The Los Angeles Angels signed right-hander Ryan Madson to a one-year deal last night, still pending a successful physical. While the specific financial details of the agreement are still under wraps, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports that the deal is a " a one-year, incentive-laden contract with a low base salary".
It's always a risk putting money down on a player recovering from Tommy John surgery, but a one-year deal laden with performance incentives for a pitcher of Madson's calibre has great potential to pay huge dividends for the Halos. Before Madson lost one of his ulnar collateral ligaments last April, he was one of the premier relievers in the game. Moving to the bullpen full-time in 2007, the tall right-hander posted a 2.89 ERA, 2.6 BB/9 rate and 8.6 K/9 rate in his final five years with the Phillies, culminating in his taking over as closer part-way through the 2011 season.
Assuming that Madson will be both healthy and effective in Orange County, the move immediately bolsters the Halos' bullpen by allowing the entire relief corps to shift their responsibilities down an inning. Ernesto Frieri will move into the setup role, Scott Downs and Jordan Walden will share seventh inning duties, and a combination of Kevin Jepsen, Nick Maronde and a reliever to be named later (possibly Bobby Cassevah) will take everything else.
While moving relievers to earlier innings does not necessarily mean the leverage of their situations will lessen, it does push a reliever or two at the bottom of the totem pole out of the mix entirely (i.e. happy retirement, Jason Isringhausen).
Even if Madson ends up commanding $9 or $10 million from the Angels next year, it's unclear why his signing was immediately followed by speculation that the club is out of the running for Zack Greinke, who has been the team's primary re-acquisition target since bringing him to Anaheim in July. If Jerry Dipoto wants to sign Greinke, a one-year deal* for a reliever is not going to stop that from happening.
*Dipoto has now signed three free-agent relievers since taking over as GM last year. All of them have been on one-year deals. Angels fans have to love that.