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Ryan Madson Rumors
MLBTradeRumors is introducing a new series in which two comparable free agents are analyzed side by side. Each post will conclude with a reader vote on the value of the two players.
Coming into the season, Ryan Madson and Joakim Soria were two of baseball’s truly elite relievers. They combined to throw zero meaningful pitches in 2012. Both right-handers missed the season with Tommy John surgery and will hit the open market as free agents this winter. They figure to be in high demand despite their injuries, but is one preferable to the other?
Madson, 32, has just one season as a closer to his credit (2011), but from 2009-2011 he was a high-strikeout (9.6 K/9) and low-walk (2.4 BB/9) late-inning reliever for the Phillies. His best pitch is a low-to-mid-80s changeup, a pitch that generally puts less stress on the elbow than sliders or curveballs. In addition to the elbow reconstruction, Madson has missed time with a hand contusion (2011), a toe fracture (2010), and a shoulder strain (2007) in recent years.
Soria, 28, is actually recovering from his second Tommy John procedure. He’s been closing games since the middle of 2007, and owns a 9.7 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 for his career. Soria is the rare four-pitch reliever, using two breaking balls (slider and curveball) in addition to his changeup and low-90s fastball. He missed time with a shoulder strain in 2009 and an oblique strain in 2011.
The Royals intend to buy out Soria’s club option for next year and negotiate a new deal, but either way he and Madson will have little trouble landing work this offseason given their pedigrees. Almost every team will have interest in signing one or both guys to one-year, low base salary, incentive-laden contracts in the coming weeks.
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.
The 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.
Last offseason's Hot Stove was notable for the hefty contracts signed by the likes of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, but the abundance of closers in free agency was an interesting secondary arc. A few stoppers signed for big bucks, and if there were any takeaway, it was that many teams have not necessarily adopted a frugal philosophy with respect to bullpen spending.
The upcoming offseason's class of free-agent closers is pretty interesting, too, and several of its potential members have options for 2013. Here's a list of those pitchers and a very preliminary look at whether their options figure to be picked up:
- Matt Capps (2013 age: 29), $6MM club option with a $250K buyout: Capps' signing this offseason was maligned after he pitched poorly in 2011, but the Twins' bullpen was pretty barren, so it may have been a devil-you-know situation. He's pitching roughly the same so far this year, but the guess here is that if they were willing to bring him back after last year, they'll be willing to do so again. He could be a trade candidate, but I'm not sure there will be takers.
- Ryan Madson (32), $11MM mutual option with a $2.5MM buyout: The Reds will be on the hook for at least $2.5MM, so will they want to gamble an extra $8.5MM on a guy coming off Tommy John surgery? With Aroldis Chapman and Sean Marshall in the back of the Reds' bullpen, I think they'll pass.
- J.J. Putz (36), $6.5MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout: Putz is getting on in years, and his health is always a concern (including a DL stint during his brilliant 2011), but the right-hander is really good when he's on the mound. If he can get through this year relatively unscathed in terms of injury, which is no sure thing, I think the Diamondbacks will roll the dice, seeing as the penalty for snake eyes is relatively low.
- Joakim Soria (29), $8MM club option with a $750K buyout: Similar to the Reds and Madson, the Royals will have a tough decision to make with Soria coming off (a second) Tommy John surgery. They've been very reluctant to part with him via trade previously, so I'm thinking they'll pick up the option just to save face and see what he can yield — either in terms of on-field contributions or perhaps a trade later in the season if he comes back healthy.
- Huston Street (29), $9MM mutual option with a $500K buyout if club declines: The Padres will likely look to trade Street before this year's deadline, so his recent injury development must make them a little nervous. He has plenty of time to get healthy before the deadline, though, and I'd expect the Friars to move hard to flip him. If they can't, they could always pick up the option and then look to trade him again next summer.
- Grant Balfour (35), $4.5MM club option with a $350K buyout: The A's will be shopping Balfour hard before the deadline, as he'll draw plenty of interest, as MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith recently noted. Wherever he is, his option will look pretty attractive, with his durability and effectiveness probably trumping any concerns over his age.
- Rafael Soriano (33), $14MM player option or a $1.5MM buyout: Soriano is very likely to exercise this option, meaning the Yankees will almost certainly be paying this hefty tab in 2013. The temptation may be there for Soriano to decline and rake in another two- or three-year deal elsewhere on the market, but he can get one of those after 2013, assuming for health.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. discussed the upcoming season with Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, addressing stars such as Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence along the way. Here are the details on the five-time defending NL East Champions:
- The Phillies are optimistic that John Mayberry Jr. can add offense in left field. “We believe in the things he can do,” Amaro said. “Laynce Nix is a good complement to him out there in left field. Hopefully we can get the production we need out of those guys.”
- Amaro said he feels “awful” for Ryan Madson personally, but expressed confidence that the longtime Phillies reliever will come back. Madson will miss the 2012 season to recover from Tommy John surgery.
- Cole Hamels is on track to hit free agency after the season, but the GM hinted that an extension remains possible, saying the club can afford to have three $20MM pitchers in the rotation. “I know we can,” Amaro said.
- It’s possible though not necessarily probably that the Phillies will sign Hamels, Pence and Victorino long-term.
The elbow injury to Reds closer Ryan Madson will require Tommy John surgery, ending the right-hander's season, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (via Twitter). The Reds do not have insurance on Madson's one-year, $8.5MM contract, Fay tweets.
The market didn't go Madson's way this winter and the Scott Boras client wound up settling for considerably less than most anticipated. The injury will not only cost the closer his 2012 season, but likely major cash on his next contract. At one point, it seemed as though Madson and the Phillies were closing in on a four-year, $44MM pact, but that never came to fruition.
- Reds closer Ryan Madson still believes that the Phillies offered him a $44MM contract in November, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro denies that any sort of proposal was offered while agent Scott Boras has a different story.
- Brewers closer John Axford expects extension talks to begin soon as his agent, Dan Horwits, is in town to meet with the club, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel. Axford also says that he won't set a deadline for the talks as he doesn't believe that they would be a distraction to him during the season.
- Multiple scouts told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (via Twitter) that the Mets haven't been looking for a backup lefty hitting outfielder as of late. Right now it looks like the club will turn to Adam Loewen or Mike Baxter rather than add someone from the outside.
- The Indians are looking for a leftfielder but have no interest in Johnny Damon because of his lackluster defense, a Cleveland front office executive told Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Twitter link). In an interview with Bowden on MLB Network Radio this week, the veteran said that he plans to take his time in choosing a team as he looks for an everyday job.
- The Red Sox's signing of Simon Mercedes marks a change in the club's approach to the international amateur market under new director of international scouting Eddie Romero, writes Alex Speier of WEEI.com. Speier writes that former VP of International Scouting Craig Shipley would never have signed Mercedes because the right-hander lied about his documentation.
Much of the recent chatter surrounding the Reds has focused on a possible extension for Brandon Phillips. Here are a few links about Phillips' teammates as Spring Training gets started in Goodyear, Arizona…
- Joey Votto said he prefers to keep contract talk to himself, his agent and the Reds, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “As much as people, players want to say, ‘no, it’s not a distraction.’ It’s exhausting. It’s a lingering issue," he said, before making reference to Prince Fielder 's new deal. Last month I suggested it could cost upwards of $160MM in additional commitments to keep Votto in a Reds uniform through 2020
- Reds closer Ryan Madson told ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick that he remains a Scott Boras client.“I plan on being with Scott for the foreseeable future,” Madson said. “Everything is the same." Madson signed for $8.5MM this offseason — less than originally anticipated.
- Scott Rolen told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com that he’s focused on the upcoming season, not whether he’ll continue playing beyond 2012. The third baseman turns 37 in April and is entering the final year of his contract.
Let's celebrate perhaps the last year of a six-team NL Central with spring training links for all the clubs…
- Pirates infielder Gustavo Nunez, who was taken from the Tigers in December's Rule 5 draft, was placed on the 60-day DL with a right ankle injury, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Side effects of the move: the Pirates buy some time before deciding whether to put Nunez on the 25-man roster, and a 40-man roster spot is opened for new acquisition A.J. Burnett.
- The Burnett acquisition creates competition at the back end of the Pirates' rotation, writes Biertempfel. He believes Kevin Correia and Jeff Karstens will battle for the last spot, if everyone is healthy. Burnett talked to reporters this morning. One interesting news tidbit was his comment that one ever asked him about a potential Angels trade, though he confirmed he's not interested in the West Coast for family reasons. Unprompted, Burnett debunked the rumors about his wife's transportation preferences, saying with a smile, "She loves to fly."
- Ryan Madson's $8.5MM commitment with the Reds is spread out over three budgets, explains ESPN's Buster Olney: "$2MM during the 2012 season, $2MM in deferred salary on Nov. 1, 2012 — which is the start of the 2013 budget — and another $2MM in deferred salary, without interest, on Nov. 1, 2013, at the outset of the 2014 fiscal year. In the middle of that, they have a $2.5MM buyout on an $11 million option for 2013." On the topic of his one-year deal, Madson told MLB.com's Mark Sheldon, "I take it as motivation to show people again, to prove that it's real. It's unfortunate it's that way but I'm not complaining. I'm very happy. I'm very privileged to have this opportunity, and I just want to run with it and show people that I will be OK."
- Righty Brett Tomko always wanted to come back to Cincinnati, he told John Fay of the Enquirer. Tomko said it's taken two years to recover from a 2009 pinched nerve.
- The Astros could have a new player at all nine positions for Opening Day 2012 compared to '11, writes Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle.
- Astros 2010 supplemental first-round pick Mike Kvasnicka is moving back to catcher from third base, tweets Levine. Kvasnicka was recently ranked 25th among Astros prospects by Baseball America.
- "I'm not one to look back with animosity, however people or fans want to view my time there," former Cubs GM Jim Hendry told Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. Hendry noted that it was "just nice" to be wanted by the Yankees, "the most storied franchise in sports." He's now with the Yankees as a special assistant to GM Brian Cashman, and isn't worrying about becoming a GM again.
- "They always say contract years turn out to be great years," Brewers starter Chris Narveson mentioned to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum are entering contract years, while Randy Wolf has a $10MM club option for '13 with a $1.5MM buyout.
- Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright refuses to put a limit on his innings following 2011 Tommy John surgery, he told MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch, but she notes that GM John Mozeliak has said 200 frames is likely out of the question.
Joey Votto’s under contract for two more seasons, but recent deals for Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols show it won’t be easy to keep the first baseman in Cincinnati beyond 2013. Earlier today I suggested it could cost upwards of $160MM in additional commitments to keep Votto in a Reds uniform through 2020. Here’s the latest on the Reds, starting with Votto…
- Reds CEO Bob Castellini believes the team could initiate extension talks with Votto this year, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. "I think Walt has been in pursuit of that for a while," Castellini said. "It's something we know is a big challenge for us. It's certainly is desirable."
- Brandon Phillips says he’s going to leave discussions about an extension up to his agent, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I'm not tripping about it,” the second baseman said.
- The MLB Players’ Association values Ryan Madson’s contract with the Reds at $8.25MM, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. One third of Madson’s $6MM salary is deferred without interest in 2012, Rosenthal writes. The deal includes an $11MM mutual option for 2013 with a $2.5MM buyout.
If any doubt remained about the Reds' intentions for the 2012 season, it has now disappeared — they're going for it. GM Walt Jocketty continued adding to his new-look pitching staff by officially agreeing to terms with Ryan Madson on a one-year, $8.5MM deal. Scott Boras represents the right-hander, who will become the closer in Cincinnati's bullpen.
The contract includes incentives and a 2013 mutual option. Madson will earn $6MM in 2012 and the deal includes an $11MM option with a $2.5MM buyout for 2013.
Madson posted a 2.37 ERA with 9.2 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 48.8% ground ball rate in 60 2/3 innings for the Phillies in 2011. The 31-year-old saved 32 games in his first full season as a closer.
The Reds don't have to surrender a draft pick to sign Madson, but the Phillies will obtain two picks this June because they offered arbitration after the season. One selection will come before the Reds' second round pick and the other will come in the supplementary first round.
Madson could cash in next offseason if he repeats his 2011 performance in Cincinnati. He appeared to be close to signing a $44MM contract with the Phillies early in the offseason, but talks fell through and Jonathan Papelbon signed in Philadelphia, leaving Madson in a market that has slowed down for relievers.
Francisco Cordero had been talking with the Reds throughout the offseason, but it seems unlikely that he'll return to Cincinnati at this point.
Right-handers Nick Masset, Logan Ondrusek, Jose Arredondo, Sam LeCure and Andrew Brackman figure to join Madson in the Reds' bullpen mix in 2012. The Reds also have an impressive trio of left-handers: Sean Marshall, Bill Bray and Aroldis Chapman.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported the move. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick added the financial terms and John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, MLB.com's Mark Sheldon and ESPN's Jayson Stark added detail. Photo courtesy Icon SMI.