Rays, Red Sox, Cardinals may be fallbacks for Ryan Madson

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Ryan Madson likely had a smile on his face back in early November when Jonathan Papelbon signed a four-year, $50 million contract with the Phillies.

That deal set the bar high for free agent closers, and Madson — with stats similar to Papelbon’s in recent years — probably figured he would also cash in.

But the market for relievers has since crashed, and there is no longer a line of teams looking to spend big on bullpen help. So where does Madson turn?

According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Rays, Red Sox and Cardinals “will be interested” in Madson “when and if” his current price drops. They won’t be offering four-year deals, and Boston and St. Louis can’t guarantee him a ninth-inning job out of the gate, but they’re all three projected to contend in 2012. And that might be worth something to Madson if, as expected, he’s unable to find the kind of massive contract he was looking for when this offseason began.

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson to table extension talks

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Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.

Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.

The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.

If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.