Ryan Madson deal: Agent, GM at odds
Less than a day after reliever Ryan Madson agreed to a one-year, $8.5 million contract with the Cincinnati Reds, agent Scott Boras and Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. sharply disagreed on the chain of events that led to Madson's departure from Philadelphia this winter.
In early November, the Phillies were reportedly closing in on a four-year, $44 million contract with Madson when talks quickly and mysteriously unraveled. Within days, the Phillies signed former Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year, $50 million deal.
Madson agreed to the one-year deal with the Reds on Tuesday, according to a source.
Although Boras and Amaro refrained from inflammatory comments in separate interviews Wednesday, they remained at odds over the breakdown in talks that ultimately forced the end of Madson's tenure in Philadelphia.
"It's very simple," Boras said. "We never rejected any offer from Philadelphia at four years and $44 million. We advised Philadelphia that we would agree to such a proposal. And Philadelphia decided upon hearing that to go in a different direction."
When pressed for details on the discussions, Boras reiterated, "We agreed to a four-year, $44 million offer, and Philadelphia decided to sign someone else."
Amaro offered a starkly different version of events.
"There's no reason for me to get into a public debate with Scott on this," Amaro said. "I have no desire to do that. All I can tell you is, there was never an agreement, and we decided that we wanted to sign someone with the experience and the ability of Jonathan Papelbon. So we went that route.
It's very simple. We never rejected any offer from Philadelphia at four years and $44 million. We advised Philadelphia that we would agree to such a proposal. And Philadelphia decided upon hearing that to go in a different direction.” -- Scott Boras, Ryan Madson's agent
"There's no question we had discussions with Ryan about bringing him back. We had several discussions about it. But no agreement was made. If we had come to an agreement, we would have signed him. ''
Madson's one-year deal, has been hailed as a major coup for the Reds, who previously signaled their intentions to make a push in the NL Central this year by acquiring starting pitcher Mat Latos and lefty reliever Sean Marshall by trade in December.
Boras said that Madson had "numerous offers" on the table, but signed with Cincinnati because he wanted to pitch as a closer rather than a setup man in 2012.
Madson slides in as Cincinnati's closer in place of Francisco Cordero, who saved 150 games for the Reds over the past four seasons. Cordero, a free agent, remains unsigned.
A source told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark that Madson's deal includes a mutual option with a buyout. Even though Madson's $8.5 million salary in 2012 is a sizable raise over the $5.1 million he earned last season, the deal offers a fraction of the guaranteed money that went to Papelbon and Heath Bell, who signed a three-year, $27 million contract with the Miami Marlins in December. As a result, numerous baseball analysts have praised Cincinnati GM Walt Jocketty for making a shrewd and cost-efficient signing.
Boras referred to Madson's deal with Cincinnati as a "pillow contract" -- a comfortable place for a player to spend one season -- before he goes back on the open market. Boras compared it to the one-year, $4.25 million deal that pitcher Kyle Lohse signed with St. Louis in March of 2008. Lohse posted a 15-6 record with a 3.78 ERA for the Cardinals that season and signed a four-year, $41 million extension in September.
There's no question we had discussions with Ryan about bringing him back. We had several discussions about it. But no agreement was made. If we had come to an agreement, we would have signed him.” -- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr.
It's possible that Madson will encounter a less-crowded closer market when he returns to free agency next winter. At the moment, Detroit's Jose Valverde and Seattle's Brandon League are the principal closers eligible for free agency. It also remains to be seen how long New York's Mariano Rivera will continue to pitch. Rivera saved 44 games and logged a 1.91 ERA last season, but he turned 42 in November.
Once it became clear that Madson wasn't returning to Philadelphia, his efforts to land a long-term deal were undercut by a series of moves. Huston Street, Andrew Bailey and Sergio Santos all changed teams in trades, and Joe Nathan, Frank Francisco and Matt Capps were traded or signed contracts of one or two years in length.
"As many as eight major league teams have taken great risk in the closer role," Boras said. "The game has shown many times that teams need closers with the efficiency to (convert) 85 percent of their save opportunities and the durability to make 60 appearances. Numerous teams didn't follow those metrics as a criteria for a closer this offseason. They turned their back on the closer role."
Jerry Crasnick is a senior baseball writer for ESPN.com.