Will the Phillies re-sign Ryan Madson or are is a Jonathan Papelbon deal in the works?
The Phillies were close to agreeing with Madson on a four-year, $44 million free-agent contract, according to numerous reports on Tuesday.
But those reports may have been premature.
Now the team is engaged again in talks with free-agent closer Jonathan Papelbon, according to a source. Papelbon is considered the top closer available after several strong years with the Red Sox.
While SI.com reported that Phillies general partner David Montgomery was the hold-up in approving the supposed agreement with Madson, multiple sources said Wednesday that the two sides never reached a deal.
The Phillies were then said to be reconsidering their options, sources said.
One source with knowledge of the discussions between the Phillies and Madson’s agent, Scott Boras, suggested that baseball’s collective bargaining agreement negotiations could be partially responsible for the hang-up.
Without the new CBA in place, many clubs have seemed reluctant to make big investments in free agency. It’s possible that the Phillies, acting alone or in concert with Major League Baseball, have decided to wait until the new basic agreement is established. That could happen within the next week.
If the Phillies back off Madson, one of their NL East rivals — the Nationals — could jump more seriously into the bidding.
The Nats, with a push from their right fielder and Madson’s former Phillies teammate, Jayson Werth, have been on the periphery of the Madson sweepstakes.
Boras represents both Werth and Madson, as well as numerous other Nationals players.
The length and dollar amounts in Madson's reported deal with the Phillies would be something of a surprise; some in the industry expected the Phillies to be more conservative after escaping Brad Lidge's three-year, $37.5 million deal.
Madson, coming off his first full season as a closer, is the same age and far less accomplished than Lidge was when joined the Phillies.
"It's probably a year and $1 million to $2 million high," a rival general manager said of Madson's new contract. "But that's the nature of the top end of free agency."
Madson had 32 saves with a 2.37 ERA last season.