Greg Maddux Rumors
Nearly three years have passed since I did an entry in the Boras Blast From The Past series, but Ryan Madson's surprising one-year, $8.5MM contract yesterday with the Reds got me thinking about whether agent Scott Boras had previously settled for a one-year contract for a top client in his prime coming off a strong season. Madson is clearly at the top of his game, as a durable 31-year-old reliever who posted a 2.37 ERA, 32 save season. So far I haven't found a similar situation with Boras, although the story of Greg Maddux accepting arbitration as a free agent in 2002 is an interesting one.
At age 36, Maddux hadn't won a Cy Young award in a while, but he was still very good. In 2002 the Professor posted a 2.62 ERA, second in the National League behind Randy Johnson. Teammate Tom Glavine, who is a few weeks older than Maddux, finished third in NL ERA and signed a three-year, $35MM deal with the Mets in early December 2002. Later that month, Maddux made the surprising decision to accept arbitration, the equivalent of a one-year deal for 2003.
According to Murray Chass of the New York Times, Boras explained the decision by saying, "At this point in time it was a choice of venue for him. He had multiple offers, but he really wanted to have another crack at it in Atlanta. He's confident he's going to be pitching for a long, long time and he's very durable, so working on a one-year contract won't bother him. He has some goals that he has not yet achieved in Atlanta that he wants to resolve." According to the AP, Boras said "many clubs at the ownership level were interested" in Maddux, adding, "At this point in time, at least for this year, they wanted to return to Atlanta and give it one more shot of winning there." Boras' choice of "they" rather than "we" leads me to believe the decision came more from the client than the agent. After all, Boras is known for pulling rabbits out of his hat in January (Madson notwithstanding).
Despite Boras' claims, it seems possible that Maddux's market was limited. The AP article said no other teams publicly talked about pursuing him. Part of the problem was the recent collective bargaining agreement, which added a 175% luxury tax on the portion of teams' payrolls over $117MM in 2003. According to SI's Tom Verducci in November of 2002, "Most teams are expected to treat the luxury-tax threshold as a de facto salary cap," and teams like the Yankees, Dodgers, Rangers, and Red Sox were anxious to avoid it. It also appears Boras came out of the gate aggressively for Maddux, seeking a five-year deal according to Verducci.
The Braves had already planned for life without Maddux and Glavine, having acquired Russ Ortiz and Mike Hampton and signed Paul Byrd. Maddux's decision to accept arbitration busted the Braves' budget, so the team immediately traded Kevin Millwood to the rival Phillies for Johnny Estrada. GM John Schuerholz said, "We had no choice but to move payroll." Seven years later, a similar situation occurred with the Braves when reliever Rafael Soriano accepted arbitration and had to be traded due to payroll constraints. Soriano did not become a Boras client until several months later.
Maddux seemed headed for a hearing to determine his 2003 salary, but a few days prior he split the difference between his and the team's arbitration submissions, agreeing to a $14.75MM salary. It was the largest one-year contract in baseball history. Though Maddux led the NL in walk rate in '03, he posted his highest ERA since 1987 in his final and most expensive season with the Braves.
The latest on the defending American League Champions...
- The Maddux move is official, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. His title will be special assistant to the GM.
- The Astros obtained permission to speak with Levine, according to Scott Miller of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
- Greg Maddux is leaving the Cubs and may soon accept a position with the Rangers, according to Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune. Maddux, who worked as a special assistant to Cubs GM Jim Hendry last season, would join his brother in Texas. Mike Maddux, the Rangers' pitching coach, interviewed for the Cubs' managerial opening before deciding to remain in Texas.
- Maddux will join the Rangers, according to Grant. He's expected to evaluate and help develop pitchers during the season.
- The Astros contacted the Rangers to obtain permission to interview assistant GM Thad Levine, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The Astros have already obtained permission to speak with Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, but it seems unlikely that Friedman will leave Tampa Bay.
Links for Monday...
- Press release: Greg Maddux has joined the Cubs as an assistant to GM Jim Hendry. He'll work with the coaching staffs as well as baseball operations. Click here for the official story.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports says the Diamondbacks' interest in Jose Valverde has cooled. The Tigers made an offer, the magnitude of which is unknown.
- Morosi says the Indians are not engaged in trade talks for Jhonny Peralta.
- ESPN's Keith Law praises the Reds for adding a pitcher with huge upside in Aroldis Chapman. He also points out that MLB's current draft setup "screws American-born players."
- David Coleman of The Crawfish Boxes says the Astros drew a line when they designated Julio Lugo for assignment in '03 following domestic violence charges, making their Brett Myers signing seem hypocritical.
- Free agent lefty Doug Davis is interested in joining the Nationals, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson, but Davis was told the Nats are more focused on adding a second baseman. Davis acknowledged, "Things are kind of going slow for me because I'm fifth or sixth down the line [when it comes to] starting pitching."
- Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times talks about the Mariners' need to sign Felix Hernandez long-term before the season begins.
- Grant Brisbee of McCovey Chronicles evaluates the Giants' Aubrey Huff signing.
- MLB.com's Doug Miller discusses new defensive stats with experts and team officials.
Some more links on a busy Saturday evening...
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman believes the trade deadline is "no longer even in existence" because teams can always use waivers to swap players in August: "Guys are going to get through because people are going to be afraid to claim and get stuck with money that they can’t afford," said the GM. "And so the July 31 trade deadline is more of a fictitious one now, anyway."
- According to MLB.com's Mark Sheldon, Reds manager Dusty Baker had a meeting with his players this week to discuss the looming trade deadline. "Dusty said... that if you continue to win, they can't remove pieces," noted trade candidate Bronson Arroyo.
- As Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune points out, using Rich Harden and Jason Marquis as prime examples, midseason trades don't always look as sweet a year later.
- According to the Associated Press, via ESPN.com, the Braves are interested in adding Greg Maddux as a spring training pitching instructor. Maddux worked in a similar capacity for the Padres last spring.
- For quick updates and a bit more discussion, follow MLBTR on Twitter. Hey, and while you're at it, go ahead and add your good buddy Drew Silva. I'll try not to let you down.
Some Odds & Ends to round out this Sunday morning's news:
- Right-hander Jason Bergmann, who has an option left, is not happy that the Nationals have sent him to Triple-A, says Pete McElroy of masnsports.com. In nine games, Bergmann didn't give up a run. He had 6 K and 2 BB in 11 1/3 innings.
- Not a rumor, but a headline of importance: Unsurprisingly, the Braves are going to retire Greg Maddux's number in July.
- Daniel Barbarisi of the Providence Journal praises the Red Sox shrewdness by improving their ballclub while reducing their payroll by $13MM, from fourth highest to sixth. Back-loaded extensions to key players could mean the Sox could add payroll if a marquee player becomes available this summer.
- Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star has a short but interesting article up noting that paying for a free agent pitcher does not usually work out. It would be interesting to actually see the numbers on this. Mellinger writes,
"The results are brutal: Thirty pitchers regressed after signing, and only 13 improved. Four contracts were close enough to be judged either way. That’s a fail ratio of 2:1."
Links for Monday...
- RotoAuthority discusses possible lineup position changes for star players.
- Baseball America has the latest minor league transactions.
- Greg Maddux has joined the Padres as a Spring Training instructor, says MLB.com's Corey Brock.
- Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News learned that Adrian Beltre enjoys hitting in AT&T Park and would be excited to play for the Giants. Baggarly wonders if the Giants could attempt to acquire Beltre this summer. The third baseman and Scott Boras client will be a free agent after the season.
- Shawn Estes, currently in camp with the Dodgers, will retire if he can't make a Major League roster according to Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times.
- A Mets official told Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News that the team is unlikely to sign free agent reliever Chad Cordero.
- Jake Peavy talked more about the failed attempts to trade him during the winter (Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune reporting).
- The Mariners added catcher Jason Phillips on a minor league deal, according to Larry LaRue of the Tacoma News Tribune.
Links for Tuesday...
- Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald describes a casino alert regarding potential inside information due to the Winter Meetings.
- ESPN's Keith Law isn't thrilled with the Tigers' acquisition of Gerald Laird.
- Michael S. Schmidt gives a peek at the Boras Book for Greg Maddux. One client for which exaggeration is unnecessary.
- Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker says the Seibu Lions will post 35 year-old lefty reliever Koji Mitsui. Another southpaw option to consider; he's not expected to cost much.
- Newman also says the Orioles may offer two-year, $10MM contracts to both Kenshin Kawakami and Koji Uehara.
- Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic says the D'Backs have had brief, preliminary talks on an extension for Chris Snyder and they'll resume soon.
Links for Saturday...
- Jason Michaels is confused by the lack of interest from the Pirates, who have said they want him back.
- Khalil Greene says he's frustrated to have let the Padres down and Tim Sullivan writes that it wasn't for lack of intensity. The Padres still won't be dropping their grievance against Greene.
- Buster Olney expects Mark Prior to sign a minor-league deal with the Padres.
- Jason Beck writes that the Tigers could afford to trade either Jeff Larish or Matt Joyce in a deal for Jack Wilson. Detroit has other weaknesses to address though, so Beck thinks they could hold onto their trade chips and sign a player like Adam Everett.
- Arbitration could work for both Jason Varitek and the Red Sox, suggests Sean McAdam.
- Tony Massarotti has five reasons to keep Justin Masterson in the bullpen.
- The Angels signed South Korean righty Pil Joon Jang to a minor league contract.
- Jay Jaffe plays Yankees GM at Baseball Prospectus.
- MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo ranks the best Rule 5 Draft selections since 1990.
- Tom Verducci looks back at the career Greg Maddux had.
The AP passes along a message from Scott Boras' office: Greg Maddux will announce his retirement Monday at the Winter Meetings. 5008.1 innings, 3.16 ERA, 355 wins.
The Dodgers' numerous arb decisions are in, courtesy of MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. Manny Ramirez, Derek Lowe, and Casey Blake get offers. Joe Beimel, Brad Penny, Jeff Kent, and Greg Maddux (all Type Bs) don't. The only real surprise here is Beimel, who earned less than $2MM this year and seemed worth the risk.