DALLAS — It's still highly unlikely that any of the three Phillies free agents will accept arbitration by the 11:59 p.m. Wednesday deadline. Jimmy Rollins is looking for a five-year deal and should at least be able to secure a three-year contract. Ryan Madson wants a four-year deal and a chance to close. Raul Ibanez will not accept thanks to a handshake agreement.
That's the way Ruben Amaro Jr. sees it. But he was still hopeful Monday that through some crazy circumstances, either Rollins or Madson accepted.
"I hope one does," Amaro said. "I hope two do."
And while we'll repeat this is simply speculation, it's time to start really wondering about Madson's status. Another team dropped out of the closer's market Tuesday when Toronto traded for Serigo Santos and said they intend to use the former White Sox reliever as their closer. The Blue Jays reportedly had interest in Madson and money to spend. The Twins filled their spot by re-signing Matt Capps on Monday.
That leaves the Los Angeles Angels, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, New York Mets and San Diego Padres as teams needing closers. Still on the market are players like Madson, Francisco Rodriguez, Francisco Cordero, Brad Lidge, Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch. The Mets and Padres will fill that position on the cheap. The Red Sox were not willing to even negotiate with Jonathan Papelbon beyond three years. The Angels are focused on C.J. Wilson and could drop more than $100 million in a deal for him.
When the wheel stops spinning, is there a spot for Madson? That's the risk Scott Boras will probably take. (Isn't it interesting that Boras represents both Madson and K-Rod? Does he help one get a closer's job if it hurts the other? Does he tell one of those clients to accept arbitration so they both have landing spots?)
Madson made $4.5 million in 2011 as one of the game's top closers. If he accepts arbitration, he would receive a sizable raise for a one-year deal. Purely guessing, but the ceiling is likely around $9 million. Maybe less.
The Phillies could then try to trade Madson to a team that is more comfortable with having him on a one-year deal or simply keep him to form the best setup-closer combo in baseball for one season.
What would be Madson's incentive to accept? He could be a free agent next winter in a market not saturated with closing options. He would still have a high visibility as the setup man on the Phillies. He'd be in a familiar environment.
With the limited options, it's extremely hard to envision any team lavishing Madson with the reported four-year, $44 million terms the Phillies and Boras began negotiating. So, is it worth waiting another season for his lucrative deal or settling this winter just so he can secure a closing job?
That's the question Boras and Madson must answer before Wednesday ends.
For those curious as to why it's all quiet on the Jimmy Rollins front: Dan Lozano, the agent who represents Rollins, just so happens to also call Albert Pujols one of his clients. And Lozano spent nearly 75 minutes in a meeting with top Marlins officials as talks of a reported 10-year deal surface. So Lozano could have bigger priorities than Rollins on this day.
Charlie Manuel will sit down with reporters later Tuesday. So will Amaro.
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