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Phillies Down to a “Coin Toss” between Madson and Papelbon?

Nov 9, 2011, 4:47 PM EDT

The Phillies are negotiating with both Ryan Madson and long-time Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. Phils beat writer Todd Zolecki is calling the talks "a coin flip" between the two.

We wrote last night that the Phillies were getting close to signing closer Ryan Madson to a long-term extension. The deal has been rumored to be in the ballpark of 4 years and $44 million, with a fifth-year vesting option for the 31-year-old reliever.

Though it’s true the team is in negotiations with Madson and his agent—Scott Boras—there are also reports that the Phillies are interested in, and potentially negotiating with, long-time Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon.

Earlier this afternoon, in a segment with Glen Macnow and Anthony Gargano on WIP, Phils beat writer Todd Zolecki, in considering those reports, characterized the negotiations as “a potential coin flip” between one or the other.

Looking over his recent history, Papelbon’s once untouchable persona has taken a few hits— as he’s surrendered plenty of them—over the last two seasons. Rebounding from a difficult year in 2010, 2011 was actually step back in the right direction for the (also) 31-year-old.

Unfortunately for Papelbon, September did not treat him kindly. The good work he had put in, and good will he had earned back, from April through August—uh, ignoring June—quickly evaporated when his fastball flattened and his velocity dropped. Those who watched the Orioles-Red Sox series at the end of the season were left with the lasting image of a pitcher who looked like his best days were already behind him.

If that is the case, then the Phillies could be “flipping a coin” between a pitcher who may be entering the downside of his career and another who may still be improving.

Doesn’t seem like much of a toss up, especially if the former will be demanding money anywhere close to the deal described above.

“Whaddaya say, kid?” Interested in Jonathan Papelbon?