A Nationals scout attended the public workout of free agent reliever Ryan Madson in Phoenix on Friday and, according to a person familiar with the situation, were impressed by the right-hander. Madson, 33, who last pitched in the major leagues in 2011 when he saved 32 games for the Philadelphia Phillies, is believed to finally be fully healthy after 2012 Tommy John surgery.
Madson tore a ligament in his right elbow in spring training with the Cincinnati Reds in 2012 and didn’t throw a pitch for them all season. He signed an incentive-laden, one-year, $3.5-million deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last offseason, hoping to serve as their closer, but had several setbacks in his return and didn’t throw a pitch for them in majors either. He was released in August.
According to the person, Madson touched 93 miles per hour in the recent workout, only his fourth bullpen session. It’s unclear when Madson would be ready to pitch in games. Given Madson’s injury history, he could potentially have to agree to a minor league deal to prove himself. If so, Madson could be had with minimal risk. The Nationals have shown a willingness to take on players with injury history and a skill in rehabbing pitchers with elbow issues, such as Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Lucas Giolito and Christian Garcia.
The Red Sox attended Madson’s workout last week, according to the Boston Globe. The Phillies and Madson have mutual interest in a reunion, according to CSNPhilly.com. It is believed that about 15 teams attended Madson’s workout.
Madson, who used to have a mid-90s fastball and a strong change-up, was a stalwart in the Phillies bullpens during their run of five straight National League East titles. The former setup man posted a 3.01 ERA and 8.4 K/9 rate from 2007 to 2010, and then saved 32 games with a 2.37 ERA as the Phillies closer in 2011. Jayson Werth, a former teammate of Madson in Philadelphia, talked to the reliever in the winter of 2011 about the Nationals’ future before the right-hander signed with the Reds.