The big story in baseball right now is...well, it's kind of hard to figure out what the big story in baseball right now is.* Maybe it's Wilson Ramos getting kidnapped from his home in Venezuela, but then, Sportscenter just went an entire episode without mentioning his name once. Maybe it's the ongoing CBA negotiations. Maybe it's the White Sox agreeing to a minor league contract with Donnie Veal. Or maybe it's the drama playing out over Ryan Madson's contract talks with the Phillies.
* it's Ramos
In case you're unaware, rumor had it that Madson and the Phillies had agreed to a four-year contract worth $44 million, with a fifth-year option. Some went so far as to say that the deal was done, and was simply awaiting approval from general partner David Montgomery. It looked like Madson returning to Philadelphia - at a hefty cost - was all but a given.
And now things have crumbled. Ken Rosenthal reports that Madson and the Phillies never reached a deal. There's talk that the Phillies are interested in Jonathan Papelbon, and that other teams are still looking at Madson. Jon Heyman thinks the Madson/Phillies negotiations might fall through. Nothing is a given anymore, and Madson might again be considered a normal, available free agent closer.
Now, Madson could still re-sign with Philadelphia. He could still get the rumored contract. It's possible that the contract is indeed sitting on Montgomery's desk, or at least that it's not far from doing so. All we've truly been told is that things aren't as close as they seemed to be.
But at this point, it doesn't matter that much. I mean, it does matter, obviously, whether or not Madson re-signs, because that would mean the Phillies either do or do not have Ryan Madson. But when it comes to this contract having an impact on the market, I have to think that impact's already been made, even without any contract being signed.
What we know is that, at some point, Ryan Madson and the Philadelphia Phillies came very close to agreeing to a four-year contract worth $44 million. The contract had a $13 million option year. That contract was immediately deemed to be too steep by the overwhelming majority of interested parties. And now, even if that contract doesn't get signed, it's going to have an effect. It's going to put a price in Madson's head. It's going to put a price in Papelbon's head, and in Heath Bell's head. It's going to put a price in Ruben Amaro's head. And so on.
To whatever degree one contract can influence a market, I think Madson's almost-contract will influence the market. The market was already looking relatively inflated before, and the numbers around Madson only made it appear even more so. Based on the evidence we've collected, teams are really going to have to spend to land free agent talent.
This isn't a huge deal. It isn't a game-changer. Ryan Madson isn't Alex Rodriguez. Ryan Madson's contract isn't going to shove the free agent market completely out of whack. But I think the numbers we've already seen are going to have an effect, and they'll have that effect whether Madson signs that contract or not.