The Oakland Athletics have pulled off a surprise move by agreeing to a three-year, $22 million deal with reliever Ryan Madson, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.
Ryan Madson has agreed to a 3-yr, $22M deal with #Athletics pending physical, source says.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) December 6, 2015
Madson, 35, was a key piece of the Kansas City Royals’ bullpen during their run to becoming World Series champions in 2015. In 68 games out of the bullpen, Madson pitched to a 2.13 ERA in 61-and-one-third innings. His velocity was still in the mid-90s, and he set a career-high with a 55 percent groundball rate, per MLB Trade Rumors.
In the postseason, Madson struggled through his nine appearances, posting a 5.57 ERA through eight-and-one-third innings. But most of the damage came in the first rounds as he did not allow an earned run in the World Series, keeping the New York Mets off the scoreboard in his three appearances.
As for the Athletics, this is not their first sizeable investment in a relatively unproven commodity this offseason. Earlier in the offseason, the Athletics signed journeyman left-hander Rich Hill to a one-year, $6 million deal, via ESPN. It was a considerable salary to give a pitcher who only had a few good starts toward the of 2015, but the team is obviously comfortable with the risk.
In addition to Madson and Hill, it’s been a busy offseason for the Athletics.
- November 20: Traded Jesse Chavez to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Liam Hendricks, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
- November 23: Signed Rich Hill.
- November 25: Re-acquired Jed Lowrie from the Houston Astros in exchange for Brendan McCurry, per MLB.com’s Jane Lee.
- November 25: Designated Daniel Coloumbe for assignment; released A.J. Griffin, per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- November 30: Outrighted Craig Gentry and Fernando Abad. Gentry elected free agency, Abad accepted Triple-A assignment, via the Oakland Athletics.
- December 2: Traded Drew Pomeranz, Jose Torres and PTBNL to San Diego Padres for Yonder Alonso and Mark Rzepczynski, per ESPN’s Keith Law.
- December 6: Signed Ryan Madson.
It was not that long ago that Madson’s future as a pitcher in the MLB was shrouded in uncertainty.
After posting another solid season for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011, Madson hit the open market for the first time. He had nine years of experience with the Phillies, with most of success coming out of the bullpen. Madson was the set-up man for the Phillies’ 2008 World Series team and saved 32 games for the Phillies in 2011.
He became a free agent once again at the end of the 2012 season.
After not being able to land another contract prior to the 2014 season, Madson retired from baseball.
However, after being asked by Royals’ executive Jim Fregosi Jr. — the man who drafted Madson in 1998 with the Phillies — to tutor high school prospect Johnny Morell, Madson wanted to try pitching again, which led him back on a road to a Major League mound.
The Kansas City Star put up a feature on Madson’s journey back to baseball stardom. Madson explained his intentions of returning to baseball, citing his family and a desire to provide them with a comfortable life.
“If there’s millions of dollars out there for me, I’m going to go get it. And do whatever it takes to go get it. Because it’s for them. I’ve already taken care of myself and my wife. But this is for their future.”
Madson ended up signing a one-year, $1 million, incentive-laden deal with the Royals. As mentioned, Madson went on to be a key piece of the Royals’ bullpen, especially after the team lost closer Greg Holland to Tommy John surgery.
Madson figures to set-up Athletics’ closer Sean Doolittle in 2016.
[Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images]