This day in 2006, the Padres signed free agent and eventual first-ballot Hall of Famer Greg Maddux to a one-year, $10 million contract with an escalating player option for a second season. Maddux was coming off his twenty-first major league season and still in demand. He wasn't the Maddux of old, but about a dozen clubs were interested in his services. Wanting to stay close to his Vegas home, he narrowed his choices down to San Diego and a return to Los Angeles, where he had spent the last two months of the '06 season following a deadline deal.
As Bernie Wilson reported at the time, the Padres put forth more effort and a deal was in place by the time the winter meetings wrapped. That article also included a fascinating piece of information that was news to me.
"Last year I felt as good as I've ever felt," said Maddux, who pulled on a No. 37 jersey. "I do like the game, I do like the competition, I do like wearing a major league shirt. I like the atmosphere, I like everything about it. I'm not ready to give it up."
Not the part about him feeling good or not wanting to quit; that's in the transcript of every press conference. What I found interesting was that he was initially given number 37. Of course he couldn't be issued the 31 he'd worn in Chicago and Atlanta since it's retired for Dave Winfield, but Maddux never ended up wearing 37 for the Padres, going with 30 instead. I guess they didn't give him 30 right off the jump since Ryan Klesko hadn't signed with San Francisco yet, but I wonder why he or they went with 37 and why he switched.
Once he did put on the number 30 jersey, Maddux did everything the Padres expected of him. New manager Bud Black slotted him fourth in the rotation behind Jake Peavy, Chris Young, and Clay Hensley, and ahead of fellow quadragenarian David Wells. Hensley faltered and lost his rotation spot after the season's first month, and Wells pitched himself out of a job by August; All-Star Game Final Vote winner Chris Young missed a few starts in late July and early August, leaving Maddux tied with that year's Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy for the team lead with 34 starts. Those 34 starts matched both the 34 he started in 2006 and his career average. On the surface, his 14-11 record and 4.14 ERA were improvements on the 15-14 and 4.20 he posted in 2006, but when you account for park factors and other variables, a slight decline is evident. Slight decline being slight, the Padres were eager to welcome him back for round two.
Maddux's second-year option started at a base of $6 million with a mil here and a mil there tacked on for hitting various innings marks. The final innings milestone Maddux had to hit for an increase was 200, which would bump his option up to $10 million. He ended up pitching 198 innings in 2007, but coming up two innings short ended up being close enough when he and the team agreed on a second one-year, $10 million contract on November 18, 2007. But I'm getting ahead of myself... or behind myself; I guess I could have written about that one 25 days ago.