The Toronto Blue Jays are reportedly targeting relievers with closing experience, and that includes Ryan Madson
With the rotation now moving in the right direction, the Blue Jays are predictably shifting their focus more towards their needy bullpen. According to Jerry Crasnick of Baseball America, that search will focus on relievers that have experience closing ball games, including 2015 Kansas City Royals standout Ryan Madson.
Madson comes with a great deal of risk, even relative to his position, so it’s an intriguing match with a Mark Shapiro-led front office. He was one of baseball’s more consistent relievers from 2007 to 2011 with the Philadelphia Phillies, but a Tommy John surgery and lengthy recovery would keep him out of Major League Baseball for the 2012-2014 seasons. Until the Royals came calling, it looked like his career was over.
His primary closing experience comes from that final season (2011) in Philadelphia, where he took on the ninth inning role following an injury to Brad Lidge and recorded 32 saves over 62 appearances with a 2.37 ERA. His K/9 was an impressive 9.6 over his final three years with the Phillies, well above his career average of 7.9 and 2015 total of 8.2.
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It’s encouraging to see that Madson has not experienced any great regression in velocity after returning to the majors, with a fastball averaging 94.3 MPH in 2015 which lines up well with his career numbers. His fastball remained a positive pitch while his changeup remained extremely effective, so as unlikely as it seems, Madson appears to have picked up right where he left off. Still, with limited budget remaining, is this the safest and wisest way to spend it?
Madson’s free agent contract should come somewhere in the ballpark of $5.0-5.5 million, though even that number is made more unpredictable than normal due to his recent history. He and his agent will likely be hoping for a two-year deal from a club after that time spent out of the league, but one year with an option could end up being a comfortable middle-ground.
The wording of this report is what strikes me. Having relievers with closing experience is never a bad thing, but with the possibility that one of Roberto Osuna or Aaron Sanchez could be stretched into a rotation role, that was enough to raise an eyebrow at. The current roster construction doesn’t line up very naturally for that type of move, but alas, the offseason is still young..