February 15th, 2014

Tigers take a look at Ryan Madson, but deal appears unlikely

When Dave Dombrowski talked with reporters at TigerFest last month and again at a Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association luncheon last week, he left the door open for the Tigers to add a reliever for depth if the fit was right. That didn’t happen, in part because the Tigers don’t have many bullpen spots open for competition, let alone a late-inning role.

If the Tigers were still to consider adding depth, a guy on the comeback trail would probably make more sense. So it shouldn’t be a surprise if the Tigers are spotted scouting workouts for pitchers recovering from surgery and trying to find a club. Ryan Madson fits the profile, having lost back-to-back seasons to injuries, and he threw for teams a week ago.

MLB.com’s Milwaukee reporter, Adam McCalvy, wrote about the level of Brewers interest yesterday. He also talked to one of the more than 50 scouts reportedly in attendance, who noted the Tigers among the scouts that appeared to be showing the most interest.

The Tigers did have a scout watching Madson. At this point, though, their interest appears to be limited to due diligence. They have a big enough Major League scouting staff that they can take a look when players hold workouts this time of year, but they don’t necessarily have the kind of role or offer Madson is seeking. MLB.com’s Phillies reporter, Todd Zolecki, cited sources saying Madson is seeking a Major League contract. The Tigers have always preferred a minor-league deal with a camp invite if they add anyone, which is as much about the pitchers they have on their 40-man roster as it is about who they would add.

“The market has been very slow for guys to sign,” Dombrowski said last week when asked if they were still open to adding bullpen depth. “We’re still open to it, but we’re also not somebody’s primary destination, because they look at us and think they have better opportunities in other places.”

The 33-year-old Madson was an outstanding closer in his last Major League season, saving 32 games for the Phillies in 2011 after several seasons as a workhorse reliever in their bullpen. He hasn’t pitched since, but by all accounts, he impressed in his workout, reportedly hitting 91-93 mph on his fastball.

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