For every moment that Ryan Madson sits unsigned on the free agent market, speculation continues to grow that he could pursue a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies to take over as the set-up man for the club's new closer, Jonathan Papelbon.
It's time to face the music, people. Madson isn't going to re-sign with the Phillies.
The closest the free agent closer came to signing a deal this winter seemed like it was forever ago, when rumors surfaced that he and the Phillies had agreed to a four year, $44 million pact. The Phillies have since agreed to terms with Papelbon and Madson has watched his market shrivel up like tomatoes baking in a summer sun.
As teams with a need for a closer drop like flies, speculation grows that Madson is going to have to accept a one-year deal, and while that may be justified speculation, the idea that this deal will be with the Phillies is far-fetched.
First and foremost, we must take a look at the Phillies' payroll. The Phils made a couple of big splashes this winter, signing Papelbon to fill the ninth inning void and resigning longtime shortstop, Jimmy Rollins. They've also made a number of smaller moves, acquiring Ty Wigginton via trade with the Colorado Rockies and signing free agents Jim Thome, Laynce Nix, and Dontrelle Willis.
You can't stop there, however. The Phillies will see another rise in their payroll this winter when arbitration eligible players Cole Hamels, Hunter Pence, Kyle Kendrick, and Wilson Valdez all agree to new deals. Finally, we must factor in a number of raises in salary, including a jump of nearly $10 million in Cliff Lee's contract.
At the end of the day, the Phillies are looking at a payroll of right around $175 million for 25 players, including several per-arbitration players (for instance, John Mayberry Jr. and Antonio Bastardo.) That's a lot of money, and considering the fact that the luxury tax threshold will be $178 million, it certainly seems as though the Phillies are finished with their winter expenditures.
Can the Phillies break that luxury tax threshold? Sure, that's conceivable. Teams like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox have done so in the past, but the Phillies have maintained their stance that they'll only go over the luxury tax "for the right deal."
Is Madson the "right deal?" He's certainly not going to sign for $3 million. The same case could be made for free agent starting pitcher Roy Oswalt, who is also seeking a one-year deal.
The bottom line is this: Though the Phillies would love to have Madson come back and be the set-up man, they have to avoid the shiny new toys and realize that their bullpen is already amongst the best in the National League.
Even if Madson is forced to accept a one-year deal, several contending teams, including the Los Angeles Angels and Cincinnati Reds, can afford to offer him a more lucrative one-year deal and the opportunity to showcase himself as a closer for a contending team.
At the end of the day, money rules all, and the Phillies certainly can't afford to bring Ryan Madson back aboard without making a major trade or facing larger, unnecessary monetary repercussions.
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