11/28/12 5:10 PM ET
Angels, Madson finalize one-year contract
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
Madson attended games at Angel Stadium as a kid, met Troy Percival, looked up to Wally Joyner -- "In my dream," he said, "I was a first baseman, but I threw too hard" -- and envisioned a time when he'd actually get to play for them.
But this was a negotiation; Madson had to be subtle about that this winter.
"I was a little concerned with letting Jerry [Dipoto] know about wanting to play for Anaheim," Madson said on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, shortly after the Angels' general manager signed the potential closer to a one-year, incentive-laden contract. "I'm glad that he picked that up and didn't take advantage of it."
Perhaps Dipoto didn't take advantage of it, but he did net quite the bargain.
After an entire season spoiled by Tommy John surgery, the Angels were able to get Madson -- one of baseball's top late-inning relievers with the Phillies -- for a $3.5 million base salary and up to $3.5 million more in incentives. Madson -- a client of tough-negotiating agent Scott Boras, no less -- can rake in up to $2.5 million for time spent on the roster and up to $1 million based on games finished.
The 32-year-old right-hander will make $500,000 each for one, 45, 90, 135 and 180 days on the active roster, plus an additional $250,000 each for 35, 40, 45 and 50 games finished.
Madson is confident he can be ready by Opening Day, and he believes he'll finish a lot of games for the Angels.
"As long as my arm is 100 percent and I feel like I can throw the ball how I'm capable of, then I expect to have the [closer's] role," Madson said. "I don't think anything's going to be given to me, but I'm definitely going to come to Spring Training and earn the job and show them that I'm healthy in that way, and I think I should have it."
The Angels have quite a familiarity with Madson, who lives in Temecula, Calif., had his Tommy John surgery performed by Angels medical director Dr. Lewis Yocum and rehabbed in Anaheim under the watch of team doctors this past season.
Madson, nearly eight months removed from the procedure, is currently doing 100 to 110 throws from 90 to 100 feet, making him "very confident" that he'll be "ready to go at the beginning of the season."
"I'm way ahead of where I thought I'd be at this point," he said, "and I've actually had to back down a little bit."
In a relievers' market where Jeremy Affeldt ($18 million with the Giants), Brandon League ($22.5 million with the Dodgers) and Jonathan Broxton ($21 million with the Reds) got lucrative three-year contracts, the Madson deal is essentially low-risk, high-reward -- the type that leaves the Angels with payroll flexibility to fill at least two holes in the rotation, perhaps keeping them alive on Zack Greinke.
But it's only a bargain if Madson reverts back to form after a lost 2012 in Cincinnati, taking control of the ninth inning and creating the kind of domino effect that will help the Angels return to the playoffs by improving on an American League-leading 47 saves the last two years.
Without going into specifics, Dipoto said he isn't done addressing the bullpen "by any stretch," a sentiment that may hinge on how the starting pitching market plays out.
With Madson joining the likes of Ernesto Frieri, Kevin Jepsen and Scott Downs, though, he can breathe a whole lot easier.
"Our ability to get the last nine outs just got a lot better," Dipoto said.
"If Ryan Madson is throwing the ball like he has over the course of time in the big leagues, and particularly the last five years before Tommy John, he's one of the premier relievers in the game."
The 6-foot-6 Madson solidified a late-inning role with the Phillies from 2008-11, using a mid-90s fastball and a devastating changeup to compile a 2.86 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP, while averaging 68 innings, 68 strikeouts and 18 walks per season. He became the full-time closer in 2011, posting a 2.37 ERA, going 32-for-34 in saves and giving up only two home runs while pitching mostly out of Citizens Bank Park, the hitter-friendly facility that was home to many big playoff games.
Just 12 months ago, he would've been a lot more expensive.
At around that time, the Phillies offered him a reported four-year, $44 million contract to return as their closer. But for some reason, they quickly turned their attention to Jonathan Papelbon, giving him a record $50 million while Madson was left dangling in the free-agent market until signing what Boras likes to call a "pillow contract" with the Reds on Jan. 13.
Madson's hope was to prove once again that he can be a full-time closer, then cash in on a more fruitful market this winter.
But his plans were derailed in Spring Training, when right elbow irritation that appeared non-threatening evolved into a blown-out elbow that would make him go under the knife on April 11, making him start over once more.
"If you know anything about me, you know that I'm a pleaser," Madson said. "I want to please, in any fashion I can. For me, it's the baseball field. And I wasn't able to do that for the Reds. They gave me such a great opportunity, just like the Angels have this year, and it just didn't work out. I was emotional."
Now the emotions are a bit different. Now the emotions come with the thrill of playing for his hometown team, in a situation that may be ideal for a guy trying to prove he's a legit closer once more.
Madson feels he's better equipped to handle that now -- "I'm an experienced guy, so I know the emotions aren't going to take over," he said -- and Dipoto thinks it can be a great advantage.
"That's something I don't think you can take for granted -- someone who's willing to go out there and fight for something that they've wanted to do their entire lives," Dipoto said. "There's a romantic edge to that, but there's also something that creates an edge that you just can't go out and replace."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.