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Ryan Madson and Blue Jays Prospects

November 9, 2011


Ryan Madson is allegedly close to signing a $44M 4-year deal to remain a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated tweeted,

“after [Ruben] Amaro [Jr.] agreed to $44M, 4-yr Madson deal, Amaro said he’d have to get [Phillies CEO David] Montgomery’s OK, source said. Still waiting.”

Furthermore as per Yahoo! Sports’ Tim Brown tweeted, not only is this a $44M 4-year deal to a closer it also included a,

“Fifth-year option worth 13 mil”

I won’t go into how stupid I think this deal is. I am not a Phillies fan, could not care less who signs Madson, how much the Phillies choose to pay him, how long they opt to secure the contract for or anything like that. That is a Phillies fan’s problem. I think Oakland proved very well that closers simply aren’t worth the amount we pay them in the early 2000’s and if other teams choose not to heed that message, no skin off our backs. But with all that said, a good closer is worth something – even if on the field it is perhaps at times more psychological than real, and Oakland has a good closer in Andrew Bailey.

If Madson is getting $44M over four years, with a fifth year worth $13M added on as an option what that says is that the market for a 1.7 WAR closer, with exactly one full-year of closing experience is worth $11M a year and can reasonably fetch a four-year deal. Madson and Scott Boras, his agent, better be getting some flowers and knife sets from Jonathan Papelbon because Papelbon’s contract ask just went way up. Madson was great in 2011, 2.25 FIP, 9.2 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 only 0.3 HR/9 good low 2.37 ERA and converted 94.1% of his save opportunities. Great stuff. But that was just last year. For his career he has a 3.68 FIP, 7.8 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9 and an OK 3.59 ERA and given that he has been a middle reliever most of that time we won’t include the fact he only has converted for his career about two-thirds of his save opportunities. But compare that to Papelbon in 2011 first: 1.53 FIP, 12.2 K/9, 1.4 BB/9 and 0.4 HR/9 with a 2.94 ERA and a 91.2% save conversion. Yet for his career here is where he even sets himself up more: 2.60 FIP, 10.7 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9 with a 2.33 ERA and 88.3% save conversion. For Papelbon, $44M over four-years with a $13M option for a fifth year isn’t a comparable it is a floor. Again, enter Andrew Bailey.

Bailey won’t cost a team anywhere near $11M a season. Bailey isn’t locked up for four years – a scary investment when it comes to a closer if you’re asking me. Andrew Bailey is arbitration eligible and projects to earn about $3.4M this coming season or a little less than a third of what Madson will earn, and we can only guess the fraction of what Papelbon will get. And here’s the rub, Bailey is good. In 2011: 2.86 FIP, 8.9 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9 with a 3.24 ERA and converted  92.3% of his save opportunities. Also unlike Madson even, Bailey has been a full-time closer in Oakland for three seasons, during which he has racked up a 2.74 FIP, 9.0 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9 with a 2.07 ERA and 89.3% of his opportunities have resulted in saves. He is a Grade-A closer. And naturally teams balking at a $11M price tag have come calling, most noted are the Toronto Blue Jays which Buster Olney of ESPN noted,

“were tied for third in blown saves in 2011 with 25, and in the still of the offseason, club officials will inevitably play the what-if game [after finishing at 81-81] (and you can’t blame them).”

Bailey suits Toronto’s needs well and looking to compete, Toronto may have prospects to deal. The bigger issue though is this, if we are rebuilding, or even if we aren’t, we likely aren’t competing for a division crown in 2012. We do not need a big name closer and thanks Madson and subsequently Papelbon, the return for Bailey might never be higher.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. elmaquino permalink
    November 10, 2011 5:38 pm

    Madson seems widely overrated to me, and a deal like that would prove that the Phillies are over rating him too.

    • November 10, 2011 9:57 pm

      Well it seems like the deal has either fallen through or never existed. I think closers altogether are overrated. That said, to offer four years to a reliever I think is pure insanity to any reliever anywhere at any time.


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