Phillies/Madson Deal Could Set the Market Too High

The Phillies are reportedly in discussions to sign closer Ryan Madson to a 4-year, $44MM contract.  If they do, they will set the bar for the free agent closers market.

It’s an inordinately high number of years and money for a closer.  The agreement would be similar, if less dramatic, to the 7-year, $126MM deal signed by Jayson Werth last offseason.  That contract drove the market for position players.  Later that winter, the Red Sox signed Carl Crawford to a 7-year, $142MM deal and Adrian Gonzalez to a 7-year $154MM deal.

This offseason, if Madson is signed, free agent closers like Jonathan Papelbon will be licking their chops.  And teams like the Mets, who desperately need a ninth-inning solution, will be palming their foreheads.

The Mets will likely not sign someone like Jonathan Papelbon, who figures to already require “Ryan Madson money.”  But the market price will rise for closers like ex-Mets Heath Bell and Francisco Rodriguez, as well as riskier free agents like Francisco “CoCo” Cordero (at 37 years old, age is his risk), Frank Francisco (health), Brad Lidge (health), and Joe Nathan (age and health).

New York is also thin on in-house options.  Both Bobby Parnell and Manny Acosta were given chances to close in September.  Parnell blew 4 of 7 save chances that month.  Acosta enjoyed some success, converting 4 out 6 save opportunities.  Given the small sample size, however, he was not impressive enough to earn the ninth inning job for 2012.  Jason Isringhausen did yeoman’s work following K-Rod’s departure, but the 38 year-old was obviously never in the team’s long-term plans.

In addition, GM Sandy Alderson has stated that revamping the bullpen will be a priority.  “Of course the bullpen was a big disappointment — overall and certainly the last two months of the season,” he said.  Certainly, he will look outside the organization for help.

With the Alderson’s team already on a tight budget, their search for a new closer will become that much more difficult.  So, keep an eye on the negotiations between the Phillies and Ryan Madson.  The outcome will affect the Mets.


Paul is a freelance writer, blogger, and broadcast technology professional residing in Denver. A New Jersey native, he is a long-suffering Mets fan, a recently-happy Giants fan, and bewildered Islanders fan. He's also a fair-weather Avalanche and Rockies supporter. In his spare time, he enjoys the three Gs: Golf, Guitars, and Games.
  1. Walnutz15 November 9, 2011 at 4:30 pm
    This deal is nuts, by the way.

    $11MM/per for 4 years
    $13MM option for the 5th year

    Wow – typing it out…..that’s even more nuts than it was 30 seconds ago.

    I mean, that’s essentially the “going rate” (::rolls eyes::) for a closer in this day and age.

    Figure you’re going to drop $10MM/per at least, for a premium guy (I’m talking the Rivera’s and Papelbon’s of the world) – but that’s not to say I agree with it…..

    ………especially on a 4, possibly 5-year commitment.

    The Phillies’ financial situation is completely different than ours at this point in time, however – seeing as they sell out every game down there.

    Keep winning, and you can “afford” to make these kinds of commitments. Interested in seeing how long he’s able to produce on that kind of deal.

    …..’cuz it’s definitely not one I would have preferred to dish out for Ryan Madson. Sounded like someone was hittin’ the bottle a bit the other night, and higher-ups are now realizing what kind of repercussions this might have with some other arms on the market.

  2. MikeT November 9, 2011 at 4:37 pm
    This is the most ridiculous contract I think I’ve ever seen. Why do the Phillies continue to believe they need to spend money on their pitching when their offense is the reason they keep losing in the playoffs? I’m not complaining, mind you.

    Thing is there’s irrefutable evidence to support NEVER signing a pitcher of any sort to a multi-year contract. After they pass arbitration let them go. The Phillies are likely to regret this deal. It is just so awful I cannot find the words to express it. I’m thrilled they think this is a good idea, but I wonder how it will set the market.

  3. izzy November 9, 2011 at 4:46 pm
    Your headline is a myth. The market is never too high or too low. The market is exactly what will bear. If it too high for the Mets then the Mets should have different ownership. Walnutz says you figure to pay Rivera or Oapelpohn 10 mil. They both made well in excess of 10 mil last year. Mike t doesn’t ever want to give out a multi year deal to a pitcher. I guess uyou don’t ever want your team to be a winner then Mike because you will never have the luck to have enough young pitchers at the same exact instant to win. And if you do, the next miracle wiull be after your lifetime is over.
    • MikeT November 10, 2011 at 11:20 am
      Izzy name me one good “reasonable” multi year deal given to a starting pitcher after his arbitration years are over. So basically non-extensions through the arbitration years. There basically are none. Sabathia might be considered for that except that he gets way above his actual value and the Yankees have so much money to throw around that they hardly feel the affect of over paying. But they do only have one ring with CC, so the jury is still out on that one.
  4. Joe November 9, 2011 at 5:24 pm
    Mariano is being paid 14.9. Guy has been doing this since ’97. How long has Madson being doing it?

    As to Izzy, “too high” references the Mets. We all know capitalism and all that, but the market can be too high for what a team has or is willing to pay. No “myth” there.

    The throwing money at the player approach has not meant lack of bargains and reasonable players. The Mets should be able to find someone. Tampa did pretty well with Kyle Farnsworth. Really, who expected he would be a credible closer?

    A decent set-up guy, maybe. And, the Mets is not destined, as the Rays were last year, for a decent (if long shot playoffs) year of at least a few games above .500 baseball. Mediocre is cheaper. When they are more likely to be playoff caliber, a year or two from now, they might have more money to play with. Take that salary drain, Bay, off the books, for example.

  5. Walnutz15 November 9, 2011 at 5:58 pm
    Izzy, we all know player salaries – and can look them up online.

    I never said that’s what Rivera or Papelbon “made” – might wanna review reading comprehension, and look up the definition of “at least”…..

    As I always say, and frequently do on here – whenever we’ve discussed closers, for years now…..nobody needs to drop that kind of money on the most overrated “position” in the game. Even $10MM/per is too high for a closer.

    Nobody pitches like Rivera, over the length of time that he’s done it.

    Nobody should get paid like he does.

    Especially Ryan Madsen…….and I like him.

    Pretty dip-sh**ty of you, that all you’ve gotten from my post is “I don’t ever want my team to be a winner”.


  6. Christopher Soto November 10, 2011 at 1:00 pm
    Think of all contracts as raises from a job.

    Madson was paid $4.83MM last year to be the closer. Madson pitched to a 2.2 WAR in 2011 which is above average material.

    Knowing that as a GM does that mean that the guy DESERVES a pay raise of 227% of his previous year’s salary especially when a market price has not been set yet in a year where above average to top quality closers are readily available?

    IMO absolutely not. Terrible contract that drives up the cost of the remaining closers on the market.

  7. mic November 10, 2011 at 4:07 pm
    The market is acliche. frankly every offseason there are good deals and bad. Reyes WONT be a good contract.

    Why? I figure he’ll have a great season, a good season and several ‘sub par’ and be graded as a fair FA. BUT he could be a piece that puts someone over the top.

  8. Timo November 10, 2011 at 5:58 pm
    The Mets aren’t going after any BIG price players. They will tell us they are but in the end we’ll sign filler guys. I predict we sign Nathan to close. Sandy said our future closer is not in the organization. I hope I’m wrong and we get some big pieces but I feel it’s another rebuilding year.
  9. Paul Festa November 10, 2011 at 6:23 pm
    Update, according to Jayson Stark: “More from Amaro, on reports he & Madson agreed on 4-year, $44-M deal: ‘There was no agreement.'”
  10. Walnutz15 November 11, 2011 at 11:35 am
    Guess Amaro doesn’t want to win…..he isn’t interested in paying Madson ridiculous money either.


    I’d imagine the Phils go hard after Papelbon. Simply no need to have this kind of commitment to Madson.

  11. Christopher Soto November 11, 2011 at 5:07 pm
    The bar is now set, Johnathan Papelbon signed for 4yrs/$50MM with a 5th yr vesting option by the Phils.
    • Joe November 11, 2011 at 7:00 pm
      Blow it when the season is on the line, get an extended deal making a bit more than you are making now.

      Sounds about right.