The Cincinnati Reds continued their bold offseason by signing the top free-agent closer on the market – Ryan Madson – late Tuesday night.
And the Reds didn’t just land the best closer available, they got him at a relatively cheap rate. Multiple reports say that Madson inked a one-year contract that will pay him $8.5 million guaranteed, and gives him the potential to make an extra $1.5 million through incentives.
Hell, even if the Reds had given Madson $10M guaranteed it would have been a bargain, considering his former team – the Phillies – offered him a four-year, $44 million contract earlier this offseason. The Phillies ended up pulling the offer and inking Jonathan Papelbon instead.
Madson’s agent is Scott Boras, which made many Reds fans skeptical that Cincinnati would be able to afford the 31-year-old right-hander. However, general manager Walt Jocketty knew it was a buyer’s market and was rewarded for his patience in the end. In fact, there are MLB insiders like Keith Law who are calling the Madson signing “The best bargain of the offseason.” (I don’t usually like Law, but when he says something that fits my argument, I’ll selectively listen to him. Perhaps even quote him in a story.)
In 2011, his lone season as the Phillies’ full-time closer, the 6-foot-6 Madson had 32 saves, an ERA of 2.37 and a WHIP of 1.15. In 60.2 innings, he gave up 54 hits, had 62 strikeouts and walked just 16. (He also had a record of 4-2, which is basically a useless stat for closers. Aren’t you glad I made sure to include a useless stat?)
Therefore, the Reds have now signed the second-best free-agent closer of the offseason (presuming Papelbon is better), the best left-handed set-up man on the trade market in Sean Marshall, and the best starting pitcher on the trade market in Mat Latos.
That’s called “getting work done” and Jocketty gets huge kudos for the excellent offseason the team is experiencing.
However, it’s not over yet. The Reds still need to sign a fourth outfielder; someone to at least platoon with Chris Heisey in left. It will be a veteran on the cheap – such as Ryan Ludwick. It will be interesting to see what Jocketty ends up doing there.
He also needs to find a backup shortstop and his offseason work will be complete. And attracting a good SS shouldn’t be too difficult because whoever the Reds sign will have a chance to compete with rookie Zack Cozart for the starting job. Cozart is likely to open the season as the starter regardless (if he’s healthy, which he’s expected to be) but he’s an unproven commodity and a veteran backup is needed.
Nasty Boys II?
Check out how the Reds’ bullpen is shaping up for the 2012 season:
Closer: Ryan Madson.
Left-handed set-up: Sean Marshall.
Right-handed set-up: Nick Masset (although he’s no lock by any means; Logan Ondrusek is also someone to watch here).
Left-handed specialist (LOOGY): Bill Bray.
Right-hander: Logan Ondrusek.
Right-hander: Jose Arredondo.
Long reliever: Sam LeCure.
Wow. Did I mention I love the offseason the Reds are having? At this point, it will be shocking if they are not the preseason favorites to win the NL Central championship.
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