On Wednesday the Cincinnati Reds signed reliever Ryan Madson to a one-year $8.5 million dollar deal. Madson, who closed for the Phillies last season, could make upwards of $10 million if he meets his new contract’s performance incentives with a strong season.
With only $8.5 million guaranteed, Madson’s new contract pays him a much smaller sum than the $44 million extension he almost reached with the Phillies in November. After ownership scrapped Madson’s deal, the Phillies went ahead and signed Jonathan Papelbon to a $50 million dollar contract only days later. Once the Miami Marlins– this offseason’s second biggest buyer– signed Heath Bell later that month, the market for Madson (and other closers) softened drastically.
According Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, Madson’s agent Scott Boras could be the primary reason for Madson’s massive financial loss. Boras and Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. remain at odds, and both tell a starkly different story about the deal’s decay.
Madson will slide in to Francisco Cordero’s old spot as Reds’ closer. Though he had trouble making the jump from premier set-up man to door-slammer heading in to 2011, Madson flourished in the ninth inning last season. He saved 32 games while posting a 2.37 ERA through 62 appearances, and he allowed just two homeruns. Though his new homepark is arguably the MLB’s toughest on pitcher’s, Madson’s success while pitching in the hitter friendly Citizen’s Bank Park last year helps quell any worries. While pitching at home in ’11, the thirty-one-year-old righthander held opposing hitters to a punchless .229/.289/.297 line, and served-up only one home run.
Cordero, who just completed a four-year $45 million dollar deal with Cincinnati, regained his step last season after battling inconsistency in his first three years as the Reds’ closer. The thirty-six-year-old was once considered one of the top relievers in the game, but his tendency to walk batters (4.1 career BB/9) and pitch with men on base (1.33 career WHIP) was often too much for his coaches’ and fans to stomach. Madson’s efficient, strike-throwing approach should be a welcome change for the Reds.
Though Madson was a Type-A Free Agent, the Reds will not forfeit a second-round pick for signing him– Madson’s case was one of six exceptions under the MLB’s newest collective bargaining agreement. However, if free agent Francisco Cordero signs with another club, the Reds will receive a supplemental first-round pick from that team.
Former New York Mets top prospect, Fernando Martinez has been claimed by an National League Central ballclub. An official report has yet to be released, but Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes believes the Houston Astros are the mystery team.
ESPN.com‘s Adam Rubin later confirmed Rojas’ report that the Houston Astros claimed Martinez. As the MLB’s losingest team last season, the Astros hold top waiver priority.
The Mets placed Martinez on waivers along with reliever Daniel Ray Herrera to make room on their 40-Man Roster for recently-signed additions, Scott Hairston and Ronny Cedeno. Martinez, who turned twenty-three in October, was named by Baseball America as one of the game’s top 100 prospects annually between 2007-2010. Once considered a legitimate five-tool athlete, the oft-injured youngster fell out of favor with the Mets this past season. Though he’s still just twenty-three, his MLB performance was ugly enough to warrant a “bust” label from his coaches.
He might have exhausted New York’s patience, but Martinez’s lofty potential makes him a steal for any rebuilding team. Multiple knee surgeries have lowered his ceiling, but Martinez still has the sweet swing and strong arm to eventually bloom in to a Nelson Cruz or Raul Ibanez. Even if he fails to meets his loft expectations, as long he can finally stay healthy, the youngster should be a productive addition to the Astros’ outfield. Think Juan Rivera.