Scott Boras and Ruben Amaro Jr. disagree about why Ryan Madson didn’t re-sign with the Phillies

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Shortly after the start of free agency multiple sources reported that Ryan Madson and the Phillies had agreed to a four-year, $44 million contract, but that deal fell through and Philadelphia quickly signed Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year, $50 million deal instead.

Now two months later Madson settled for a one-year, $8.5 million deal with the Reds and today agent Scott Boras shared his side of the Madson/Phillies story with Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com:

It’s very simple. We never rejected any offer from Philadelphia at four years and $44 million. We advised Philadelphia that we would agree to such a proposal. And Philadelphia decided upon hearing that to go in a different direction. We agreed to a four-year, $44 million offer, and Philadelphia decided to sign someone else.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has a much different view of how things played out:

There’s no reason for me to get into a public debate with Scott on this. I have no desire to do that. All I can tell you is, there was never an agreement, and we decided that we wanted to sign someone with the experience and the ability of Jonathan Papelbon. So we went that route. There’s no question we had discussions with Ryan about bringing him back. We had several discussions about it. But no agreement was made. If we had come to an agreement, we would have signed him.

Obviously something unusual happened at some point in the negotiations, but for Boras to claim that the two sides had an agreement seems like a stretch, if only because he hasn’t filed any sort of grievance on behalf a client who’s out more than $30 million. If he truly believed that Amaro and the Phillies backed out of an agreed upon contract worth $44 million, why wouldn’t Boras have raised hell?

Of course, while the situation is unfortunate for Madson it’s very fortunate for the Reds, who get a top-notch reliever for a one-year commitment while guys like Papelbon, Heath Bell, and Joe Nathan got multi-year deals. Heck, even Frank Francisco got two years and $12 million from the Mets.

And while Amaro might look smart for avoiding a $44 million commitment to Madson considering how the 31-year-old right-hander’s market played out, the fact that he gave $50 million to Papelbon in a market flush with quality closers sort of makes that tough to praise.

Going forward, it’ll be interesting to see if Boras’ disagreement with Amaro makes his clients less likely to wind up in Philadelphia. If the money is right, probably not.

There is, indeed, an MLB-to-Portland group

Associated Press
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On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”

There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.

It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:

On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.

“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”

One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.

None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”