(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)
The reliever market has all but dried up with a handful of days remaining until the start of Spring Training. The top remaining names are all part of the “coming back from arm injuries” brigade, guys like Rafael Betancourt, Andrew Bailey, and Joel Hanrahan. Another name in that group that may be closer to pitching in game action than any of them is Ryan Madson. Madson hasn’t pitched since 2011 after having elbow surgery in April of 2012, and appeared to be a shell of his former self in a short stint with the Anaheim Angels’ Triple-A affiliate last year. But he reportedly held a public workout for teams last Friday, and if he looked OK there he could be a sneaky great buy-low bullpen option.**
** (Turns out he did look pretty good, at least according to Jerry Crasnick. He had Madson hitting 93 on the gun, which is a major improvement over where his velocity was last year. I didn’t know that at the time this post was originally written.)
When Madson was healthy, he was consistently one of the best and most durable right-handed middle relievers in the game. From 2008-2011 he pitched 273.2 innings and was worth 5.0 fWAR with the Phillies. He could work multiple innings, he threw hard, had good command, and generated a healthy amount of groundballs. He’s still young enough at age 33 to realistically hope he can come back from the elbow problems that cost him the last 2 years, although the workload from ’08 to 2011 may have had something to do with those problems.
It sounds like there are other teams who are and have been more interested in Madson than the Yankees, the Phillies, Red Sox, and Royals chief among them. That shouldn’t automatically disqualify the Yanks from checking him out though, and I wouldn’t mind seeing them jump in late and ink Madson on a 1-year show-me deal. If healthy, his upside is much higher than any of the other ST invitees coming to camp.
(Photo courtesy of Ron Cortes/Philadelphia Daily News)