Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 11/8/11

On the heels of signing Jim Thome last Friday, the Philadelphia Phillies have made their second big move of the 2011 offseason, re-signing closer Ryan Madson. But the cost for Madson is already causing jeers for GM Ruben Amaro across the internet - four years for $44 million, with a $13 million option for the fifth year. The reaction on Twitter has been harsh, and it's been brutal. But why exactly is this a bad move?

Let me break it down for you. Madson *was* one of the best free agent relievers on the market, ranking second on our Free Agent Primer among all closers. But despite that high rankings, relievers aren't worth eight figure contracts, even top closers. And I'm not even sure Madson is a top closer in baseball. Last year was his only season as a full-time closer, and he saved 32 games. He's pitched in a total of less than 120 innings over the last two seasons, so durability is a concern. Amaro is paying $11 million a season to a pitcher who pitches in less than half of his team's games. Think about that for a minute.

I think there's something in Amaro's geneology that forces him to overpay relievers. After a 41/41 save regular season that saw the Phillies hoist the hardware at the end of the year, Amaro re-signed Brad Lidge to a three year, $37.5 million contract. Lidge was 32 at the time, compared to Madson's 31. Lidge proceeded to throw 123 2/3 innings of 4.73 ERA ball, which is the finest example of the old corollary of "relievers are volatile and you shouldn't overpay them under any circumstances". Now as soon as Amaro gets Lidge's awful contract off of the books, he adds Madson's contract to them. Headslap and facepalm, wrapped up into one.

The $11 million that Madson will be making is the seventh highest yearly total for a reliever in MLB history, behind Mariano Rivera, Lidge, Francisco Rodriguez, Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan, and Francisco Cordero. Aside from Rivera, the greatest reliever of all time, and Papelbon, whose salary was done to combat a higher arbitration award, none of them worked out well for the team at the end of the day. What makes the Madson signing different? In my mind, nothing.

Any GM in baseball who needs a closer is currently cursing Amaro, much like they did three years ago when he set the market price for outfielders too high with his Raul Ibanez signing. The agents for Papelbon and Heath Bell are currently dancing in the streets about the money that they can get their clients now, who are both experienced closers. You mean to tell me that Amaro felt this is what he needed to do to get things done? Sometimes, I just shake my head and wonder.

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This article first appeared on The Outside Corner and was syndicated with permission.

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