General Manager Jerry Dipoto believes he landed the "anchorman" for the Angels' bullpen in Ryan Madson, who on Wednesday finalized a one-year, $3.5-million deal with the club that includes an additional $3.5 million in incentives.
To have the kind of impact the Angels envision, Madson must bounce back from elbow ligament-replacement surgery that sidelined him for 2012. That's a tall task even for a 6-foot-6 right-hander with a 94-mph fastball and devastating changeup, but one he's convinced he can accomplish.
"I have all the confidence I'll be ready for the season in full force," said Madson, who is eight months removed from the procedure. "As long as my arm is 100% and I can throw like I'm capable of, I expect to have that ninth-inning role."
Madson, an Angels fan while growing up in Moreno Valley, said he is "right on schedule" with his rehabilitation, making 100 throws a day from 90 to 100 feet.
If Madson, 32, can regain his 2011 form, when he was 4-2 with a 2.37 earned-run average and 32 saves in 34 chances for Philadelphia, he would be a low-cost, high-reward investment for a team that led the American League with 47 blown saves the last two seasons.
Madson, who struck out 62, walked 16 and held left-handers to a .198 average in 602/3 innings 2011, would push 2012 closer Ernesto Frieri to a setup role. Hard-throwing right-handers Kevin Jepsen and Jordan Walden would handle the sixth and seventh innings, major trouble spots last season.
Veteran Scott Downs, who shared closing duties with Frieri in the first half of 2012, could float from short relief to left-handed specialist.
Madson, who pitched in the 2008 and 2009 World Series for the Phillies, is 2-1 with a 2.31 ERA and two saves in 33 postseason games.
"With his pedigree, track record of success, what he's done in pressure situations, this is a real get for us. He has the chance to be a big difference maker in 2013," Dipoto said. "He creates bullpen depth and our ability to get the last nine outs just got a lot better. He's one of the premier relievers in the game."
Madson can earn an additional $2.5 million in bonuses, $500,000 each for one, 45, 90, 135 and 180 days on the active roster, and $1 million in incentives, $250,000 each for 35, 40, 45 and 50 games finished.
But the typical recovery period from Tommy John surgery is 12 months, so there is a chance Madson will open 2013 on the disabled list. There is also a track record of pitchers who have struggled initially in their return.
After sitting out 2010 because of the procedure, veteran closer Joe Nathan had a 5.92 ERA in the first half of 2011 before rebounding with a 3.91 ERA in the second half and compiling a 2.80 ERA and 37 saves for the Texas Rangers last season.
"I'm not going to be limited by anybody else's experiences," said Madson, whose surgery was performed by Lewis Yocum, the Angels' team physician. "I will take it upon myself to be ready and will do everything I can to be 100%."