Commentary

Buyer's guide: Relief pitchers

Ryan Madson tops this list, but Jonathan Papelbon will be in high demand

Originally Published: November 11, 2011
By Keith Law | ESPN Insider
Jonathan PapelbonJim Rogash/Getty ImagesCloser Jonathan Papelbon will be a highly sought-after commodity this offseason.

Keith Law has already ranked his top 50 free agents, but now he takes you on a more detailed, position-by-position look through the available players. Today, it's relief pitchers.

Players in demand

1. Ryan Madson, RHP: It was reported earlier in the week that the Phillies and Madson had agreed on a four-year, $44 million contract, but the deal has not been finalized. I wouldn't give Madson four years and $44 million because I wouldn't give any reliever that kind of contract -- but don't mistake my criticism of the Phillies' reported deal with Madson as a criticism of Madson the pitcher. I'd give him more money and more years than any other reliever on this market, and I think he has the best chance to defy the high attrition rates that characterize his brethren of the bullpen. He throws hard, misses bats with his changeup, pounds the strike zone (eight unintentional walks in 2011, 10 the year before) and is as good a bet as anyone on this market to avoid arm injury. I just wouldn't give any reliever four years.

2. Jonathan Papelbon, RHP: As long as he throws his splitter to keep hitters from teeing off on the fastball, he'll be OK. He can't live on the fastball alone, and I don't think he's staring at another six or seven years of throwing that hard for that many innings.