ATLANTA — In addition to his four Cy Young Awards, Greg Maddux can now call himself baseball's highest-paid player.
He signed a five-year contract extension with the Atlanta Braves that will pay him $57.5 million.
"I love playing here," he said Sunday. "It's been a great five years and I look forward to the next five."
Maddux's agent, Scott Boras, said the deal included a signing bonus and no deferred money. The package averages $11.5 million a year and is guaranteed.
The 31-year-old right-hander leapfrogs past Barry Bonds of San Francisco and Albert Belle of Cleveland in the salary game. Bonds will earn an average of $11.45 million a year, beginning in 1999, and Belle makes $11 million.
Maddux is in the final season of a $28-million, five-year contract that pays him $6.5 million this season.
"They made me a nice deal," said Maddux, who has 121 victories since 1991, the most in the majors. "I'd be a fool not to take it. Sometimes the grass isn't greener on the other side. Nobody likes to lose and the Braves have a history of doing what it takes to win."
Maddux said the negotiations turned serious the past week, and were quickly resolved.
"A number was given," he said. "That number was reached and that was it. There was no bickering back and forth. There was no talking to the press every day. I'd gone through that my last year in Chicago and that was something I wanted to avoid."
The signing was announced Sunday at a Turner Field news conference before the Braves played the Florida Marlins.
"We can't tell you how delighted we are that we have been able to get this accomplished," Atlanta General Manager John Schuerholz said. "It's a great day for [Brave] fans and the organization."
Maddux, 15-3 with a 2.36 earned-run average, is scheduled to start tonight against the Marlins. He's 180-107 in his 11th full season in the majors, 85-32 in his fifth season with the Braves.
The six-time All-Star supplanted teammate Tom Glavine as the top-paid pitcher in baseball. Glavine signed a four-year, $34-million contract in May.
John Smoltz and Denny Neagle also have high-priced long-term deals with the Braves--Smoltz a four-year, $31-million contract and Neagle a three-year, $17.5-million extension that begins in 1998.
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Top five baseball contracts:
Player Club Years Avg. Salary Greg Maddux Atlanta 1998-02 $11,500,000 Barry Bonds San Francisco 1999-00 $11,450,000 Albert Belle White Sox 1997-01 $11,000,000 Sammy Sosa Cubs 1998-01 $10,625,000 Gary Sheffield Florida 1998-03 $10,166,667