The Implications of the Giants Pursuing Maddux

Analysis of the Giants' continuing interest in Maddux as reported in the S.F. Chronicle by Hank Schulman.

Hank Schulman of the S.F. Chronicle has reported that his sources says the Giants have been negotiating with Greg Maddux all off-season and are still among the finalists for his services. Maddux has been reported to be close to a decision, perhaps as early as President's Day 3-day weekend. But in other outlets it has been reported that it could still be another week or two or three as Maddux feels that spring training is about two weeks too long anyway so he's not in a hurry to decide. He says that he's a veteran and that he knows how to get ready for a season after 20 years as a pro. Showing how serious the talks are, the negotiation has advanced enough so that Peter Magowan has gotten more involved.

Where's the Money?

The Giants management have been quoted as saying that they are at their budget now, no room for anything else, let alone a superstar like Maddux. And yet they've apparently have been in negotiations with Maddux all off-season, and apparently have earmarked money to get him. Or, perhaps, as I had suggested for getting Vlad, have "outside of budget" money that they're willing to spend to get Maddux, like what the Marlins did last year with I-Rod, but are not willing to part with to get marginal players.

Then again, they went over their budget last year too and was ready to deal players to clear payroll until they were able to free up $2M via deferment from Rueter in spring training. Perhaps Maddux will do a "Jeff Kent" and defer to kingdom come in order to be with the team that he "wants"? But that would mean Maddux is only getting $1M or so this year with the rest deferred. I don't see him being that hard up to pitch for the Giants to accept anything like that when other teams appear to be willing to pony up money for him. It's not like he grew up here, went to school here, or was drafted by the Giants. I'm not even aware of any good friends being here.

Giants Offer

The only offer mentioned in the press so far is the Cubs. The Chicago media has reported it to be at 2 years at $10-12M while Schulman said that at least $12M was offered and that his source said that the Giants "have a ways to go" to match what other teams have offered. He reported that what the Giants are hoping are that their pitcher friendly park plus consistency in competing for the playoffs will be intangibles that will draw Maddux to sign with the Giants.

So that means the Giants are offering at best $4-5M per year. But they must be talking more years, maybe 3 years at $12-15M, as that's the only way I see the Giants being able to stay in contention for Maddux's services while they have a ways to go in terms of money. I don't see the park as a big factor though I can see being competitive as a big plus, especially since the Dodgers and Cubs have not been consistently winning lately, though seem on the brink of it. And to do this deal, there is probably deferred money involved and some backloading in order to make the deal work for the Giants, who are tight on budget this year, but are progressively freer to spend the seasons after that.

Giants Leap of Faith

Assuming this is what the Giants are offering, I can see signing Maddux as a good risk to take on. Except for two years of 25 and 28, he has started at least 30 games each season and only had one of those, with the rest at 33 games or more. He's turning 38 for the season so a three year contract would cover him from ages 38 to 40. Plus he's not a pitcher relying on his heater to get batters out, he'll be using the same finesse that has gotten him a likely first vote induction into the Hall of Fame.

Giants Implications

A big implication is that signing Maddux would mean that the Giants have six starters and five of them look set: Maddux, Schmidt, Rueter, Williams, and Tomko. Hermanson and Correia would then be pushed aside, assuming Tomko beats out the two of them for the #5 starter position, with Correia going to AAA to get some more seasoning (which is probably for the best long term) and Hermanson probably going into the bullpen and taking Zerbe's spot there. While obviously Maddux would be an upgrade, Hermanson has been terrible as a reliever whereas Zerbe has been very useful.

However, Dustin is valuable in a number of ways. One is that Schmidt might not make opening day and Dustin would be needed to fill in there. Second is that this is Williams sophomore year and, while I wholeheartedly think that he's the real deal, if he has any hiccups in his development, Hermanson can take over while Jerome figures it out in another season at AAA. Third is that while I think Rueter is fine physically, he did have his first major injury as a Giant and thus has a small question mark on him despite pitching his normal self in September.

The Giants starting pitching would look unbeatable if they were to get Maddux. Probably have Maddux be the ace: thought Schmidt is on the rise and had a much better year last year, having Maddux as the ace and Schmidt 2nd would separate Maddux and Rueter, two similar finesse pitchers. Then they can leave Tomko as a capable #4 starter. That would leave Williams as our #5 where he should outclass most other teams' #5 and win most games.

Schulman's article also noted that one benefit is that Maddux would become essentially an on the field coach and help develop our young pitchers, such as Jerome Williams, Jesse Foppert, Kevin Correia and Merkin Valdez. I agree that Maddux will not only help all those young pitchers, but probably could help Schmidt and Rueter as well. Maddux is well known for being competitive to the bone so, while he probably don't give out advice to players not on his team, he probably gives 'til it hurts with his teammates. Especially since this is probably his last contract and last chance to win another ring.

Lastly, I fear that having Maddux, Schmidt, and Rueter as the core starters for the next couple of years holding the top 3 spots and Correia, Foppert, Lowry, Valdez, Matt Cain, David Aardsma, and Roger Whitaker in the wings, that the Giants might package Jerome Williams in a deal to get a big bat heir apparent to Bonds. But I guess we'll cross that bridge if it comes, for now we'll see if we even get Maddux.

Martin Lee writes 'A Biased Giant's Fanatic's View' for when the mood and muse strikes him. He wants to teach and share his love of baseball and, in particular, his love for the San Francisco Giants. He will believe to his dying days that Bobby Bonds was robbed of being the first 40-40 player and should be in Cooperstown. Please feel free to e-mail him at (remove the "nospam." if you wish to e-mail me) if you have a question or comment.

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