You might have noticed that nothing happened in the world of baseball the Monday after Christmas. The Chicago Cubs signed Andy Sonnanstine and Manny Corpas, but they signed them to split contracts. Also, they were Andy Sonnanstine and Manny Corpas. If we're being literal, things happened in the world of baseball. If we're not being literal, nothing happened in the world of baseball.
Some articles were published, though, and one of them was this piece on Scott Boras by Richard Justice. Given nothing better to do, I read that article and soon thereafter found myself digging through Boras' history. Out of curiosity more than anything. Curiosity and boredom. Did you know that Scott Boras was a minor-league baseball player? Did you know that Scott Boras has a degree in pharmacology? Did you know that Scott Boras came ever so close to never turning into the modern Scott Boras?
There's a lot of material there. Boras is a fascinating character with a fascinating background. There was one thing I read, though, that stood out more than anything else. And that was this piece by Joe Sexton in the New York Times on December 10, 1992.
Some background: following the 1992 regular season, Greg Maddux became a free agent. He was represented by Scott Boras. There had been negotiations between the Cubs and Boras during the year, but nothing ever materialized, allowing Maddux to hit the open market.
Maddux, of course, signed with the Atlanta Braves. He signed for five years and $28 million. He wouldn't leave Atlanta until 2004, when he returned to Chicago as a 38-year-old. What I didn't realize until today, however, was how close Maddux came to signing with the New York Yankees.
Maddux signed a five-year, $28 million contract with Atlanta, a deal that fell a staggering $6 million shy of the offer the Yankees had presented to Maddux. The final proposal to Maddux by Yankees even included a $9 million signing bonus.
The Yankees were chasing after a big-time pitching addition. They'd missed on David Cone. They'd missed on José Guzmán. They'd missed on Doug Drabek. They'd missed on Chris Bosio and Greg Swindell. They set their sights on Maddux, who was 26 and coming off a 2.18 ERA. They put on the full-court press, taking Maddux to shows, meals and residential neighborhoods.
The Yankees had Maddux and Boras' attention. They offered $30 million over five years. Then they offered $34 million over five years. Then they offered that same $34 million, only with $9 million up front as a signing bonus. But the Braves entered the picture late, and stole Maddux away with a smaller offer. How?
"Greg, above all, wanted to win," said his agent, Scott Boras. "The Braves offered him the most substantial degree of assurity of taking the World Series."
The Braves had been to the World Series in both 1991 and 1992. The Yankees had won 71 and 76 games in those years, respectively. Maddux wanted to win, so he gave up guaranteed money to join a proven winner.
It's interesting to look back on a time that a Boras client didn't go for the biggest contract he could get. Which isn't to say that every Boras client is just going for contract maximization, but Boras does have something of a reputation, now, and there's the added factor that the Yankees' offer would've been the most lucrative deal ever signed by a pitcher. Maddux turned it down.
It's interesting to look back on a time that a free agent turned the Yankees down because he wanted to win. We remember that the Yankees had some lean years, but it's an easy period to forget about, and turning the Yankees down for that reason would sound silly now. Incidentally, Maddux would win with the Braves, but 1993 was the year the Yankees returned to being competitive. The Braves won the Series in 1995; the Yankees won the Series in 1996.
It's interesting to look back on a time that this sentence was written:
He ranks second in triumphs in all of baseball in that time, trailing only.
And it's interesting to look back on how different the 90s might have been had Maddux been swayed by money, or had the Braves not gotten involved. The Yankees would've been awesome either way, of course, but we remember Greg Maddux, Atlanta Brave. Maddux as a Brave was one of the players who defined the whole decade, and there's no telling how different the memories might be had Maddux worn pinstripes. We sure as hell wouldn't have had this:
Can you even imagine?