Ryan Madson walked into the Royals complex in Surprise, Ariz., in February without a major-league contract and with merely an outside chance of making the Opening Day roster after sitting out the previous three seasons. Nine months later, he will exit the organization in possession of a multiyear deal and a sizable payday.
Madson has agreed to a three-year, $22 million contract with Oakland, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person requested anonymity because the contract is pending a physical. Madson missed all of 2012 to 2014 because of complications from Tommy John surgery.
Madson, 35, posted a 2.13 ERA for the Royals during the regular season, with 58 strikeouts in 63 1/3 innings. He struggled at times during the playoffs, with a 5.40 ERA, but he still served as the team’s primary setup man in October.
His departure creates another hole in the Kansas City bullpen as the team’s brain trust arrives in Nashville for the Winter Meetings on Sunday. The Royals had interest in retaining Madson, but he served as perhaps the second-most attractive reliever on the free-agent market. After Darren O’Day reportedly inked a four-year, $31 million contract to stay in Baltimore, Madson moved to the top of the list.
Kansas City has shown interest in a reunion with former closer Joakim Soria, according to people familiar with the situation. The team is also trying to re-sign Greg Holland, who was non-tendered last week and will not pitch in 2016 as he recovers from elbow reconstruction.
With Madson gone, the remnants of the Kansas City bullpen include closer Wade Davis, All-Star reliever Kelvin Herrera, Luke Hochevar and Tommy John recipient Tim Collins. The team could also shift Danny Duffy into the bullpen, where he pitched in the playoffs, but not before the club gives up on him as a starting pitcher.