MLB

Short deal adds hurt to Madson injury

Share This Story

Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal has been the FOXSports.com's Senior MLB Writer since August 2005. He appears weekly on MLB on FOX, FOX Sports Radio and MLB Network. He's a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter.

MORE>>
 
   
 

Ryan Madson’s pillow contract just turned into a bed of nails.

FOX Fantasy Baseball
FOX FANTASY BASEBALL
Sign up today for FOX Fantasy Baseball. It's fun, easy and 100% free.
JOIN OR CREATE A LEAGUE TODAY!»

Madson needs Tommy John surgery and is out for the season. The Cincinnati Reds closer won’t command a lucrative multiyear guarantee next winter. Instead, he will be rehabilitating his right elbow and likely sign a short, incentive-laden deal.

So much for the “pillow contract,” a coin termed by Madson’s agent, Scott Boras, to describe a contract that gives a free agent coming off a down season a soft, temporary landing before he goes back on the open market.

The concept worked brilliantly for Boras client Adrian Beltre, a third baseman who parlayed a brilliant season with the Boston Red Sox into a five–year, $80 million free-agent deal with the Texas Rangers. But the strategy is far riskier with pitchers, and Boras employed it three times last offseason, accepting one-year deals for Madson, Francisco Rodriguez and Edwin Jackson — none of whom were coming off down seasons.

Jackson, a 28-year-old starting pitcher, still could benefit. He turned down at least one three-year offer, from the Pittsburgh Pirates, but might be in heavy demand next offseason if he — ahem — stays healthy and pitches well for the Washington Nationals.

Madson won’t be so lucky. And Rodriguez, who signed a one-year, $8 million contract to remain the Milwaukee Brewers’ setup man rather than accept a one-year deal at comparable money to close for the San Diego Padres, remains in a dicey spot.

TOMMY JOHN SUCCESSES

See which pitchers made a comeback after baseball's famous surgery.

The market for closers last offseason was different, flooded with options. The smart play for players and agents was to strike quickly and avoid getting trapped in a high-stakes game of musical chairs. But striking quickly is not Boras’ style.

Boras got into a well-documented dispute with Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. over a supposed four-year, $44 million offer for Madson. The Phillies signed free agent Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year, $50 million deal instead.

Even if Boras was correct to think he had a deal with the Phillies, he could have adjusted when the talks went awry.

The Phillies likely would have signed Madson to a three-year, $33 million contract, a far less expensive deal than the one they gave Papelbon. Boras also could have grabbed the next open chair by turning aggressive with the Miami Marlins, who were spending quite freely. The Marlins made Madson an offer, but ultimately signed Heath Bell to a three-year, $27 million, free-agent contract.

In fairness, the Marlins seemed to prefer Bell; owner Jeffrey Loria had targeted him early in free agency. But the bottom line was this: The agents for Papelbon and Bell, Seth and Sam Levinson, twice outflanked Boras in the closer market.

CACTUS LEAGUE

Get news, video, schedules and more from spring training in Arizona.

In the end, Madson signed an incredibly club-friendly deal with the Reds — one year, $8.5 million. The contract included a $6 million salary for 2012, $4 million of which is deferred, and a $2.5 million buyout on an $11 million mutual option for ’13.

No chance the Reds exercise their end of that option now, not with Madson uncertain to be fully effective at the start of next season.

Madson, 31, could land his big multiyear deal after he returns from surgery. But other Boras free agents also experienced less-than-ideal outcomes this offseason.

Outfielder Johnny Damon, coming off a decent season with the Tampa Bay Rays, remains the best player available on the open market.

First baseman Carlos Pena, who accepted a one-year, $10 million deal from the Chicago Cubs in 2011, took a $2.5 million paycut on a one-year deal with the Rays.

And even first baseman Prince Fielder, who landed a nine-year, $214 million contract with Detroit, might have been in a compromised position if not for a season-ending knee injury to the TigersVictor Martinez.

Rival agents say Boras misread the Fielder market, too, but that criticism is too harsh — in free agency, it’s the outcome that matters, and Fielder got his money.

Well, the outcome for Madson was far worse than it should have been even.

Madson won’t exactly go broke; he was coming off a three-year, $12 million contract that Boras negotiated with the Phillies and will get his $8.5 million from the Reds.

Still, a one-year deal put him at risk, where a multiyear guarantee would have protected him against injury.

His pillow contract turned out to be a nightmare.

Madson should be sleeping in king-size luxury, not on a bed of nails.

Tagged: Tigers, Brewers, Reds, Nationals, Phillies, Marlins, Rays, Ryan Madson, Heath Bell, Prince Fielder, Jonathan Papelbon

More Stories From Ken Rosenthal

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



MLB Videos

Bautista talks Derek Jeter's final All-Star Game Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Jose Bautista discusses Derek Jeter's career and his final appearance in the MLB...

Jeter honored to play in last All-Star Game Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Derek Jeter compares his first All-Star Game experience with his last, Mike Trou...

Matheny defends Wainwright: He's out there to compete Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Mike Matheny comments on the media's reaction to Adam Wainwright's joke about le...

SimLeague Baseball - Simulation Baseball Game

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Yankees/browse/featuredproduct/606363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_606000/ff_606363_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash
    Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/1064043/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1064000/ff_1064043_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Gray http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067359/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067359_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room Pullover Hoodie - Steel http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067382/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067382_xl.jpg&w=100 54.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room 39THIRTY Flex Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067785/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067785_xl.jpg&w=100 31.95 New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Ro..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068294/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068294_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Bl..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice Performance Jersey - Black/Orange http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068787/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068787_xl.jpg&w=100 94.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice P..