FanGraphs has an annual feature in which they ask their readers what type of contract, terms and average annual salary, they would give each of the free agents available. Every year they publish these results, and every year it’s a fascinating exercise comparing the accumulated thoughts of the website’s readership with the actual signings that take place throughout the winter.
According to FanGraphs’ crowd sourcing, free agent closer Ryan Madson deserved a contract in the neighbourhood of three years at $26 million. That would seem to me to be a lot of money to tie up in a 31 year old right handed reliever. Granted, Madson has been great for the last five seasons in Philadelphia, particularly excellent in the last two, including 2011, which was his first as the team’s full time closer.
It’s difficult to find a whole lot of relievers getting contracts like that, and obviously even more difficult to find relievers getting contracts like that and it working out. That’s why it’s almost shocking to learn that the Phillies are currently preparing an offer for Madson that will pay him $44 million over four years with a $13 million vesting option for a fifth year in 2016.
Even when such a deal works out, when the reliever signing a four year deal continues to be effective over the span of the contract, it doesn’t work out as money well spent for the team. In a best case scenario, the Phillies still won’t get the contribution necessary from Madson to justify those terms and that dollar figure.
Francisco Cordero (signed ahead of the 2008 season) and Billy Wagner (signed ahead of the 2006 season) both stand as excellent examples of pitchers who signed similar deals, contributed as expected for at least three of the four years in their contracts, and still were worth far less value than the money spent on their contracts would have brought back if it was spent elsewhere.
Making this impending deal even more questionable is that of all the available positions on the free agent market this winter, relief pitcher is just about the only one whose depth wouldn’t be described as shallow. Jonathan Papelbon and Heath Bell join Madson on the list of high priced closers available for purchase.
While both pitchers are likely happy that Madson’s contract will raise the bar for teams looking to sign them, it should be remembered that not only does Philadelphia bringing Madson back shorten the market for the two closers, but both pitchers carry with them the weight of being a Type A free agent. Assuming that any changes to the CBA don’t get introduced this off season, having to give up a first round draft pick makes Papelbon and Bell less valuable to a team looking to sign them than Madson was to the Phillies.
Only adding to the head scratching was a confirmed report from yesterday that 33 year old free agent outfielder Michael Cuddyer was in Philadelphia to speak with the Phillies about a contract as well. It’s expected that the former member of the Minnesota Twins will be seeking a multiple year deal that will pay him $10 million annually despite never putting up a better season than the 3.1 WAR he had last year.
And The Rest
Tony Reagins was reportedly aware that the Toronto Blue Jays would trade Mike Napoli to the Los Angeles Angels’ division rivals in Texas shortly after acquiring him. And he was okay with that.
Remember the name Suk Min Yoon. The Korean pitcher is now represented by Scott Boras and could be available to negotiate a contract via posting fee this off season.
Let’s take a closer look at the manager vacancies from around the league.
Not satisfied with merely acquiring Jonathan Sanchez, the Kansas City Royals would be interested in pursuing a trade for Carlos Zambrano.
As it stands right now, Barry Zito will be the San Francisco Giants’ fifth starter.
Is it possible: Learning to appreciate Willie Bloomquist.
Former Houston Astros outfielder/first baseman Lance Berkman thinks that moving the franchise to the American League would be a travesty.
The starting pitchers who confound Las Vegas.
The Seattle Mariners are installing electric car chargers at Safeco Field.
And finally, my favourite story from yesterday is an interview with one of the first reporters in the mainstream media to write about sabermetrics: Bryan Johnson from The Globe & Mail.