A few thoughts on Ryan Madsons signing with the Cincinnati Reds (see story):
The risks of business
Phillies officials went into the off-season knowing they needed a closer. Consistent with their style, they wanted to strike quickly. Consistent with their club, they wanted a top talent. They immediately focused on two free agents Madson and Jonathan Papelbon. Madson was coming off four excellent seasons in the Phils bullpen and four strong months as the teams closer. He was the early focus of the teams closer search and, based on conversations with people on both sides of the situation, I firmly believe that a three-year deal worth in the neighborhood of 30 million was there for the taking in Philadelphia if Madson wanted it.
Of course, the team received signs from agent Scott Boras that three years wasnt going to cut it, so the Phillies initiated discussions with Papelbon. The Phils believed Papelbon was a superior talent to Madson and when they heard they could get him on a four-year deal they moved quickly on it.
Weeks later, Madson finally found the closers job hed been looking for but there was no multi-year deal and nothing close to the 30 million that we believe he could have gotten in Philadelphia. According to reports, he received a one-year deal from Cincinnati worth 8.5 million, plus incentives.
On the one hand, it was bad business for Madson not to seize the opportunity we believe he could have had in Philadelphia. But, its not crippling. Not in the least. Madson is headed to a good club and will have the opportunity to rack up a lot of saves and go back out on the free-agent market next winter and possibly land an even bigger payday than he could have had in Philadelphia. One-year deals can be risky because injury can strike at any time in pro sports, but Madson could still end up making a good business decision -- if he performs well in 2012.
We hear that relations between Madson and the Phillies became strained after negotiations between the two parties fell apart in November and the Phils signed Papelbon. We hear that the Phillies actually wanted to feel out Madson about the possibility of returning as a setup man on a one-year deal, but he didnt return their calls. Madson spent 14 years in the Phillies organization and his ascension to elite status helped them win five division titles and the World Series in 2008. Its too bad that matters of business can affect personal relationships, but this is not the first time something like this has happened in sports.
According to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Phillies will receive two compensatory draft picks for Madson. One of those picks will come between the first and second rounds of the draft; the other will come in the second round. Both are supplementary selections, meaning Cincinnati will not surrender a pick.
E-mail Jim Salisbury at email@example.com