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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What Happened Between Ryan Madson and the Phillies

Madson's agent, Scott Boras, says that the Phillies and Madson had a deal and then the Phillies decided to sign someone else.

Ruben Amaro, Jr., the Phillies' GM, sharply disagrees but doesn't want to get into a public dispute with Boras.

Whom do you believe?

The story I heard was that Madson and the Phillies had agreed in principle on a four-year, $44 million deal and then it got stuck on the desk of Phillies' owner David Montgomery. Then, a few days later, voila, the Phillies inked Red Sox' closer Jonathan Papelbon to a 4-year, $50 million deal. That story would suggest that the Phillies had told agents for both players that they would go hard after both and try to sign them fast, so that they both should be ready to deal. What the Phillies didn't say, logic suggests, is that they wanted Papelbon all along and that either a) his agent would respond quickly or b) they would use Madson's faster response to prompt a decision from Papelbon or settle with Madson. And then they signed Papelbon (and perhaps significantly overpaid for him given that no other team gave Madson a huge deal, which means that in all likelihood there might not have been serious competition for Papelbon, either). Of course, this is plausible if you believe the initial report that the deal got stuck on Montgomery's desk -- and that's where things get murky.

To me, Boras's public statement is logical, and the Phillies' denial is logical perhaps if only to save face, because Boras's explanation hints that the Phillies used Madson to get Papelbon, and, while players use one team to leverage another all the time, the Phillies' management doesn't want to look bad to the players on the team and therefore will deny what Boras says and perhaps get away with the denial because Boras is unpopular in Philadelphia. But, there's another equally plausible explanation.

Then again, I'm an Amaro fan, so I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt. It just may be that Boras didn't have a deal but is saying what he's saying to save face before his player (Madson), his other players (many) and potential future clients. Why is that logical? Because if Madson signed with the Phillies, he would have gotten a 4-year, $44 million deal. Now he'll get a 1-year, $8.5 million deal, and that looks very bad if you are an agent.

So what really happened? That's a good question.

And one that will be forgotten pretty quickly.

Pitchers and catchers report in 5 weeks.


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