Philadelphia Inquirer - April 7, 1980
Maddox all but an ex-Phillie, as negotiations near standstill
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
CLEARWATER, Fla. – When Paul Owens first announced he was trying to trade Garry Maddox, a lot of people said, “Yeah, sure. And Paris will give away the Eiffel Tower, too.”
But a month later, it is beginning to look as if maybe Paul Owens wasn’t just blowing smoke.
For one, Maddox’ latest contract talks have gone practically nowhere. Two, Maddox’ self-imposed date for cutting off those talks is only four days away. And three, now even Maddox is convinced it is only a matter of when the Phillies will deal him, not if.
“I think as soon as the right deal comes along I’ll be gone,” Maddox said after yesterday’s Phillies workout. “A case of when, not if? Yeah, I think it is.”
The brief flurry of new hope that surfaced a couple of weeks ago is gone. The Phillies had upped their offer. Maddox had come down. But that was as far as it went.
They were still a solar system apart. And the Grand Canyon has a better chance of moving in the next few days than Maddox or the Phillies do in their respective positions.
Something drastic will have to happen this week. And Owens said yesterday that if it doesn’t, Ruly Carpenter will “turn me loose’ to seriously start trade discussions.
“Once we reopened negotiations, we wanted to give them (Maddox and agent Jerry Kapstein) another chance,” Owens said. “But Ruly and I feel we’re at another final stalemate. I think once we’re convinced of that, Ruly will turn me loose.
“He won’t today. But within the next couple or three days, we might be as that final point. As soon as we decide together we are at an impasse and we can’t see any future, then I’ll go to work, so to speak.”
Owens already has laid some groundwork with several teams, but he said he doesn’t have “anything concrete” from anybody at the moment.
“But I’m sure I could rev it up pretty soon,” he said, “if I made a few calls.”
Owens has denied reports he is trying to obtain the Reds’ Ken Griffey. But a trade for somebody such as Griffey would free him to deal away Maddox. And Owens says he can do that to any team in either league, since he has major league waivers on Maddox until May 8.
“I’m not saying it’s inevitable,” Owens said. “I may keep him all year. But if they don’t come down, there’s no way we’re going to sign him.
“There’s nothing to say we can’t keep him all year. I have to weigh what we get. He won’t have as much value this year because he could go to free agency. I’m not going to give him away.
Sources in the Phillies organization say Maddox is seeking even more money than Pete Rose. Maddox says he is asking for less than Rose’s $810,000 a year.
But Owens says that even at his year’s salary, Maddox is “the highest-paid centerfielder in baseball. And he would continue to be if he took what we’re offering. I don’t know how much further we could come.”
The Phillies’ strategy seems to hinge on Maddox deciding he wants to remain in Philadelphia so much that he will cave in and take their offer. But Owens is pessimistic that that will happen.
“Players have done that in the past. But then we were speaking about a $40,000 or $50,000 difference,” Owens said, “not the difference we’re apart.”
Needless to say, all this trade and contract brouhaha has not made Maddox’ spring a routine, business-like six weeks in the sun.
“It’s been difficult,” the centerfielder admitted, “particularly because I keep hearing that I’m going to a different team almost every day.
“There’s a difference between just hearing trade rumors and this. Everybody hears their name come up now and then. We can all live with that. But when a team tells you they’re trying to trade for you and then you hear your name come up, it puts it in a different light.”
Maddox said he has tried to ignore the off-the-field tornado and just concentrate on readying himself for the season. But he spends a lot of time, he says, thinking about the places he might end up and whether he would want to stay there.
“The hardest thing,” he said, “is knowing that probably you are going to have to go to another ball club, and that means being away from your family. You’d always be somewhere else than where they are. It would be like being on the road all season. That’s probably my main concern.”
As things stand now, he will be the Phillies’ centerfielder when they start the season Friday night. But for how long? He is curious how fans will react to him, hopeful they will understand.
“I haven’t had any kind of feel for how the fans are going to react,” Maddox said. “But I hope people recognize that the Phillies say the negotiations have been done in good faith from us, and I say the same thing about how they’ve negotiated.
“Also, they say I’m worth what I’m asking for, but it’s just their policy not to match what the current market pays. Well, that’s their opinion. But I’m entitled to mine.”
He will surely see the dollar signs swirling all year if he stays. But Maddox hopes to block them out as much as possible by saying, “There will be no negotiations during the season.”
But Owens says he feels no pressure to sign him by Friday.
“They said they weren’t going to negotiate before, too, didn’t they?” Owens said. “But they have.
“If they don’t want to negotiate, that’s fine. I’ve got waivers on him. I can do anything I want. It’s up to them. We’d like to keep him, but not at these figures.”
Randy Lerch, who has complained lately of a slightly stiff shoulder, will test it today in the Phillies’ last “simulated game” of the spring. “He says it’s stiff, but I don’t see where it’s affected him at all,” Dallas Green said. “I don’t get nervous about sore arms until I get to the point where I see a deterioration of stuff. Randy didn’t indicate that all spring, so that’s why I’m not worried.”
Sports in Brief: Baseball
CLEARWATER, Fla. – Jim Wright, the promising Phillies star who broke his arm throwing a pitch in spring training last year, looked impressive yesterday as he pitched two-hit, shut-out ball through six innings for Oklahoma City in a 3-2 victory over a group of Phillies minor leaguers. It was by far the longest outing of the year for Wright, who could figure in the Phillie pitching picture within a couple of months. Phillies general manager Paul Owens was impressed, telling Wright after the game: “It’s just (a matter of) innings now. Go down (to Oklahoma City) and pitch, and all of a sudden it’ll be back where it was before.”