Ryan Madson’s Free Agency

Previous update (October 24, 2011):

  • The Nationals may be interested in signing Madson: source.

Paul’s Take: Hm. Where have we heard this one before? An impending Phillies free agent being lured to the nation’s capital on the promise of a career payday? Well, it seems Ryan Madson may be the next such Philly player, joining Jayson Werth, to consider fleeing south. Madson has emerged as one of baseball’s better relievers over the past few seasons – 204 strikeouts in 191 innings since the start of 2009, and an even 4:1 K:BB ratio – but the Phils may have used their Get Out of Jail Free card with Madson’s agent, Scott Boras, when they signed him to a three-year deal before that ’09 season. That deal bought out two free agent years, and Madson may be itching to see what he may have missed out on earlier.

Ryan’s Take: I’m already wondering whether it is worth signing a reliever to Madson’s actual market value. If the Nationals are going to rerun the 2010 offseason and top that value by 30% or more, I’ll be bidding another bittersweet farewell. Madson, by all accounts, loves pitching in Philadelphia, but it sounds so far as if the offers he’ll be seeing this winter will be impossible to turn down. Amaro’s recent comments about looking outside the organization for a veteran reliever portend a serious overpay on the part of the Phillies. Bill was absolutely right when he wrote that the Phillies would do well to be thrifty in assembling the 2012 bullpen, given all we know about relievers and the market for them. Madson’s possible departure, while a definite loss, gives them an opportunity to re-allocate money to other areas of need, and presently, if you believe Amaro’s media face, the Phillies may squander that opportunity entirely.

Bill’s Take: Not much that I can add here. Regular readers of the blog know how much of a Madson fan I am, but I don’t want to keep him at a Boras price. Even if the Phillies raise payroll a bit, I think they would have ¬†hard time adequately plugging every hole while committing, let’s say, $12 million for Madson starting next season. I also have no qualms about going into 2012 with Antonio Bastardo or Jose Contreras as the closer. The one downside I see to passing over Madson is that Amaro said he wants to get a veteran closer from outside the organization. When I hear that, I think of Heath Bell and cringe.

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  1. Phillie697

    October 24, 2011 12:16 PM

    So… If the Nats want Madson, can we have Storen then? Do the Nats think they are the Phillies or something? What the heck are they doing thinking about signing a Madson when they have a perfectly serviceable closer in Storen, and doesn’t look like they’re ready to contend in the immediate future? Altho a team with Strasburg, Jordan Z., Ryan Z., Espinosa, Morse, Werth, Ramos, and Bryce Harper does look mighty scary; they’re one Pujols signing and a mid-rotation starter away from being completely scary.

  2. hk

    October 24, 2011 12:58 PM

    I agree Phillie697. Why would they bother spending what it will most likely cost to land Madson when they have Storen and the resources could be used to lure Pujols or Fielder to DC?

    On a separate note, the Nats finished with the 15th best record in MLB, so if they sign a Type A free agent, they will relinquish their first round pick. This is different from the Werth signing last offseason when their first round pick was protected because they finished 2010 in the bottom 15. Interestingly, the Nats finished 80-81 while the Indians finished 80-82 meaning if the Nats had played their 162nd game, they might have tied the Indians in which case a tie-breaker would have determined which team was 15th and which was 16th.

  3. Jeff P

    October 24, 2011 01:46 PM

    My feeling is that if we are BOUND to overpay for someone, let it be Madson. I’d rather overpay for him than say Papelbon, K-Rod or Bell. The problem is, to get Madson, he may command more than all of those guys, sans Papelbon.

    Obviously bullpen on the cheap is my preferred way to go, followed by the idea of giving Nathan a shot as Gelb mentioned yesterday and spending money elsewhere.

    But if the options are ONLY to go with a top NAME releiver; Madson at 4/45, Bell at 3/35, Papelbon at 4/52 or K-Rod at 3/33, might as well go with Madson. But it’s not option A #1 if I were in charge. That’s even assuming 4/45 gets madson, nats will throw 5/65 at him knowing them…

  4. Publius

    October 24, 2011 02:19 PM

    There’s been speculation that Storen will most likely be the centerpiece of a Nationals trade for a CF, someone like Denard Span or BJ Upton.

  5. Paul Boye

    October 24, 2011 02:30 PM

    Jeff, personally, I’d have a very difficult time paying $10M per year for a reliever. All of those guys are nice pitchers, but that’s serious money. You’d pay a guy half of what Halladay is making for 1/4 the innings?

  6. hk

    October 24, 2011 02:41 PM


    Let’s hope the GM shares your view. Unfortunately, I, apparently like Jeff P, am afraid RAJ will be quick to the market with a big offer to the closer that he prefers most and will probably overpay in both years and dollars. There seems to be an epidemic in this town of GM’s often being first the first buyer in a particular (position) market, ignoring the supply and demand and overpaying in dollars and/or years…the Ibanez, Brand, Polanco and Bryzgolav signings come to mind immediately.

  7. BrandonG

    October 24, 2011 03:54 PM

    $12 million for 60 innings?!?!?!? Where can I sign up!

  8. Baltimore Bob

    October 24, 2011 04:16 PM

    Phillies lost 10 of 18 to the Nationals
    and it wasn’t Werth that beat them as
    it was just ineptness.
    This is the single reason they did Not
    win the World Series.

    I’d prefer to keep Madson as he is young
    while H Bell is old at age 34
    35 in 2012.
    The Phillies have been screwed by the
    old guys on the team in 2011.
    Phillies need to get – Younger.

    Since we paid Lidge $48 Million for
    4 years then paying Ryan the
    equivilent is OK with me.
    Say $50 Million for 4 years.

    Reparations for Vietnam Vets
    Righteous Robert
    Baltimore Bob

  9. Jeff P

    October 24, 2011 04:54 PM

    Paul, no, I wouldn’t want to pay $10M for any reliever. But I’m saying if the decision is $13M a year for Papelbon, $9M a year for K-Rod/Bell or $10/$11 for Madson, lets go for Madson. I’m going by Ruben’s comments that they want a veteran established closer and assuming they’re allocating big money to the position, which I disagree with.

    If I’m the GM of the Phillies, I write Madson off entirely and call for an open competition in the spring between Bastardo, Stutes, Aumont, De Fratus and Schwimer. Hell, give Contreras a shot as well if he’s healthy. But between those guys mentioned plus Herndon and Savery, we can put together a fine bullpen for dirt cheap. If we need bullpen help later, we can get it later.

  10. Greg

    October 24, 2011 05:00 PM

    Isn’t Madson set to be a type A free agent? They Phillies could get a draft pick by offering him arbitration.

  11. Jim

    October 24, 2011 05:31 PM

    I don’t see Madson getting the 8 figure/yr contract people keep saying he is going to get. He’s the #3 option in a very crowded market, behind Papelbon and Bell (who won’t cost draft picks), without a glut of suitors. I’m thinking he’ll probably get a 3yr/$24-27 million deal at most.

    If Rube is smart he’ll wait for the market to shake out a bit, and still be able to get a quality arm for cheap.

  12. jauer

    October 24, 2011 05:58 PM

    I, for one, hope Baltimore Bob is a frequent commenter here.

  13. Dante

    October 25, 2011 09:00 AM

    @ jeff p: You would let 3 unprovens, our only lefty, and a mediocre 7th inning guy vie for the closer role on a championship caliber team? You’ve got balls that RAJ doesn’t.

    @Greg: They will offer him arb knowing that he will turn it down. We will get 2 picks if he gets away, same for Rollins.

    @Jim: I think that deal would normally get Madson, but we may be in a situation where everyone sees him as the “value” option and thus he has more suitors than the overpriced Paps and Bell. This will ensure that he isn’t had on the cheap, and he gets at least 3/30.

  14. Greg

    October 25, 2011 11:07 AM

    @Baltimore Bob-
    Did you just wrote a poem about relief pitchers?

  15. KH

    October 25, 2011 11:29 AM

    I don’t know where people are getting that Bell and Papelbon are percieved as better then Madson. Trust me that Boras is great at selling his clients and right now Madson is a better pitcher then both Papelbon and especially Bell. Bell was relatively lucky this year. He isn’t throwing as hard as in the past and his strikeouts were down quite a bit. I will be extremely unhappy if the Phillies end up with Rodriques or Bell. I would rather hand the job over to Bastardo and hope he is the guy we saw for 90% of the year then spend 8-9 million dollars on old man puncher or fat boy.

  16. Jim

    October 25, 2011 02:38 PM

    They are considered better mainly due to having a longer track record as a closer, and Bell has the added bonus of not costing any draft picks working in his favor.

    Personally I would take Madson over anyone, but reading around the baseball sites most don’t agree with that sentiment.

  17. Css228

    October 25, 2011 11:13 PM

    I’m already missing Madson’s changeup

  18. JB Allen

    October 26, 2011 07:44 AM

    Bill, in a previous posting, you mentioned how Madson is one of the few relievers whose results have been very consistent over the course of his career. To what extent, if at all, do you think a team should be willing to pay more for Madson than another reliever who has flashed comparable skills, but doesn’t have such a consistent track record?

  19. Phillie697

    October 26, 2011 10:03 AM

    @JB Allen,

    Who would this comparable reliever be?

  20. JB Allen

    October 26, 2011 05:06 PM

    Phillie697 – Nobody in particular. I suppose Kyle Farnsworth might be an example of a guy with at least superficially good stuff who can put it together one year and then look terrible the next. If you had five guys like that and were paying them $5 million total, at best you’ll be OK and at worst the sunk costs wouldn’t prevent you from trying other options.

    Bill’s earlier point was: “unless the price is right and you are dealing with Mariano Rivera-types who are eerily consistent from year to year (Madson would fall into this category),” you keep it cheap. That makes sense, but what is the right price for the eerily consistent types? Is it all just dependent upon each team’s strengths and weaknesses, or generally should teams be willing to pay significantly more $/inning for a consistent reliever than $/inning for a “typical” reliever (or even for a consistent starter), since consistent relievers are so scarce?

  21. Bill Baer

    October 26, 2011 05:43 PM

    I don’t know that I have a good answer for you. I think the scientific answer would be to find an expected value for each type and whatever the difference is is how much you would pay extra. But I also think richer teams can simply take that risk whereas teams like the Rays cannot.

  22. JB Allen

    October 27, 2011 08:46 AM

    Whatever the scientific answer would be, I bet the market would give “9th inning guys” a higher value, so a conservative approach to bullpen spending probably makes sense for all but the richest teams.

  23. Phillie697

    October 27, 2011 12:05 PM

    @JB Allen,

    Roy Halladay is pretty “eerily” consistent, and he pitches 4 times the inning as ANY reliever for $20 million. In other words, I don’t even care if it IS Mariano Rivera, even he isn’t worth $12 million a year.

  24. Baltimore Bob

    October 31, 2011 01:16 PM

    QUOTE: By jauer on Oct 24, 2011

    I, for one, hope Baltimore Bob is a frequent commenter here.

    Poem about Relief Pitchers
    I tried to write some Poems in 11th grade
    and my English teacher
    (who later we found out
    to be Gay) must have thrown up.
    I did give him One of the Greatest Moments
    in the his History of Teaching as I did a
    Book report about Ray Bradbury’s F… 451
    And I entered the class with a Fire
    CO2 Extinguisher going full blast at
    the student’s feet.
    He still remembers it today as I heard
    from my brother who graduated in 1978
    10 years after me as my class with him
    was in 1966-67 – 45 years ago today.
    One of my Finest moments in HS.

    Righteous Robert
    Baltimore Bob

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