When Ruben Amaro offered arbitration to Ryan Madson last month, he did not think Madson would still be jobless by the winter meetings.
Well that’s the case now and it could wind up hurting the Phillies.
Amaro offered arbitration because he knew he would get a nice compensation from whatever team signed him. High draft picks means good prospects and with the Phillies getting older, that’s a plus.
It’s still unlikely Madson accepts arbitration because it would lock him up for one year as the set up man for the Phillies new closer, Jonathan Papelbon, lessening his value as a closer for next off season.
But Madson could also pitch in a familiar environment for a year and become available next season when guys like Papelbon and former San Diego closer Heath Bell aren’t on the market as well.
But what if he does? It could hand cuff the Phillies in a way Amaro didn’t even think about.
The Phillies are currently focused on signing one — or by the grace of God — both short stop Jimmy Rollins and third baseman Aramis Ramirez, completing the Phillies very busy off season. If Madson accepts arbitration, the Phillies will have to pay him a salary that could have gone towards one of or both the contracts they would offer to the left side of the infield.
What makes this so possible is the fact the closer market has thinned rather fast. Papelbon and Bell found new homes in Philadelphia and Miami respectively.
As the Inquirer’s Matt Gelb said:
That leaves the Los Angeles Angels, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, New York Mets and San Diego Padres as teams needing closers. Still on the market are players like Madson, Francisco Rodriguez, Francisco Cordero, Brad Lidge, Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch. The Mets and Padres will fill that position on the cheap. The Red Sox were not willing to even negotiate with Jonathan Papelbon beyond three years. The Angels are focused on C.J. Wilson and could drop more than $100 million in a deal for him.
Baltimore was also on the market for a closer but they recently went the cheap route and scooped up former Colorado closer Huston Street. The Pades landed closer Huston Street.
Last season, Madson made only $4.5 million. With the Phillies recently signing Papelbon to a four-year, $50 million contract ($15 million per), he could be seeing a one-year salary between $8-11 million.
The Phillies could argue that Madson has only been a closer one year whereas Scott Boras could be his usual money-grubbing self and try and convince the arbitration panel that Madson is worth money similar to the game’s best closers, which he was for the most part last season.
Either way, if Madson doesn’t find a job elsewhere soon, Amaro’s arbitration/compensation plan could back fire big time.