Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington admitted his club has less payroll flexibility than past seasons, and as teams continue to solve their ninth-inning needs, that's bad news for Ryan Madson. [Link]
Madson, who was 32-for-34 in save opportunities in his first season as a full-time closer, has seen the closer market collapse, while the Red Sox, the largest-market team with a ninth-inning vacancy, appears to be in no great rush to fill it. ‘We can kind of let the market come to us," Cherington told WEEI in Boston. “We’ve had conversations with the agents for both guys (Madson and free agent starter Joe Saunders) as well as several other free agent options. We’ll continue dialogue. We don’t have as much room in our payroll as we’ve had in previous years, but we’re trying to figure out ways to improve our pitching staff. Maybe we have to be a little more creative this winter in doing that than in some other winters, but we’re not ruling out anything."
Madson, who is the best closer on the market, rejected the Phillies' arbitration offer and could very well settle for a two-year deal, or even a one-year deal, somewhere anyway, including a renegotiated deal with the Phillies. Peter Gammons reported at the Winter Meetings that clubs were unwilling to go beyond $7 million a season for Madson or any of the other remaining closers. It's possible Mad Dog may wind up with only $7-8 million guaranteed dollars while Jonathan Papelbon got over $50 million and Heath Bell received $27 million.
Jimmy Rollins, the Phillies' other marquee free agent, has also seen his market shrink.