Best staff gets better as Braves sign Maddux

December 10, 1992|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- National League Cy Young Award winne Greg Maddux became the richest pitcher in baseball history last night when he signed a five-year, $28 million contract with the defending NL champion Atlanta Braves.

The contract was a surprise, but only because it was for far less than had been expected and because it came from a pitching-rich team.

"It goes without saying that an organization like ours -- which for years has demonstrated its appreciation of great pitching -- has made an extra effort to add a pitcher of this caliber to an already formidable starting rotation," Braves general manager John Schuerholz said.

The deal brings together the two winningest pitchers in the National League. Maddux joins Tom Glavine, who has won 20 games each of the last two seasons, winning the NL Cy Young in '91 and finishing second to Maddux this year. Then there's playoff MVP John Smoltz and hard-throwing left-hander Steve Avery.

If there was any doubt that the Braves would again be the favorite in the National League West after two straight pennants, it disappeared last night when Schuerholz and agent Scott Boras appeared at the winter meetings media center.

The contract calls for Maddux to receive a $2.5 million signing bonus and a salary of $5 million for 1993.

His salary drops to $3.5 million in anticipation of possible labor strife the following year before jumping back to $5 million for 1995 and $6 million the last two years.

The figures were not significantly higher than those Maddux turned down when the Chicago Cubs offered him a contract extension in July.

The New York Yankees had offered a reported $34 million to add Maddux to their rotation, but Boras said his client was more interested in the chance to reach the World Series than the opportunity to put away money for his great-great-great grandchildren.

"Why did we turn down [the Cubs]?" Boras said. "What was our mind-set? I think the Atlanta Braves were the reason. Greg wanted to have the chance to play for the world championship. The money was secondary to him achieving his true standing in baseball by competing in a World Series. That's how important winning is to Greg Maddux -- a difference of $5 million or $6 million."

The Braves may have assembled the game's best rotation, but they had to make room for a major salary. Minutes after the Maddux deal, Schuerholz returned to the podium to announce )) that he had traded veteran starter Charlie Leibrandt and a prospect to the Texas Rangers for third-base prospect Jose Oliva.

Schuerholz hinted at the coming deal while he was explaining how the Braves could justify a late-inning run at Maddux. "Over the course of time, we felt we could do something with our roster to accommodate the contract," he said.

Of course, the signing may boost the price of a contract extension for Glavine, but Schuerholz did not seem concerned. There is a four-year offer already on the table.

"We've shown we're willing to reward quality, maintain quality and acquire quality," he said.

Maddux's stats

?3

Career stats (all with Cubs) for Greg Maddux:

Year .. IP .. .. W-L .. SO .. .. .. ERA

1986 .. 31.0 .. 2-4 .. 20 .. .. .. 5.52

1987 .. 155.2 ..6-14 .. 101 .. .. ..5.61

1988 .. 249.0 ..18-8 .. 140 .. .. ..3.18

1989 .. 238.1 ..19-12 ..135 .. .. ..2.95

.. 237.0 ..15-15 ..144 .. .. ..3.46

.. 263.0 ..15-11 ..198 .. .. ..3.35

.. 268.0 ..20-11 ..199 .. .. ..2.18

Tot. .. 1442.0 ..95-75 ..937 .. .. 3.35

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