Ryan Madson a steal for Cincy 

January, 11, 2012

The Cincinnati Reds got perhaps the deal of the offseason so far by signing Ryan Madson to a one-year, $8.5 million deal, a guaranteed contract that allows Madson to try to demolish any concerns about his ability to handle the ninth inning on a full-time basis and re-enter the free-agent market next winter.

Madson switched his approach in 2011 from a three-pitch mix to a two-pitch mix with the occasional cutter, and his out-pitch changeup became even more devastating along the way. That changeup is one of the best in the majors: He hides the ball well, it looks like his 92-95 mph fastball coming out of his hand and it often has late downward action on it. He's a moderate ground ball pitcher who has had very good success keeping the ball, even balls hit in the air, in the park since he moved to the bullpen, a key trait for a pitcher who'll throw half his innings in a homer-friendly stadium.

Keith Law

ESPN Senior Writer