Multiple reports (including Yahoo! Sports) this week suggested Madson and the Phillies were close on a four-year, $44 million contact and that there remained only some conversation about a vesting fifth-year option.
It made sense. The Phillies were getting their closer back, and Madson was getting something close to the going rate.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. apparently took the framework of the deal to president Dave Montgomery, who refused to sign off. On Thursday, Amaro told ESPN there had never been an agreement, and in fact called reports of the agreement “unequivocally false,” which presumably would be a huge surprise to Boras and his client.
Now, Amaro has done plenty of deals, so he likely knows what an agreement looks like. And Boras has done thousands, so he probably has a feel for what constitutes an agreement and what is just talk. He did tell Madson there was an agreement, so he certainly believed they had one, and Boras doesn’t make those kinds of errors.
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Officials around the game suggest two possible scenarios:
One, the first big contract of the offseason could harm the ongoing CBA negotiations, suggesting owners believe a deal is a formality. That doesn’t help their position – or the players’ mood – a month away from the current deal’s expiration.
Two, MLB believed $11 million a year – and another $13 million as a vesting option – was rather high for pitcher who’s closed for one year, and in a winter in which Jonathan Papelbon(notes) and Heath Bell(notes) also are on the market.
Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how this plays. If Boras and Madson believe they had what amounted to a handshake agreement, and Amaro returns to the table with fewer years and dollars, that might not play very well in the Boras camp.
Meantime, reports in Philadelphia say the Phillies are now engaged with Papelbon’s agents.
Reached Thursday night, Boras would not comment on Madson but did say Prince Fielder’s(notes) free agency is proving to be healthy, as expected.
“He’s a rock star,” Boras said.
Boras’ higher-end free agents include Fielder, Edwin Jackson(notes), Carlos Pena, Francisco Rodriguez, Johnny Damon(notes) and Madson.