How the Ryan Madson deal fell apart

Ryan Madson had a $44 million contract offer, until he didn't. Jake Roth/US Presswire

When a team and a player engage in contract talks, there’s still one golden rule -- nothing is binding unless there is a signed, written agreement.

Ryan Madson learned that they hard way when the four-year, $44 million deal he agreed to with the Philadelphia Phillies fell apart earlier this week, then the club turned around and agreed to terms with Jonathan Papelbon instead.

Sure, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. might have offered a four-year, $44 million deal to Madson through his agent, Scott Boras. And Madson might have said those kinds of dollars and terms were acceptable to him. And Phillies president David Montgomery might have nixed the deal or simply not approved it. But bottom line, since Madson didn’t sign anything, there’s simply no binding agreement. No signed agreement, no deal.

Sources close to the negotiations say Amaro and Boras had five negotiating sessions, and by Monday, Nov. 7, Amaro had increased his offer from $9 million a year to $11 million a year. Boras had consented to reduce the years of the deal from five years to four with a vesting option based on games finished. The vesting option, award bonuses and limited no-trade clause were eventually agreed upon before Amaro mentioned that Montgomery needed to approve the deal, which never happened.

Concurrently, the Phillies were pursuing Papelbon. Though early reports of Madson’s terms made it sound as if a deal was done, Amaro insists no deal was imminent. What they did acquire, however, was the knowledge of what it would take to sign Madson. Armed with that information, they could use that as a basis to sign Papelbon. And Jim Salisbury is reporting that they did just that, in the neighborhood of four years and $50 million, which is pretty much what I predicted. The Phillies somehow managed to hedge their bets and constructed a seemingly win-win situation for themselves.

The only loser in the matter? Ryan Madson. In this case, he has been hung out to dry and used as leverage.