THE NEWBERG REPORT — NOVEMBER 18, 2007
The Rangers announced this morning that they have agreed to terms with minor league free agent righthander Warner Madrigal, adding him to the 40-man roster. Very interesting pickup.
The Angels signed the 23-year-old as an outfielder out of the Dominican Republic in 2001, and in his first stateside season (2003), he led the Pioneer League in slugging, hits, extra-base hits, doubles, and runs, putting together a .369/.394/.581 line and leading Baseball America associate editor Josh Boyd — who is currently the Rangers’ manager of professional scouting — to rank him as the Angels’ number 16 prospect going into the 2004 season, at age 19.
Madrigal never matched those numbers thereafter (Los Angeles actually released him in November 2005 before re-signing him for the 2006 season), but in 2004, 2005, and 2006, BA voted his arm to be the best among outfielders in the Angels farm system, which helps explain why the club decided in 2006, when Madrigal was in his third straight Low A season, to move him in from right field and onto the mound.
Sent back to extended spring training and then to the Arizona League for the experiment, Madrigal gave up five runs (3.75 ERA) on 11 hits (.250 opponents’ average) and three walks in 12 innings, fanning 13. A fastball-slider pitcher, he worked at 92-95 and touched 98 in his role as a closer. The Angels took the bat away for good from the player once described as an Albert Belle starter kit.
In 2007, Madrigal — after throwing 2.1 scoreless innings for the Angels in spring training — returned to Cedar Rapids for a fourth straight year, and the results were eye-opening, particularly in the second half, when he saved 18 games in 18 chances, posting a 3-1, 0.57 record with these phenomenal numbers: 13 hits (.129 opponents’ average, no home runs) and six walks in 31.1 innings, 44 punchouts, 10 inherited runners, all stranded.
For the season, the stocky 6’0", 200-pounder went 5-4, 2.07 with 20 saves, holding the Midwest League to a .202/.280/.284 line, fanning 75 and walking 23 in 61 frames, and coaxing 1.6 as many groundouts as flyouts.
Currently pitching in the Dominican Winter League, Madrigal has appeared six times for Escogido and hasn’t allowed an earned run, giving up an unearned run (plus permitting five of eight inherited runners to score) on five hits and a walk in 3.2 innings, with five strikeouts.
What I don’t understand is that the Angels have a November 6 press release on their official website noting that they had added Madrigal to their 40-man roster on that date, which of course would have nullified his free agency and made him unavailable to sign elsewhere. I suppose we’ll get some clarification on that soon enough.
The Madrigal signing brings the Rangers’ 40-man roster to 37 players, which probably endangers the chances that outfielder Brandon Boggs gets protected on the roster by Tuesday’s deadline.
Here’s another reason you should feel good about the people in charge of running baseball operations for your team:
10-23-07 Baltimore purchases RHP Fredy Deza from minor leagues, adds him to 40-man roster
10-23-07 Washington purchases OF Roger Bernadina from minor leagues, adds him to 40-man roster
10-26-07 St. Louis purchases OF Joe Mather from minor leagues, adds him to 40-man roster
Why did the Orioles, Nationals, and Cardinals add Deza, Bernadina, and Mather to the roster so early? You probably know that teams generally don’t need to add minor leaguers to the roster for purposes of protection from the Rule 5 Draft until November 20 each year. But in the case of potential six-year minor league free agents – which Deza, Bernadina, and Mather each were – they become free agents at the conclusion of the World Series, and so they have to be added to the roster before that time in order for their team to continue to control them. You may not have known that.
The Angels apparently didn’t.
Warner Madrigal, having been signed in 2001, became a six-year minor league free agent when the Red Sox dispatched of the Rockies on October 28.
So when the Angels sent out a November 6 press release, and surely a memo to the league office on the same day, announcing that they had added their potential future closer to the 40-man roster to ensure that they wouldn’t lose him in next month’s Rule 5 Draft, it was essentially a nullity, as Madrigal was no longer Angels property, and hadn’t been for nine days.
I don’t know how many teams got busy the minute they saw that Madrigal became a free agent three weeks ago, or how many made a vigorous, opportunistic effort to sign him after that, but your team did, and now there’s a serious relief prospect in the fold, with all his options left, at virtually no cost.
I wouldn’t be very happy about this if I were an Angels fan.