Early Sunday morning, CBS Sport’s Jon Heyman reported that the Angels were in talks with free agent reliever Ryan Madson.
The Angels’ top priority this offseason is retaining Zack Greinke and shoring up the rotation, but after Greinke their focus is sure to be bullpen help. In 2012, the Angels bullpen combined to rank last in the AL in bullpen WAR (0.9) and 12th in bullpen ERA (3.97). The bullpen woes were arguably the biggest reason they didn’t make it to the postseason, despite an offense that ranked 4th in baseball in runs scored, and 1st in team batting average.
Ryan Madson is one of the most intriguing relief arms on the market this offseason. Madson, who missed all of 2012 after tearing his UCL in spring training with the Reds, drew interest from the Angels last offseason, and his price could be sufficiently lower do to his returning from injury. It’s very possible that Madson, a Long Beach native, could be interested in returning to his home, much like CJ Wilson did last December.
When he’s healthy, Madson is among the best relief pitchers in the game. From 2007 to 2011, Madson ranked 5th among all National League relievers in wins above replacement (WAR) and innings pitched. He was a model of consistency, posting an ERA+ above 140 in 4 of the past 5 seasons that he pitched in (129 mark in 2009).
One possible holdup in a Madson deal is the fact that he is represented by super-agent Scott Boras. Boras is likely to pull every last cent he can possibly get in a deal for Madson, and an overpay for him could cost them in a push for Greinke or Japanese reliever Kyuji Fujikawa.
If the Angels could pull off a deal for Madson, it would immediately aid the bullpen. With Kevin Jepsen, Scott Downs, Jordan Walden, and Ernesto Frieri already in-house, their 2013 ‘pen could be a significant upgrade over last season’s enigmatic staff.
For what it’s worth, I’d say it’s fairly safe to assume that the Angels will end up signing one of Madson and Fujikawa. In fact, I predicted that Madson would end up with the Angels earlier this offseason.
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