So far, trade season has been rather boring. The Sox grabbed Drew Pomeranz, the Cubs traded for a rough human being, and we've waited patiently for trades to drop, yet nothing substantial has.
We know that the market is hot for pitchers. Somewhere around 30 innings of Chapman netted a top 50 prospect, a good pitcher, and some flashy lotto tickets, while Pom grabbed a very talented, yet far away flamethrower. The market hasn't been quite as hot for outfielders. The resurgent Melvin Upton netted little more than salary relief and with big name outfielders in big supply, it's unlikely someone will overpay for a guy like Josh Reddick.
So, the A's best chance at a splashy deadline may very well come from their arms. Rich Hill is still the best pitcher available but with the world's most resilient blister keeping him off the mound, the A's may be forced to look elsewhere to find their newest acquisitions.
Is there a market for Ryan Madson?
Madson has been a little bit brutal since joining the A's. He started out like the dominant reliever the Royals picked up last season, but since then he's been plagued by particularly dramatic homeruns. To most of us fans, Madson has been an optical migraine who has blown save after save.
The stuff is still there. The command and the brain have been off which in this, a game of inches, has been worth a few (non-country) miles. That's been a few memorable losses which has made Madson seem a lot worse than he probably is.
With late inning relievers, there's always the long asked question of what it takes to close. People leaning more closely to the traditional side of the game will argue the importance of defined roles, that the closer is the closer for a reason and that not everyone can handle the ninth. The opposite side buys into that idea that any pitcher should pitch at any time, and you should pitch your best pitcher when the game is on the line.
As with most issues that polarize people into far opposing sides, the answer is probably somewhere in the middle. Some players can probably be used in the Swiss army knife fashion, some aren't quite as able to handle late inning pressures. Here's how Madson has done in save situations this year, and in his career, compared with non-save situations.
He just hasn't performed well in save situations historically.
That's far from a sure thing, it could just be noise, and it's not nearly as large as indictment as his stuff. It's good, but it's probably not closer material. That's totally fine for the A's, you need good relievers and Madson can be one. Just don't expect a return like the Yankees got for Aroldis Chapman or the Phillies got for Ken Giles.
There's also the matter of his contract. Three years, $22 million is a lot to pay for Adrian Beltre's homerun derby pitcher but it's a solid deal for a good reliever. When considering the contract in a trade, it becomes even more ambiguous. A team with a shorter window would prefer a shorter deal, while teams hoping to stick around in 2017 and 2018 might not mind the extra two years. More importantly is how potential trade partners view Madson: does he have the stuff to be worth it for those two years?
All told, predicting Madson's value, especially in this market, isn't an easy task. At the very least, there's a team out there that would take on his contract. More likely, you could receive a decent prospect package in return. If Chapman netted the world and Dario Alvarez netted a lottery ticket, a guy with a history like Madson should bring you back a lottery ticket or two that's worth keeping around.
When the A's signed Madson to a three year deal, they obviously envisioned him helping in 2017 and 2018. Has his poor showing this year made the chance of a good reliever for two more years not worth the risk?
The final factor is trading a guy so early in his three year deal. The A's aren't exactly considered the Google of baseball employers to begin with, and trading a guy 1/6th of the way into his deal won't help that reputation. This is a more intangible factor to consider and it's not rare for teams to have some type of buyer's remorse. But it's still a factor of some sort.