The Astros have already significantly upgraded their bullpen this offseason. But could they take a flier on another former premium reliever?
Earlier this offseason Peter Moylan signed a minor league deal. The low-risk, high reward type signing is an insurance policy for the 2014 season. Additions such as Chad Qualls and Matt Albers should make the Astros bullpen more dependable. Of course there’s always the hope that these veterans will pay dividends through guiding some of the younger arms in the bullpen.
Maybe Ryan Madson is set up to receive a similar deal to Moylan. Though Madson could possibly earn much more through incentives, a signing would be pretty much low-risk due to his recent history. Baseball-Reference lists him at 6’6″ and 210 pounds.
His major league debut came all the way back in 2003 — two years prior to the Astros’ World Series run, so it may be hard to believe he is just 33 years old. In the time that has passed Madson has compiled a 3.59 career ERA in 630 innings. His presence on the mound has been lost recently due to Tommy John Surgery prior to the 2012 season and further setbacks halting his return. Though he signed an offseason deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, he was ultimately released last August.
Hopefully the Houston Astros are interested in signing this guy. Half of baseball is interested and has scouted him at his most recent bullpen session, according to MLB Trade Rumors. Of course due to his recent string of injuries there are concerns that he will not be major league ready. Perhaps the days of him being a flamethrower are over and he must rely on mixing his pitchers more. Then again, this showcase was only his fourth bullpen session and he still has time to improve his velocity, which is already at 93 m.p.h.
The Astros should at least talk to Madson. Who knows? Maybe he will come to Spring Training and force his way on to the team. But I would not be comfortable in simply giving him a major league contract. Madson would need to establish himself again during time in the Grapefruit League and possibly some work in the minors.