The White Sox need a closer after trading away Sergio Santos in the first of two offseason deals with the Toronto Blue Jays. The potential names for a replacements have included Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain and rookie Addison Reed.
As a Sox fan I've seen what Thornton can do and I'll pass. Thrust in the role of closer last season, Thornton struggled mightily with his control. He had only been a starter and setup man prior to getting the nod to replace Bobby Jenks, and it proved to be a huge mistake. The same thing happened with lefty Chris Sale and perhaps that explains why he hasn't received much consideration this time around.
We also have seen Crain in the closer's role for a game or two here and there but never full-time. Should that give us a sigh of relief?
The closer may just be the second most important piece to the White Sox puzzle only behind the starting rotation. If the starters pitch the way they are capable of (that includes a return to form of Jake Peavy) and the defense improves, the Sox will need a lights-out closer to keep the wins coming.
I'm not sure what to expect from Addison Reed but would you trust him to hold a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the ninth with Howie Kendrick on first base and Albert Pujols at bat?
Before the Texas Rangers come up with a financial package, White Sox GM Kenny Williams should swoop in and offer a two-year deal in the $5-7 million range for Madson who had 37 saves last year. In order to sweeten the deal, Williams can add a team option for a third year to the deal.
Madson is a strike-out pitcher who has a ton of postseason experience. He also can handle the rigors of pitching to American League lineups having pitched in the N.L. East, a division that features a few American League-type teams. With only allowing 16 walks and two homers in 60.2 innings pitched, he has the necessary control to deal with the homer-friendly U.S. Cellular Field.
This signing also allows Reed the opportunity to close on occasions. The Sox can groom him for the role and have him ready for the future. With Madson on board, there would be less pressure for Reed and eventually Madson can turn into a bona fide trading chip down the road.
If the Sox don't go after Madson, I'd prefer they'd go with Reed over Thornton and Crain at this point. No one has seen him pitch yet. With Madson on board, the Sox rebuilding might turn into a mute point.
The Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians will be improved, no question. The thinking is this: all the Sox will need is some strong starting pitching, stellar defense and bounce back years from Adam Dunn and Alex Rios. Add a good closer in Madson to that mix and the Sox are back in business, without the pressure.