Jan. 24: In addition to Madson and Brach (who, as Passan suggested was likely, found a home earlier today when he agreed to a deal with the Cubs), it seems that both Shawn Kelley and Sergio Romo are likely to find a landing spot in the near future.
MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand tweets that Kelley is choosing among three teams and could make a decision on his 2019 home “soon.” Fancred’s Jon Heyman, too, tweets that Kelley is being “heavily pursued,” as are both Madson and Romo.
Kelley, who’ll turn 35 in April, posted a 2.94 ERA with 9.2 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 1.29 HR/9 and a 30.2 percent grounder rate in 49 innings between the A’s and the Nats in ’18 — his third sub-3.00 ERA in the past four seasons.
Romo, meanwhile, helped to pioneer the “opener” role with the Rays last season, making five starts in that still-developing role. The 35-year-old (36 in March) had three very successful outings and one quite ugly showing (three earned runs in a third of an inning) as an opener but turned in a 3.88 ERA with a 68-to-16 K/BB ratio in 62 2/3 innings as a more conventional reliever. Romo nailed down 25 saves for Tampa Bay and turned in a 13 percent swinging-strike ratio and a 33.1 percent chase rate.
Jan. 23: As the second and third tiers of the relief market continue to move, ESPN’s Jeff Passan tweets that there are expected to be a number of one-year agreements in the coming days as teams parse the remainder of the bullpen market (beyond top available reliever Craig Kimbrel). Ryan Madson, in particular, has been a popular target recently, Passan reports, adding that Brad Brach is “another to keep an eye on.”
It’s been fairly quiet on both right-handers this offseason, though Brach has recently been connected to the Twins, who are known to be seeking another veteran reliever after already having signed Blake Parker earlier this month. Of course, there are numerous clubs on the lookout for bullpen help, with the Red Sox, Indians, Cubs and Braves among the teams recently still eyeing relief additions.
Madson, 38, turned in poor bottom-line results but promising secondary numbers in a season split between the Nationals and Dodgers in 2018. Chest and back issues cost Madson about three total weeks of time, but he nonetheless logged 52 2/3 innings with 9.2 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 1.20 HR/9 and a 42.6 percent ground-ball rate. His velocity actually improved over its 2017 levels, as he averaged 95.9 mph on his four-seamer and 95.4 mph on his sinker, per Statcast. Madson also posted a 13.9 percent swinging-strike rate that was his best since returning from a three-year injury absence in 2015.
All of that is to say that while Madson’s 5.47 ERA is clearly unsightly, there are plenty of underlying indicators that he could yet have some run as a quality big league reliever left in his arm. Fielding-independent metrics like FIP (3.98), xFIP (3.97) and SIERA (3.54) all felt that Madson was drastically better than his ERA indicated; the right-hander was, after all, plagued by a .340 average on balls in play and a 64.5 percent strand rate — both of which are significantly out of line with his career levels.
Turning to Brach, the 32-year-old (33 in April) struggled through a tough first half with the Orioles. His walk rate in Baltimore spiked to 4.3 BB/9 — a noted increase from his strong 2016-17 seasons — and he was tagged for a 4.85 ERA through 39 innings before being flipped to the Braves. Brach, though, was torched by a .371 average on balls in play in Baltimore, where a generally poor defensive club didn’t do him many favors. His 12.3 percent swinging-strike rate and 35.9 percent opponents’ chase rate on out-of-zone pitches were both solid marks (particularly the latter), and he did improve both his control and his velocity upon being dealt to the Braves.
Brach ultimately finished out the year with a 3.59 ERA, 8.6 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, 0.72 HR/9 and a 46 percent grounder rate in 62 2/3 frames of bullpen work between the two teams. That’s a solid enough season, though if he’s able to rebound to his 2013-17 form — combined 2.79 ERA, 9.5 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 0.8 HR/9 in 319 2/3 innings — he could prove an even more valuable pickup to his next team.
Ryan Madson!? This dude get his ring from Red Sox yet
Blame Madson more than Roberts for Dodgers losing WS
You mean the guy that was an integral part of the Phillies and Royals WS teams? Sometimes bad series happen.
I’ll take him on the Cubs for a cheap one year deal. The pen is in serious need of help, and even with the age, he’s a decent bounceback candidate. He was great in 2017.
I know it’s one game but he hit 2 batters and gave up the walk off to Sir David Bote
And I thank him for that. One of the best (regular season) Cubs games I can remember. They aren’t signing him anyway though, now that they signed Brach, which I am pleased with.
Yeah he sucked
Meh. Only reason why it wasn’t a sweep was Kinsler. WS was a quickie and a joke.
Not saying the dodgers would have won the World Series, BUT they were just 7 outs away from tying the series (From the moment they took out hold and put Alexander in). They would have had serious momentum winning back to back games heading into game 5. But I tip my cap to the Red Sox, they outplayed us and came up with clutch hits.
Blame Roberts for constantly putting Madson in high pressure situations when he clearly didn’t have it in him.
la lost because they couldn’t get a hit with Runners in Scoring Position and the Sox were just better,sorry if the truth hurts you so much that you blame a reliever,lol
Madsen didn’t just walk on field. Roberts called for him. When I was at nlcs 2016 cub fans cheering every time Roberts our Blanton in.
I’d love to see the Reds sign Madson for a cheap one year deal. Maybe he can earn some of the 10 million they gave him a few years ago to sit on the DL…..
$8.5 million. $6 million for 2012 and $2.5 million to buy out 2013 option.
You’re giving ryan Madson 17 Mil guaranteed coming off a 5+ ERA ~4 FIP season? Youth isn’t exactly on his side either. Any team who offers that much will have him tomorrow….. That’d be bad
It’s a reference to his previous time with Reds. No way in hell they would give him that
That piece of crap intentionally hit Votto in the knee last season. There’s a snowball’s chance in hell they sign him.
amc, Madson has never been that guy..your characterization of him is over the top and unwarranted..
I thought the Cubs were signing Brach?
They are, this article updated after they signed him.
Some comments were made before they signed him
Red Sox held out on JD Martinez and inked him for big steal deal contract. Expect them to do same on Kimbrel, just less hype, less expectation. Team too good, championship window is wide wide wide! Probably not players on second tier, high risk low reward guys like Madson and Brach
Haha… high risk low reward… haha
But J.D. hadn’t been with Boston. The longer the Sox go, the more bitterness will be involved on Kimbrel’s part. I see him going back to Atlanta.
Meh, they offered Arb which was a big payday. I get he wanted multi years but you can’t blame a team for not making you the highest paid closer ever.
Craig Kimbrel has the worst year of his career and made $13MM. I think 4 years / $60 million should be more than enough.
He posted a 2.74 ERA and struck out 14/9. That’s a pretty great down year
I don’t know why the Braves have not resigned Brach already
Because he sucked big time for the Bravos…I dreaded watching him come in…instant inherited runners scoring time after time..nightmare
He wasn’t that bad was used a bit to much down the stretch you ask me but he throws strikes and he has experience
He actually pitched pretty well for the Braves last season.
Smooch the Goose Watson
Are you hightailing deep peyote? Brach had a 1.52 ERA with the Braves. So put down the peace pipe and start doing a real drug like cocaine.
Brach had a 1.52 ERA with the Braves. He inherited 8 runners in 27 appearances and 5 scored. 2 of them on sac flies.
Interestingly, all of them were on 2nd or 3B with less than 2 outs which means he performed better than the RE would say he should have. 82% should have scored instead of the 63% that did.
Stats are almost always better than peoples memory.
5 out of 8 inherited runners scored on Brach for the Braves. Overall for the season, it was 30%
For a guy with a 1.52 ERA over 23.2 innings, giving up 5 IR isn’t that big of a deal.
Even if you had to give him those 5 IR and add them to his 4 ER, you only have a guy with a 3.42 ERA, and that doesn’t count the outs he maintained down the stretch.
Mad Dog still chugging along.
Maddux retired years ago.
Bill Madlock last played in ‘87. Lol.
Mad Dog retired from pro wrestling years ago…
Re; Madson. At what point does the “bottom line” not matter any more? At what point do “great peripherals” wipe out the 5.47 era and the complete meltdown in high leverage (World Series!) situations? Talk about not being able to see the forest for the trees.
Probably because guys who throw 95 mile per hour sinkers are few and far between. A couple of adjustments and this guy can most likely still get guys out.
The pitch grip and radar gun say it a 95 mph sinker. The movement, suggests it flat. The bats pounding it, suggests it flat.
Many who do that? A lot, we think.
So a team isn’t allowed to take a cheap 1 year flier?
Sometimes peripherals are more closely tied to results than traditional stats. For instance,
Chris Bosio 1987: 11-8, 5.24 ERA, 3.38 FIP
Chris Bosio 1988: 7-15, 3.36 ERA, 3.43 FIP.
Which season was “luckier”? Would you rather start ’87 or ’88 Bosio in a big game? I’m not sure there’s an obvious answer, despite the ERA difference.
FIP. Learn it.
You have to then factor in the defense that is playing behind the pitcher. Put my best defense behind Bosio then it improves my chances.
One down year and people are like “How does no one see that he has always been terrible and is irredeemable???”. Look at his stats as recently as 2017, they were great, not just his peripherals
Exactly. We aren’t talking about a 24 year old learning how to control his stuff. You can’t really expect a bounceback on a 37 year old reliever. A high BABIB doesn’t automatically come down, not sure what people can’t understand about that.
They are many relievers that are still free agent and the Cardinals appear to be done. They are not likely to make another move. Wow.
They might be a dark horse for some players
It seems teams have excess pitchers that have been in the high minors or pitchers they tried as a starter that didn’t work out in the majors. With all due respect to Mr. Branch, Mr. Madson and others, teams need to develop pitchers for the front end of their bullpens. They control their rights for years. Work with those pitchers to use just 2 or 3 pitches, move the ball around, and change speeds.
Teams now have bloated coaching and support staffs. They take IPads out to the bullpen to collect video when they work those guys out. Break ’em in doing mop-up.
The Cardinals still have excellent development areas. For them and others it’s simply counter-productive to take guys like this on. They’ve got pitchers in High-A ball that throw 95 fastballs and hard sinkers.
The cardinals have so much relief talent it’s counterproductive to sign Brach? It’s counterproductive because they should be trying to develop a guy into Brad Brach? I hate to tell you but they ran out a few relievers that were serious garbage last year. They replaced Norris with miller. Good start. Adding Brach wouldn’t be counterproductive at all when you’re trying to win a championship. You’re not trying to win lets develop a reliever….Really no correlation between signing Brach and developing your own talent either. There’s more than 1 spot up for grabs in that bullpen.
Cards have a lot of relief options for 2019 that weren’t factors in 18
Helsley, Reyes, Hudson (was a bit in 18, but later call up) and potential rebounds from guys like Leone
Pen has Mayers and Shreve who are out of options.
Miller and Cecil, and I doubt they’ll carry Cecil
Gant or Wainwright (one is likely in the rotation and the other the pen)
And then long options, like Gomber, Hudson, Helsley, Reyes, etc
Then shorter guys, like Brebbia, Hicks, Gregerson, and Gallegos
While I would welcome a bullpen upgrade even if it means a Mayers DFA, I don’t know that anyone out there is a logical upgrade other than Kimbrel
Brach is 32. Guess who was 32 last year and coming off a year worse than Brach? Bud Norris. The Cards brought him in and that wasn’t “counter productive”. They also brought in 32 year old Greg Holland though that didn’t work out so well. Don’t see how you view the Cards as not the types to sign pitchers like this
Would like Brach for the Mets. they have been linked to him for a few years, would fit in nicely for 7th inning.
Please do..the braves need another met to torch
Smooch the Goose Watson
How about the Braves get a starting rotation/bullpen comparable to the Mets and then you can start talking smack about whose torching who.
Ragin' Cajun Brave
But we don’t want a rotation that stays on the DL
So…1 year deal with 1 team option each. Brach easily had the better year, not sure why Madson is even in the same conversation as him. Brach gets $5m or $6m with a $1m buyout and Madson gets half that? Maybe 1/3?
With how well brach did in Atl, they should bring him back not for stupid money but for anything reasonable
He did a fantastic job of letting everyone else’s runners score while making sure none of his own did. A remarkable talent without question
There should be a stat for that.
The Vulture Ratio, or some such.
95mph sinker… that’s pretty nasty. Madson has still has gas in the tank but needs a smart manager who knows how/when to deploy him.
All I know is that the Indians need to get somebody because right now I have visions of Dan Otero pitching the 8th and that’s not something that makes me very comfortable
Terrible last year, great two years ago, sign him to a 1 year prove it deal and hope they have value by the trade deadline… sounds like another Twins signing in the making.
The history of relievers is you avoid the ones who had a good year last year and jump on the ones who were not so good; sure there are exceptions, but in general it’s always good to buy low.
But Madsen is old. Brach, OTOH, is intriguing.
People that say Baileys contract with the Reds was their worst ever…I would argue Madsons by far was…
With Baltimore Brach also had a large difference between his ERA and FIP and xFIP. With Atlanta he was lights out. Overall he was good.
In Baltimore Brach seemed to be a much better pitcher in the 8th. When he had to pitch the 9th it was like watching a different guy. Good bullpen piece but wouldn’t sign him to close.
Agreed. I pointed that out last week and some didn’t like that. Brach is solid. Red Sox might want to get him.
Braves better be bringing back brach … the richest bullpen market I’ve seen in a long time is now very slim. It’s borderline desperation mode to get decent arms for our brutal bullpen. He was a nice little boost for us last year, but he’s not the answer. Need Craig Kimbrell also
See Cubs Sign Brach article.
Who the hello kitty wants Madson!? He’s a dual citizen of every team
Can anyone explain to me why the Braves kept Sam Freeman? He’s 31 years old and has averaged 5 BB/9 and has a 1.41 WHIP over his career. When he comes into the game in a high leverage situation, I want to turn off the tv.
Heck, any time he comes in I want to turn it off.
Interest from the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League?
Could be….we know they’re “in on” Machado and Harper….
On a serious note, Romo did some good things for Rays last year….seems like a reasonable buy-low kind of guy…think he only made 2.5M last year…..
Shawn Kelley to the Reds!!!!
Bud Norris anyone?
Romo “only looks illegal”. One of the core four. You’re talking about a man with a 1.23 ERA in 11 WS games.