Angels, Madson closing in on one-year deal
By Alden Gonzalez /11/28/12 12:14 AM ET
The Angels' desire to upgrade the bullpen has seemingly taken them to Ryan Madson, who missed last season with Tommy John surgery but could be a big addition if he reverts back to form next year.
Sources confirmed to MLB.com on Tuesday morning that the Angels and Madson are closing in on a one-year, incentive-laden contract with a low base salary. The deal, first reported by CBSSports.com, was still pending a physical, but is expected to be formally announced by the club on Wednesday, an industry source told MLB.com.
A Madson-Angels pairing would in many ways be ideal, given general manager Jerry Dipoto's aspirations to add to the 'pen but also balance that with the need for starting pitching, particularly Zack Greinke.
Madson, represented by Scott Boras, was born and raised in Southern California, currently lives in Temecula, Calif., and rehabbed from Tommy John surgery in Anaheim under the watch of Angels doctors. He had a base salary of $6 million during his lost season with the Reds in 2012, then declined his half of the $11 million mutual option for 2013 in order to get the $2.5 million buyout (the Reds would've declined their half anyway).
The Angels ranked fourth with a $159 million payroll last season, but cleared a lot of it by not resigning fan favorite Torii Hunter -- quickly signed to a two-year, $26 million deal by the Tigers -- paying $3.5 million to buy out Dan Haren's option and sending more than 90 percent of Ervin Santana's 2013 contract to the Royals.
With the remaining money, the Angels hope to fill two spots in their rotation and strengthen a bullpen that has totaled an American League-leading 47 blown saves the last two years.
If this deal gets finalized, and Madson bounces back, they can perhaps scratch that last part off their list.
Dipoto has said he's more concerned with creating options for the last nine outs than allocating a lot of money to an established closer for the final three. But the ideal scenario for him is to find someone who can push Ernesto Frieri to the setup role, relegate Kevin Jepsen to the seventh inning and make lefty Scott Downs a floater.
Madson can do that for the Angels -- though his recovery may not have him ready by Opening Day.
While with the Phillies from 2008-11, the 6-foot-6 Madson posted a 2.86 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP, averaging 68 innings, 68 strikeouts and 18 walks per season thanks to a mid-90s fastball and devastating changeup. He became a full-time closer for the first time in 2011, posting a 2.37 ERA and going 32-for-34 in saves -- before Tommy John surgery reared its ugly head the following March.
The Angels are hoping to cash in on Madson in much the same way the Rangers cashed in on Joe Nathan, who posted a 2.80 ERA with 37 saves in his first full season removed from Tommy John.
Dipoto, who targeted Nathan last offseason, previously compared spending big on relievers to "going to Las Vegas and throwing it down on double-zero green." But Madson was a low-risk, high-reward option in a free-agent market where the only sure-shot closer, Rafael Soriano, is way out of the Angels' price range.
Other options include Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa, whom Dipoto met with face to face last week, along with Mike Adams, Joakim Soria, Koji Uehara, Sean Burnett and Jose Valverde.
But the Angels' need in the rotation, most notably Greinke, may take them out of the running for other relievers.