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Ryan Madson’s deal sets a rich market for free agent closers

Nov 9, 2011, 11:19 AM EDT

Brian Schneider, Ryan Madson

Assuming his reported four-year, $44 million contract eventually becomes official, as the first closer from a closer-heavy free agent class to sign Ryan Madson‘s deal would set the market extremely high for guys like Jonathan Papelbon, Francisco Rodriguez, Joe Nathan, and Francisco Cordero.

They’re surely thrilled with Madson’s deal setting the tone, but the other 29 teams can’t be thrilled with the Phillies paying $44 million for what they hope will be 275 innings or so.

In fact, Alex Speier of notes that Madson is the first reliever since the pre-2008 offseason to get a four-year contract and going back even further than that it’s awfully tough to find more than a few instances of a team not regretting a four-year contract given to a reliever despite all relievers who got a four-year deal being elite at the time.

That doesn’t mean the Phillies will regret giving four years to Madson, as he’s only 30 years old and one of the elite relievers in baseball going back much further than his time as a closer, but it could nudge other teams toward overpaying for older, worse closers and the trickle-down effect may even boost the asking price for top-level setup men.

  1. shaggylocks - Nov 9, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    I can’t wait to see how Mike Rizzo tops this…

  2. uyf1950 - Nov 9, 2011 at 11:42 AM

    Aaron the only “fly in the ointment” so to speak with the theory about the some of the players you mentioned that might benefit from the contract the Phillies gave Madson is Papelbon, and Cordero are all Type A free agents. Is another team (not the players previous team) going to overpay that much in either years and/or dollars and still give up a draft choice. I don’t think so. K-Rod might be the only one that get’s overpaid because he isn’t being offered arbitration by the Brewers. But as we all know K-Rod comes with his own set of baggage. Don’t know enough about Cordero but I think Papelbon will be offered arbitration. His options at that point in my opinion are limited, accept it or resign with the Sox for 3 years probably about $40M +/-. Just my opinion.

  3. Kyle - Nov 9, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    Doesn’t it seem like this Madson deal would look pretty intriguing to a guy like Jimmy Rollins? Or do we think someone is going to go nuts and throw the bank at J-Roll?

  4. stlouis1baseball - Nov 9, 2011 at 12:02 PM

    The Phillies driving the market up? Nooooo. That’s unlike them.
    $25 million a year for suspect defense and a .250 AVG. at 1st.
    $11 million a year for 70 innings of relief.
    Regardless though…they simply MUST draw the line at NOT re-signing the SS.
    After all…they have a competent back up at the postion right?
    Excellant business decisions.

  5. paperlions - Nov 9, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    There is simply no evidence that bad deals affect market prices…they don’t. Ryan Howard’s deal won’t affect those of Pujols or Fielder, Madson’s deal won’t affect those of Papelbon or Bell….because those deals will only affect what those guys ask for…not what other teams are willing to offer them. People say this stuff all the time…and it never manifests because bad contracts do not set industry standards.

    • shaggylocks - Nov 9, 2011 at 12:50 PM

      I wish someone had told Theo Epstein that after he inked Crawford to deal that topped Jayson Werth’s. Do you really think Crawford’s deal would have been so big if the Nationals hadn’t overpaid for Werth?

    • stlouis1baseball - Nov 9, 2011 at 1:28 PM

      Paper: I couldn’t disagree more.
      As Bobby Cox said…
      “if Ryan Howard is worth $25 million a year Albert Pujols is worth $50 million per year.”
      So yeah…it directly affects market prices.
      No different than anything else you are buying and/or selling.
      It sets a precedence…a bench mark if you will.

      • scatterbrian - Nov 9, 2011 at 1:36 PM

        Not to mention agents constantly referring to prior free agent contracts as a base or a starting point.

    • paperlions - Nov 9, 2011 at 2:52 PM

      …but facts just don’t support those impressions.

      Last year John Buck got a silly 3 yr $18M contract….that did not set the market for mediocre catchers (who mostly got less than 1/2 that AAV).

      Last year Soriano got a silly 3 yr $35M contract…which did not set the market for relievers, none of which got even 1/2 of the AAV of Soriano.

      Last year Huff got a silly 2 yr $22M contract…which did not set the market for old and busted 1B, none of whom got close to that AAV and most of the similar players got far less than 1/2 of that AAV.

      The list of bad deals that are did nothing for other players is far longer than the list of values that can be linked.

  6. cur68 - Nov 9, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    Some truth there Shag. Its like CEO pay; soon as it gets out that company X pays their CEO a big figure, then company Y starts hiking up the dough, too. A matter of prestige I guess.

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