On Wednesday morning, it looked like we were hours away from Ryan Madson's return to the Phillies on a four-year, $44 million deal with an option for a fifth year and $13 million more.
And then, just when it seemed like it was safe to take your Madson jersey out of storage, the whole thing came screeching to a halt. The deal wasn't just not quite done, it wasn't even imminent and, depending on who you believe, things were never all that close to begin with. There are plenty of possible snags.
One of the first things that looked like it was gumming up the works was the failure of Phillies CEO David Montgomery's okay for the deal to go ahead. Whether that was because he was busted doing other things or because he balked at the terms Ruben Amaro negotiated was unclear, but there were certainly breaks put on. If it was the latter, that could signal an issue within the management structure but with no real fire behind that smoke it isn't something we can really speculate about at this point.
The next possible problem is that Scott Boras is involved. Boras isn't above leaking news about a deal being imminent in order to gin up interest from other parties who might swoop in with a bigger bid than the one that's reportedly on the table. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX, the Nationals are a team that might be in the hunt for Madson.
Understanding why they would make such a move is difficult since they already have a good closer in Drew Storen who wouldn't make anywhere near the money of Storen, but the Nationals have never been the easiest front office to figure out.
Rosenthal also mentions something that's come up in other places, which is the possibility that the ongoing collective bargaining agreement negotiations might be slowing down the process. Don't worry about an NBA or NFL situation as everyone is convinced labor peace will remain in baseball, but the lack of a CBA is something that could make teams wait a little longer before pulling the trigger on a new deal.
As the Phillies have pulled back from Madson, there's also word that they are still talking with Jonathan Papelbon. There are worse strategies than letting it be known that you're willing to pay X for Madson while also keeping the door open for Papelbon to come in and say he'll take less than that to be your closer. The opposite is also true as Madson could lower his own demands in order to remain in Philly if he doesn't think he can do as well on the open market.
Does this mean the Phillies will have either Madson or Papelbon in the ninth inning next year? It certainly seems that way, but the last 36 hours have made it pretty clear that nothing's done until the contract is signed.