Ryan Madson to Have Tommy John Surgery

The hits just keep on coming. Per Ken Rosenthal, Ryan Madson is the latest pitcher to need Tommy John surgery, and will be lost for the 2012 season. The falling dominos will push Sean Marshall into the closer’s role with the Reds, and Aroldis Chapman will move back to the bullpen to replace Marshall in the vacated lefty setup role.

Obviously, this is lousy news for both Madson and the Reds, and you can’t help but wonder how this might have changed the face of the National League race had things turned out differently this winter. Depending on who you believe, the Phillies were either considering or had already agreed to a four year, $44 million deal with Madson, but ended up going after Jonathan Papelbon instead. Had the Phillies finalized that deal with Madson instead of Papelbon, we might be talking about the Marlins or Braves as frontrunners for the NL East today.

Instead, this deals a significant blow to the Reds chances of taking the NL Central, and perhaps evens out yesterday’s news that the Cardinals have lost Chris Carpenter “indefinitely”. The Reds have enough talent to contend this year, but without Madson, their bullpen takes a significant hit. Cincinnati desperately needs Chapman to get back to his dominating 2010 form, rather than the inconsistent hurler he was last year.

I also wonder how this news will affect players willingness to bet on themselves by taking Scott Boras’ advice and going for a one year “pillow contract”. Madson took a one year deal to attempt to cash in big next winter, but this news is going to crush his potential for future earnings, and in reality, he may have missed his only chance to land a long term contract. It will be interesting to see whether players begin to decide that they’re better off taking the security of a multi-year deal when they have the chance, rather than deciding that they can do better in 12 months and betting on a one year deal.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.