A’s sign Ryan Madson to HUGE deal
Ryan Madson is probably seen by many as a risky pick-up for the Oakland Athletics, especially when you consider that the deal is for three years and he’s already 35 years old. However, there are reasons that this isn’t such a leap of faith by the A’s. The A’s desperately need a reliable setup man, and Madson proved last season to be just that.
Even though Madson missed all of the 2012 and 2013 seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery, and subsequently missed the 2014 season because no team would even sign him a minor league deal, the Kansas City Royals took a shot this season. He made it to the majors and quickly succeeded. That’s what the Athletics need. How much can Madson’s 2015 results erase concerns over his age and history?
“In the context of his career, a team heaping millions of dollars for three years upon Madson is another signal of what we know: If you can perform on a baseball field, history be damned, someone is going to pay you a lot of money.”
Exactly; history be damned. As Madson performed so well last season, he is worth the risk. Prior to a having a torn ulnar collateral ligament, Madson’s numbers were good. Over a 10-year career, he has only had an ERA over 4.00 twice, and that was when the Phillies were attempting to make him a starter. He’s obviously meant for the bullpen.
Madson throws three fastballs: a four-seamer and a sinker that both can easily hit 95 MPH and a 93 MPH cutter. He also slows it down with an 85 MPH circle-change. He pitched 63.1 innings over the course of the 2015 season, while posting a 2.31 ERA and a .963 WHIP. As you know, the Royals went on to become World Champions.
The Athletics currently have LHP Fernando Rodriguez, closer and fellow lefty Sean Doolittle, RHP Evan Scribner, RHP Liam Hendriks and Madson. Hendriks, who had a fantastic year in Toronto, will likely takeover the seventh, with Madson as the set-up man and a healthy Doolittle to close the game out. Then you have Rodriguez as a lefty specialist, Scribner and likely LHP Sean Nolin. Nolin is out of options, so he virtually has a spot locked up regardless of how well anyone else does. There is also RHP Ryan Dull. He impressed during his Septmber call-up in 2015.
Madson is not unfamiliar with being a set-up man. He’s closed before, adding extra insurance to the bullpen in the event something happens to Doolittle. He set up just last year alongside Kelvin Herrera for Royals’ closer Wade Davis. Earlier in his career, he’s also acted as the set-up man for Brad Lidge with the Phillies.
He’s always had success in that role, one the Athletics badly need. The A’s most recent set-up man and former All-Star RHP Ryan Cook struggled towards the end of the 2014 season and in 2015 his struggles got steadily worse. He was eventually sent to Triple-A Nashville and released. The Athletics have failed to find a replacement since. The A’s bullpen was the worst in the league in 2015.
As previously noted, Madson does have successful experience as a closer, providing depth to the A’s bullpen. His age is a concern, but he’s experienced and has a great record in the set-up role, which is exactly what the Athletics needed to complete their bullpen. The A’s are known for taking older players and finding success with them (something they hope rings true with Rich Hill as well). This appears to be a great signing for the A’s, filling a much-needed hole. Of course there is risk involved – more so than most – but as long as he stays healthy, Ryan Madson is going to be a godsend to the A’s bullpen.