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Madson’s Availability Vindicates Phillies

Jan 9, 2012, 2:41 PM EDT

Ryan Madson is still a free agent, which suggests the Phils made the right call by going with Jonathan Papelbon.

When the Phillies chose to sign Jonathan Papelbon to an enormous contract rather than stick with Ryan Madson in the closer role, the decision sparked instant debate. There was a surprising amount of grumbling over bringing in a four-time All Star who is eighth among active pitchers with 219 saves, but the fact is many fans preferred Madson.

But nearly two full months later, Madson is still a free agent. If he was truly the better option for the Phillies, why hasn’t he been claimed yet?

The latest reports suggest it’s not for lack of interest. At least three teams are said to have their eyes on Madson, possibly more — just not until his asking price comes down.

Days before the Phils came to terms with Papelbon, there was a rumored four-year deal worth $44 million on the table for Madson, so it’s believed he is looking for north of $10 mil per.

Meanwhile, the Miami Marlins skipped right over Madson, scooping up Heath Bell instead. They gave Bell three years, $27 million. The longer this drags on, you have to wonder if he’s even in line for something of that magnitude.

For some people, no closer is worth the $50 million the Phillies gave Papelbon, but the bottom line is Madson is not viewed around the league the way he was here. That’s not to say there isn’t time for him to prove doubters wrong, but he doesn’t have the same track record as top-tier closers like Papelbon, or even Bell. That would seem to justify splurging a little to make the switch.

For an alternate take on the Phillies’ decision to part ways with Ryan Madson in favor of Jonathan Papelbon click here.