The Dodgers are intent on adding pitching this offseason, and while they lost out in their pursuit of starter Zack Greinke the club is also looking for bullpen help as well. To that end, the Dodgers are pursuing reliever Ryan Madson, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com and Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, with Jon Heyman of CBS Sports confirming and noting the A's are interested in Madson as well.
Madson, 35, is the new target because the Dodgers are reportedly out of the sweepstakes for Darren O'Day, who is reportedly down to choosing between the Nationals or returning to the Orioles, per both Bill Ladson of MLB.com and Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.
Madson had a nice comeback season for the Royals in 2015, putting up a 2.13 ERA and 3.09 FIP in 68 games, striking out 58 strikeouts and just 14 walks in 63⅓ innings. Right-handed batters hit .205/.264/.333 against him, while left-handers hit just .205/.244/.304.
While he only allowed five home runs during the regular season, Madson gave up four homers in the postseason for Kansas City, putting up a 5.40 ERA in 8⅓ innings, though he also struck out 15 against only three walks, including three scoreless innings with five strikeouts during the World Series.
He was drafted by the Phillies in the ninth round in 1998 out of Valley View High School in Moreno Valley, and pitched for Philadelphia for nine seasons, saving 32 games in 2011. He hit free agency after a five-year run with the Phillies (2007-2011) that saw him put up a 2.89 ERA, 3.14 FIP and 49 saves while averaging 62 games, 66 innings, 63 strikeouts and 19 walks per season.
Madson was close to returning to the Phillies but ended up in Cincinnati, and explained how in October 2015 to Billy Witz of the New York Times.
"I remember seeing my name and a four-year, $44 million contract on the bottom of the TV," Madson said. "It said we’d agreed to terms on it. That’s where things went awry."
Madson said Boras told him the Phillies reneged on a verbal agreement. Ruben Amaro Jr., then the team’s general manager, told Madson they had never agreed on a fourth year. The day after the agreement fell apart, the Phillies signed Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year, $50 million contract.
Madson settled for a one-year, $8.5 million deal with Cincinnati. He regrets not being more involved, saying he would have accepted three years.
But Madson never even pitched for the Reds, tearing an elbow ligament during spring training and requiring Tommy John surgery. He tried to come back with the Angels in 2013 but was released in August after pitching just one inning for Class-A Inland Empire.
Madson sat out in 2014, staying home with his kids, but a call from former Phillies executive Jim Fregosi Jr. - who signed Madson in Philadelphia - now with the Royals turned things around. From Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (and, in January, the new Dodgers beat writer for the Los Angeles Times) in October:
Fregosi had a simple request. He wanted Madson to tutor a high school prospect in their town named Johnny Morell. The two began to play catch, first a few times a week, and then every day. Reticent at first, Madson felt inspired to climb atop a mound for the first time in months. Watching Morell, who is now preparing for his senior season, reminded Madson not to ignore the chances in front of him.
During the winter, Madson reached out to Fregosi. He was willing to try out one more time.
"I totally had faith in Ryan," Morell said. "I knew that if he put his mind to it, he could do it again."
Madson returned to baseball as a non-roster invitee with the Royals. He made the team in spring training, and put up a stellar season that was reminiscent of his days in Philadelphia.
During his five-year peak with the Phillies (2007-2011), Madson struck out 23.1 percent of his batters faced, walked 7.1 percent and threw his four-seam fastball 95.12 mph on average and his sinker 94.43 mph, the latter per Brooks Baseball. In 2015 with the Royals, Madson struck out 23.4 percent, walked 5.6 percent, threw his fastball 94.84 mph and his sinker 94.63 mph.
Madson had a 55-percent ground ball rate in 2015, compared to 48.3 percent in his career.