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Hot Stove: Ryan Madson To Sign With Cincinnati
Dan Port | Wednesday January 11th, 2012
Madson will look to build on his 2011 success. (Icon SMI)
Madson will look to build on his 2011 success. (Icon SMI)

After acquiring Mat Latos and fortifying the Reds pitching rotation last month, Cincinnati general manager Walt Jocketty improved his bullpen this week by reaching an agreement with righthanded relief pitcher Ryan Madson.  Madson agreed to a one-year deal worth a reported $10 million for the 2012 season (source: MLB Trade Rumors), though other sources (like ESPN) have listed the deal at $8.5 million.  The Reds will not surrender a draft pick to sign Madson, but because they offered off-season arbitration, the Phillies will receive a pair of compensatory draft picks in this year's amateur draft.

The 31 year-old California native is coming off of one of his best big league seasons, in which he posted a 4-2 win-loss mark, a 2.37 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP, and 32 saves (with just 2 blown) as the closer for the NL East champion Philadelphia Phillies.  Madson also had 62 strikeouts in 60 2/3 innings.  The 1998 ninth-round draft choice has spent his entire professional baseball career with the Phillies organization and, with the exception of a 17-start season in 2006, all but one of his big league appearances have been out of the bullpen.

Last season, Madson filled in admirably for oft-injured Philadelphia closer Brad Lidge and, despite losing some time to his own injuries in June and July, emerged as a legitimate end-game arm after years of effective setup duty but less success as a fill-in closer.  Madson's services with Philadelphia were no longer needed after the club signed former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon back in November.  The Papelbon signing came just days after the club failed to reach an agreement on a long-term deal with Madson, and that deal all but signaled the end of his time with Philadelphia.

The Reds will look to Madson as a replacement for free agent closer Francisco Cordero, who spent four seasons as the team's stopper and was a two-time all-star during his stint there.  Ryan will join what could be a strong 2012 Cincinnati bullpen that includes Sean Marshall, Jose Arredondo, Nick Masset, and youngster Andrew Brackman.  Assuming Madson is given the closer role, lefthanded fireballer Aroldis Chapman would almost certainly be moved the pitching rotation, which is what he was originally slated to do upon joining the club two seasons ago.

From a fantasy baseball perspective, Madson should retain much of the value he built throughout his dominant 2011 campaign and could be considered one of the best closer options entering the 2012 season.  Some owners may be hesitant to trust him on the strength of just one season as a ninth inning stopper, but he has posted very good reliever numbers since 2007, including a 2.89 ERA a 1.19 WHIP, and an 8.6 strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate.  He could benefit greatly from an improved Reds roster and has the potential for a sub-3.00 ERA and 40-plus saves over a full season, with solid but not dominant strikeout numbers.  Assuming he stays healthy and his teammates play to their potential, 2012 could be a very big year for Madson.
Dan PortDan Port has been a writer and article editor for Baseball Press since the fall of 2009. He's a Wisconsin native and Los Angeles resident, as well as an aspiring novelist, moderately successful gambler, and avid craft beer aficionado. You can reach him at dan@baseballpress.com or check him out on Twitter @danport and at DanielPort.com.