With the emergence and improvement of Antonio Bastardo, free agent-to-be Ryan Madson and his lofty price tag have become expendable. Would it be nice if Madson would return? Absolutely. He's clearly better than any Phillies relievers not named Antonio.
It's unfortunate, with the future payroll obligations and Madson's likely $8 million dollar plus multi-year deal, that he cannot return. Bastardo, who is just as good while being five years younger and very cheap, can fill the closer void with Madson's departure.
While Bastardo is not as good as his 1.42 ERA might suggest, due to good BABIP(.149) and left on base percentage(93%) luck, he's still been tremendous, posting a 2.38 SIERA and 2.71 FIP. The primary reason for the jump is his ability to get swing and misses. His contact percentage has dipped below 70 percent, good for eighth among major league relievers with a minimum of 40 innings. Madson has not been too shabby in his own right with a contact percentage just north of 70 percent.
Like Madson's changeup, Bastardo's go to pitch has been a devastating slider. According to Fangraphs, his slider has saved 3.81 runs per 100 pitches, good for ninth among relievers in the majors. There will probably be some regression with that number, but it is still very impressive.
If Bastardo did not progress the way he has, Ruben Amaro Jr. would be in a tough predicament of either overpaying yet another player or risk having a questionable bullpen in 2012. Amaro better offer arbitration in order to receive first round compensation when he signs elsewhere. In the worst-case scenario Madson surprisingly accepts arbitration and we have him for another year at roughly $8 million.