A 26-year-old Greg Maddux, fresh off winning a Cy Young award with the Chicago Cubs, was on the verge of signing with the New York Yankees in 1992. Can you believe what could have happened with him on the mound for several years? That’s the story, as told by himself.
Maddux said, in David Cone’s Toeing the Slab podcast, that he even travelled to New York and had dinner with the Yankees’ brass.
“I went there to sign with the Yankees,” Maddux told Cone, Justin Shackil and James Smyth, per SI.com. “I was shocked I didn’t get offered a contract. It’s not college. I didn’t go there just for a recruiting trip. You kind of go there to sign a contract and everything.”
After the meeting, Maddux said the Yankees told him they would be in touch. But an offer never came, and by the time he landed back home, his agent Scott Boras had an offer from the Atlanta Braves: five years and $28 million. New York turned to Jimmy Key.
The Yankees didn’t make an offer, but why?
So what happened in the way that New York was so passive with a guy who had just posted a 2.18 ERA in 268 innings, winning the first of his four consecutive Cy Young awards? The pitcher himself can explain it better than us:
“I don’t know who it was,” Maddux said, “but one of the guys had a heart attack, and that’s why I wasn’t made an offer.”
Maddux is one of the very best pitchers in the history of the game, a Hall of Famer with multiple Cy Young and ERA titles. He also helped the Braves win the 1995 World Series.
When Maddux visited the Yankees, owner George Steinbrenner was suspended. Gene Michael was the manager and Joe Molloy was the managing general partner.
A story from the New York Daily News in 2014 says that the Yankees offered a five-year, $37.5 million offer to Maddux, but he allegedly told Michael in 1992 that “money won’t necessarily decide this. The fact was, I wanted to stay in the National League and I wanted to go with a team that had a chance to win.”