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Should Phillies Take Aim at Madson?

Could former Phillie come back to the team?

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    Ryan Madson's return to the Phillies seems unlikely.

    Former Phillies reliever Ryan Madson is back on the market after pitching a grand total of zero games during a season lost to injury in Cincinnati.

    He declined his 2013 option from the Reds on Wednesday, according to CBSSPorts.com's Jon Heyman. The 32-year-old, who missed the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, signed with the Reds before the start of the season, and had a mutual option (that would have likely been declined by the Reds) worth $11 million for 2013. Instead, Madson will earn a $2.5-million buyout.

    The right-hander, who was not re-signed by the Phillies after the 2011 season, has been one of the game's best relief pitchers over the last five years, and has a 2.89 ERA and an 8.6 K/9 in 329.2 innings since 2007.

    This move, although curious at first, is not that surprising. Even though the Reds would have declined their side of the option, it's funny that Madson decided to strike first. After all, it's possible that the Reds could've kept Madson for 2013, only to trade him mid-season to someone who needed a closer. Plus, who turns down that kind of money, voluntarily? Most folks would be crazy to turn down one million dollars for a year's worth of work, much less 11 million. But Ryan Madson isn't most folks. He's a baseball player who has earned north of $20 million over his career, so for him, he doesn't really "need" the money like most people.

    Maybe Madson knew the Reds would decline it, or maybe he just wanted to get the show on the road so he could start looking for a job for next year. Whatever the case, it's a smart move, because with Aroldis Chapman owning the closer's role (and opposing hitters) in Cincy, Madson wasn't going to get a chance to close out games for the N.L. Central champs next season.

    As a free agent, he can re-enter the market as a closer and hope to latch onto a team that is in need of a ninth-inning guy. Say, like the Marlins, the Red Sox or the Royals. Not only does it allow him to build up his value for 2014 (assuming he signs a one-year deal), but it also allows whatever team that signs him to get a fair bit of value for a great price.

    Your next question might be "would he return to the Phillies?" The short answer is no, and the long answer is yeah, maybe if every other avenue has been exhausted and he literally has no other prospects on the open market. For him, the Phillies offer no chance to close, so it doesn't make sense for him to return. The Phillies, on the other hand, would be smart to kick his tires and see if he is interested. The bullpen should be in good shape next year, what with all the young, live arms that they have, but Madson should prove to be a stabilizing force in the eighth inning, which would improve the bullpen a considerable degree.

    Knowing Amaro and Madson's familiarity with the team and the city, it could happen. It's wildly unlikely, but I, for one, would relish the opportunity to see him in red pinstripes for one more season.