Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes of Monday indications that a multiyear contract for Pirates starter Paul Maholm "is becoming more realistic by the day." The Pirates have a February 10th hearing scheduled with Maholm, with the two sides facing a $1.15MM gap over the salary for his first arbitration year. It's been said the Bucs would like to sign Maholm for at least four years, which would buy out one year of free agency. Using Ian Snell's contract as a model, perhaps Maholm would get $24MM or so for those four years. Snell's deal, signed in March of '08, has the team-friendly element of two club options though.
Kovacevic does the math and finds the Pirates have roughly $4MM to spend to bring in additional players this year, maybe a few million more depending on where Maholm and Nate McLouth's salaries land. Two free agent starters known to be on the radar are Braden Looper and Pedro Martinez.
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