stretched out as a spot starter.

            The Red Sox have money to spend. They love these medical rehab projects. The Sox dealt Josh Reddick and Jed Lowrie to get bullpen arms. If they can get a guy of Madson’s ceiling on a one-year deal with incentives, they’ll jump on it.

          • johnsilver 3 years ago

            Boston didn’t have anyone capable of throwing the 8thIP when they signed Jenks.. Look over that list above.. Tazawa had just gone “under the knife” for TJ, Francona never gave Atch a long enough chance,Hill they were still teaching how to change his mechanics (now HE is a LH specialist) and they were working on Miller’s mechanics.

            None of the others were even a member of the Sox organization, except for Alex Wilson who was a SP at AA Portland.

  6. Gurvir Nijjar 3 years ago

    I think the Jays make a run at Madson. He’d look good as a set up man or closer.

    • $17867741 3 years ago

      Santos/Janssen are likely taking closer/setup man duo. Also their bullpen is pretty full right now.

  7. JustFatOlMe 3 years ago

    Come on Cubs,jump on this!

  8. Mike1L 3 years ago

    A low risk Yankee pickup assuming Soriano opts out and Rivera comes back.

    • Lionel Bossman Craft 3 years ago

      Yea but the only thing is he’s a Boras agent.

      • Mike1L 3 years ago

        Excellent point. However, Boras is always after the biggest buck. Maybe he has Soriano opting out, assuming the Yankees will offer. Then he has 14.5M in the bank while he shops Soriano. Madson isn’t going to get a first tier offer anyway. If the Yankees don’t offer, then he sells Madson on a one year deal to the Yankees, He’s not going to hurt his value there.

  9. randomkeys 3 years ago

    If he becomes a $1M+incentive kind of pitcher, what team wouldn’t want him? Even with a not-quite-stellar track record, Madson is still likely to be a better middle-of-the-bullpen guy than most teams already have.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see just about everyone in the league offer him an incentive-laden deal. (Of course, Boras will probably then faux-negotiate between six or eight mystery teams, driving the price first to $6M/2, then $12M/3, then finally pretend that several teams are battling over a $20M/4 contract that doesn’t really exist. Eventually, Madson will get next to nothing, and wind up pitching the sixth inning for the Padres or something.)

  10. ssjchaseutley 3 years ago

    Hmm…I’d like him to return to the Phillies…he would solidify the bullpen in a terrific way.

    But if he doesn’t return, I wouldn’t be surprised. The relationship between Amaro and Boras seems very strained.

  11. Phillies_Aces35 3 years ago

    He’d probably never come back but it’d be nice to having the red and white pin stripes again.

  12. $17867741 3 years ago

    Very possible. Rays are known for taking amazing chances, and amazing bargains on their closers. Somehow it always works out for them.

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