Ryan Madson
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Ryan Madson might not play in 2019

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Free agent reliever Ryan Madson has yet to find a contract for the 2019 season. While he’s hardly the only one waiting for an attractive offer to roll in, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic says that Madson is considering not playing at all and will be “extremely picky” in the event that he decides to suit up and pitch for a team.

The 38-year-old has seen varying levels of success in the majors over the last several years. After turning in an eye-catching 1.83 ERA and 1.99 FIP during his 2017 campaign, he pitched to a combined 5.47 ERA, 2.7 BB/9, 9.2 SO/9, and career-low 0.2 fWAR across 52 2/3 innings for the Nationals and Dodgers in 2018. The righty tossed a handful of innings for the Dodgers during their postseason run — and appeared to regain some of his mojo in the process — but was subsequently granted free agency after their loss to the Red Sox in the World Series.

Given Madson’s strong peripherals and compelling past performance, however, it would be strange if he didn’t inspire at least a few offers before spring training rolls around. He was said to be “generating a lot of interest” around the league last month, but hasn’t been connected to any specific team except for the Twins, who have since hired lefty relievers Pat Dean and Tim Collins and taken a flyer on right-hander Zack Jones. There’s no word yet on what kind of contract or team Madson prefers, or what extraneous factor might persuade him to extend his MLB career another year or two.

Mad Dog Licks Boots

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Earlier this week Tyler Kepner of the New York Times reported that the MLBPA and the league are heading back to the table more than two years before the expiration of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, which expires following the 2021 season.

This had been hinted at for some time, as the union has shown clear displeasure at the current state of business, particularly with the free agent market. The league, one might assume, is happy with the current state of affairs, but it also has an interest in heading off potential strife or even the hint of a labor stoppage in the future. Moreover, there are priorities which have emerged on MLB’s part since the last CBA was signed that they’d love to advance — pace of play, etc. — so they have some incentive to talk as well. So, while it’s totally newsworthy that the sides are talking, it’s also quite understandable and not particularly controversial.

It’s also quite understandable that, given that this is a negotiation between parties in an adversarial position, there will be public comments from the principles which involve advocacy or even posturing on occasion. That’s part of the deal of any negotiation that holds public interest. So, when Tony Clark, for example, says something like “the system doesn’t work,” and “either we’re going to have a conversation now, or we’re going to have a louder conversation later,” which is what he told Kepner, it’s not really a controversial thing. Indeed, it’s expected.

Chris “Mad Dog” Russo thinks it’s pretty controversial, however. The MLB Network host and talk radio legend took to the airwaves yesterday blasting Clark for not being more deferential to Rob Manfred who “was nice enough to extend him an olive branch.”  Russo likewise asked, rhetorically, what “Rob” must’ve thought when reading Clark’s quotes “over his cup of coffee, and bran muffin, on Madison Avenue, after his workout and all those things . . . his morning coffee, milk and two sugars by the way — Sweet and Low.”

He’s the Mad Dog, but he certainly licks boots here:

 

It’s amusing enough that Russo believes that Clark, Manfred’s counterpart and adversary, is supposed to be deferential and thankful for the mighty Manfred. It’s even more amusing, however, that he takes the tack of arguing that MLB has no real interest in negotiating now and is somehow merely throwing the union a bone or offering an olive branch. In saying this Russo, whether he realizes it or not, is accusing Manfred of bad faith, optics-only talks with the union. I don’t feel like Manfred thinks he’s doing that. And I don’t think Clark would be talking to him if he felt he was being patronized to either. Indeed, the dance of the last several months around all of this was, in part, to ensure that that was not the case.

I don’t know what Manfred thought about Clark’s comments on Tuesday, but I do wonder how he feels about being accused by an MLB Network employee of playing games like this. It might be enough for him to spit out his bran muffin and coffee. Cream and two sugars and all.