Dodgers Sign Paul Maholm

MONDAY: Maholm's contract enables the longtime starter (he has just one career MLB relief appearance) to earn his potential $5MM in incentives whether pitching from the rotation or the pen,'s Ken Gurnick reports. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has indicated that Maholm may not make the rotation to start the year if Josh Beckett proves ready and able to take the fifth slot. 

The incentive clause sets out an interesting point system. Maholm will earn two points for each game started, 1.5 points for a relief appearance of two or more innings, and one point for an appearance of less than two innings. The full $5MM is earned upon reaching 60 total points. While the complete alignment of points and cash along the rest of the scale remains unreported, Gurnick adds that Maholm's 26-start tally from a year ago (52 points) would land him $3.5MM under his new deal.

SATURDAY: Though they didn't land Masahiro Tanaka, the Dodgers did add some depth to their rotation on Saturday, as they announced the signing of lefty Paul Maholm to a one-year deal. Maholm, a client of agent Bo McKinnis, reportedly receives a $1.5MM base salary and can earn up to $6.5MM via incentives.


The framework for an agreement appeared to be in place this morning, when Hernandez reported that the starter had a locker prepared and was present in the Dodgers clubhouse, apparently to take a physical. However, confirmation wasn't available until now.

Maholm's eventual contract comes in significantly smaller than the one-year, $7MM deal that he was predicted to receive by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes. While Maholm wasn't in the top tier of this winter's free agent starters, it comes as a surprise that the Dodgers were able to sign him for just a $1.5MM guarantee in an offseason in which Jason Vargas, a fellow 31-year-old lefty, received a four-year, $32MM contract. Vargas has the better track record of durability and has spent most of his career in the AL, so he likely has the edge. However, they've posted strikingly similar results for their careers: Maholm checks in with a lifetime ERA of 4.28, while Vargas' mark is 4.30. Maholm has struck out 5.8 batters per nine innings and walked 2.9 per nine for his career, compared with Vargas' rates of 5.9 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. In addition, Maholm was good for 153 innings in 2013, while Vargas managed 150 frames.

In effect, the Dodgers have swapped in Maholm for Chris Capuano, with whom they cut ties early this offseason via a $1MM buyout. Capuano is one of the few back-end types still available now that Maholm is off the market. Among top-tier pitchers, of course, both Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez remain on the board.

Maholm figures to give the Dodgers an option for the fifth slot in their rotation behind Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-jin Ryu and Dan Haren. Josh Beckett will also be in the mix for that spot, though he's had health issues for the past two seasons. Chad Billingsley could challenge for that slot as well, but he won't be healthy until the summer as he rehabs from 2013 Tommy John surgery. Maholm is open to the idea of pitching out of the bullpen in the event that Beckett is healthy, manager Don Mattingly told reporters (via Gurnick on Twitter).

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times first reported the signing, and Jim Bowden of ESPN was the first to tweet the $1.5MM base salary. Ken Gurnick of was the first to report that the deal contained incentives (via Twitter), and Hernandez added (also on Twitter) that Maholm's salary could top out at $6.5MM.

Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

98 Responses to Dodgers Sign Paul Maholm Leave a Reply

  1. Puig Power 1 year ago

    I wonder why he took such a paycut. Great signing … now who leaves the 40?

    • silverwidow 1 year ago

      Scott Elbert was put on the 60-day DL

      • tim815 1 year ago

        I thought the 60 Day DL went into play after spring training began. I guess not?

    • Anthony Hughes 1 year ago

      Elbert 60-day DL. Although I’d be fine with letting Sellers go.

      • thegrayrace 1 year ago

        Given the lack of infield depth, I don’t see that happening. Much more likely the Dodgers cut ties with Javy Guerra, if not Josh Beckett.

        • Anthony Hughes 1 year ago

          I think Guerra has a much better chance to be a decent big league reliever than Sellers has to do anything. Why? At least we’ve seen Guerra do it before. And he’s not that old. Sellers not only has looked horrible as a hitter at the big league level, but he was never thought of much as a minor leaguer. He’s a warm body and nothing more.

          • thegrayrace 1 year ago

            Sellers is a warm body that can play three defensive positions where the Dodgers lack warm bodies. The Dodgers have way, way more depth when it comes to bullpen arms. Guerra is probably down to 15th on that depth chart, not only behind the seven guys likely to make the roster (Jansen, Wilson, Perez, Wright, League, Howell, Rodriguez), but also behind Chris Withrow, Onelki Garcia, Yimi Garcia, Jose Dominguez, Seth Rosin, Scott Elbert and Matt Magill. Not to mention guys like Billingsley and Beckett will probably see some work out of the bullpen this season.

            Pretty much all the guys on the list above have more upside than Guerra. He had a surprisingly nice stretch in 2011-2012, but his career numbers throughout the minor leagues suggested it wasn’t going to be sustainable. He has a career WHIP of 1.557 and 1.76 SO/BB. Nothing special. And he’s 28, not exactly young.

          • Anthony Hughes 1 year ago

            I agree with you as far as Guerra’s standing with the club right now, but I’m just saying, he has a better shot to actually contribute to a big league club than Sellers. Sellers is god awful. Seriously. He CAN play different infield positions…great. It doesn’t mean he’s good. He’s really bad. I don’t need to see more of him.

    • Fjaschler 1 year ago

      Probably to do with how bad his second half was, had several great starts to begin the season then just fell off a cliff, continued past ground level into a pit full of snakes. It’s also most likely due to him being a soft tosser while comparable pitchers with better stuff get more. Stuff itself seems to cause some differences in payscale for comparable pitchers.

  2. Anthony Hughes 1 year ago

    Wow, this is just incredible value. Fantastic move by the Dodgers here.

    • antonio montana 1 year ago

      And mental retardation by the rest of mlb, unbelievable

  3. Jared 1 year ago

    This is a major steal/coup for the Dodgers, unless, of course, MLB GMs know something I don’t know.

    • Anthony Hughes 1 year ago

      And if he hits all the incentives, great, because that will mean he pitched pretty well.

  4. MD 1 year ago

    How the hell did they pull this one off?

    • daren hill 1 year ago

      He can get up to $6m in incentives, so it sounds like a deal with a bit of upside for Maholm to prove his health and re-establish his value next year. Makes the Arroyo deal in AZ look even more ridiculous, doesn’t it?

  5. Seth Guttman 1 year ago

    and Phil Hughes got 3 years/$24M *shrug*

  6. Adrian Garcia 1 year ago

    Somehow, Ned has become a pretty good GM, nice offseason for the Dodgers

    • thegrayrace 1 year ago

      I have to imagine there is a fair amount of oversight of his moves by Kasten. Aside from Brandon League, there hasn’t really been a bad signing since the ownership change.

      • Adrian Garcia 1 year ago

        Still though, there´s a pretty prevalent, unfair thought that Kasten alone is responsible for all of the good front office decision making. It´s almost as if every good move was solely because of Kasten, and every bad deal (Brandon League) was simply because Ned was being dumb

        • thegrayrace 1 year ago

          I agree with that, but I also can’t entirely forget Ned’s history under McCourt (Andruw Jones, Juan Pierre, Jason Schmidt, Carlos Santana trade, the tendency to deal our better trade chips for mediocre relievers). Without insider knowledge it is difficult to evaluate whether Ned is getting better on his own, or whether it is simply Kasten’s influence.

    • BlueSkyLA
      BlueSkyLA 1 year ago

      The financial situation had changed juuuust a tad. Colletti is no longer having to scrape around the edges for players, trade good prospects, and backload contracts. Makes a difference.

  7. Jared 1 year ago

    Jason Vargas at 4 years, $32 million looks like a clear overpay (not that it didn’t before the Maholm news broke)…

    • Anthony Hughes 1 year ago

      The Dodgers are doing it right. Overpay for the big-time talents, and wait for bargains for the non-elite.

    • LazerTown 1 year ago

      It was a terrible deal before, even worse that it was a team like the Royals. Small market teams can’t afford $8M aav backend starters.

  8. Jared 1 year ago

    The Dodgers *MUST* have brought in Pat Riley to convince Maholm to sign at the $1.5MM base.

  9. AceRuby 1 year ago

    Man how many starters do the Dodgers have now? Not that you can never have enough pitching but they sure seem to have a lot of it now.

    • Anthony Hughes 1 year ago

      Well their rotation now looks like Kershaw/Greinke/Ryu/Haren/Maholm. Beckett had a major surgery and they simply don’t know what, if anything, they will get from him. Billingsley is recovering from Tommy John surgery and if all goes well, he still wouldn’t be ready until June, and who knows what he’ll look like even if he’s healthy. After that, it’s kids like Lee and Stripling who are unproven. They also have Fife, but he probably overachieved last season in spot duty.

      • AceRuby 1 year ago

        Interesting I guess they do have some injuries I didn’t know about then , thanks.

  10. North 1 year ago

    Damn good deal for Uncle Ned. It gives them depth at the cost of a few nickels. In an offseason where Bronson Arroyo goes for 23.5 M guaranteed and Maholm goes for 1.5 M, I will never comprehend some of these GM’s thoughts. Ever.

    • Anthony Hughes 1 year ago

      If Maholm pitches 150 innings he’ll probably pocket more like $5-6MM, but hey, fine with me. I’m sure a lot of his incentives are easily reachable.

      • North 1 year ago

        And he’ll deserve that. The guaranteed portion, even if his arm falls off, is 1.5 M. If Arroyo’s arm falls off, the DBacks pay 23.5 M. Good signing especially given the injury concerns of that staff.

  11. Mark Tabello 1 year ago

    For $1.5 million that is a bargain. That is less than the cost of a bullpen arm. If everyone is healthy this can be a very tradable asset come July especially with under $750 K left on his deal by then. I wasn’t thilled when I heard this but this is a steal considering he figured to have got $5-$7 million

  12. D.j. Wilson 1 year ago

    They are just never satisfied with their rotation depth! Dodgers pitching staff as a whole looks great…

  13. bobbybaseball 1 year ago

    What a great value…that’s less than many LH relievers sign for!

  14. Jeffy25 1 year ago

    He and his periphs were pretty rough last year

    But surely he could have gotten a better deal.

    And why do the dodgers need him? Don’t they have too many starters?

    • Vail Beach 1 year ago

      No. That was last year. This year they have 4, but that includes Dan Haren who is 37. Coming off long stints on the DL, they have Josh Beckett, who will be in ST, and Chad Billingsley, who probably won’t arrive til May or June. And they have last’s year’s spot starter Stephen Fife and a couple of serious prospects who probably aren’t ready including Zach Lee. But if you’re making a championship run, you don’t want to rely on prospects or medical cases.

      In the end, maybe Maholm gets released or traded mid-season because their other options end up pitching so much better. But from the perspective of February 8th, this is a smart insurance move.

      • thegrayrace 1 year ago

        Haren is only 33.

        • Vail Beach 1 year ago

          Right you are. I confused him with who the Giants’ got, Tim Hudson. Because they both pitched for the A’s in their early days, I sometimes mix them up.

          • thegrayrace 1 year ago

            Understandable. It does feel like Haren has been around forever. He was only 22 his rookie season.

          • Vail Beach 1 year ago

            My memory. Now i see that by the time the A’s called up Haren, Hudson had been traded to Atlanta. And now, Mark Mulder, another teammate of Hudson’s, is making a comeback with Anaheim.

      • Jeffy25 1 year ago

        Haren is 37?

        They have
        Bills, haren, Beckett, kershaw, greinke, and ryu

        Maholm is 7th in projected era (behind Zach lee, ahead of bills though).

        Now do they only have four?

  15. Anthony Hughes 1 year ago

    It’s a fantastic value signing, no question.

  16. Aramis Ramirez' Basement 1 year ago

    Great deal. I hope teams like the Orioles/Rays/Rangers were willing to sign him at this and it was just Maholm’s preference. Cause if i were a fan of one of those teams i would be saying “why couldnt we have gotten this done?”

    • Michael 1 year ago

      If the Orioles were in on the negotiations and couldn’t pull the trigger on this one, they should just give up entirely. 31-year old who won ten games last year at 1.5 mil? Pretty sweet for L.A.

  17. Lefty_Orioles_Fan
    Lefty_Orioles_Fan 1 year ago

    Well, Scott Feldman got what a 3 yr / 30 million dollar deal.. Anyway…

    The Dodgers have a lot of high priced help.
    It should be interesting to see if this signing helps more or the “high priced” help gets the job done.

  18. Huff's dog 1 year ago

    Despite having a negative 0.1 WAR in 2013, this deal is still great for LAD, because we’ve all seen deals of over 20 million to comparable pitchers this offseason– Phil Hughes and jason Vargas, for example.

  19. Anthony Hughes 1 year ago

    So it’s a $1.5MM guarantee and he can earn as much as $6.5MM if he hits all of his incentives. Just a great deal for the Dodgers.

  20. Mike 1 year ago

    There are seven FAs left and there’s still a four way tie for first at 13 with a 11 way tie for second at 12. Still anyone’s game.

  21. Braves1976 1 year ago

    Great signing by the Dodgers, a bargain price for Maholm. At this price I’d been in favor of the Braves keeping him. That said, I wish Paul the best, at least against everyone but Atlanta (who he has pretty much owned in the past).

  22. DerekJeterDan 1 year ago

    Absolute STEAL. Excellent signing by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
    You can’t get much better pitching value than this folks. Well done.

    GMs should be doing THIS. Instead of forking over 20 Million for 40 year old Bartolo Colon, 24 Million for HR Phil Hughes, etc. Bargain deals like this CAN be found.

    • Seamaholic 1 year ago

      Maholm was really bad last year, and injury prone. He wouldn’t make most teams’ top five, so his true market must have been very very small, basically a bunch of bad teams and a few outliers with injuries like the Dodgers. And if they don’t have more injuries he’ll be out when Billingsley and Beckett return.

      • Anthony Hughes 1 year ago

        Take a look around major league rotations. I guarantee you that there are not 120 better bets than Paul Maholm. And while that doesn’t sound like anything, that number equates to 4 members of each MLB team’s rotation. He’s at worst good enough to be a #5 starter. As another commenter stated, his ERA + over the past 3 years is 100, so he’s at least a league average starter. And having a league average starter as your #5 is ahead of the game, my friend.

    • calamityfrancis 1 year ago

      Colon pitched at Cy Young levels last year. So, of course he’s going to cost more money.

  23. publius varrus 1 year ago

    This contract is a valuable trade chip if he and the other back-end-of-the-rotation guys pitch well before the end of July. Really good signing.

  24. publius varrus 1 year ago

    This contract is a valuable trade chip if he and the other back-end-of-the-rotation guys pitch well before the end of July. Really good signing.

  25. Dan 1 year ago

    I will not consider the Dodgers a legitimate World Series threat until they get a great 4th starter. Missing out on Tanaka was big. Signing guys like Maholm and Haren are not gonna get them over the hump.

    • thegrayrace 1 year ago

      Your #4 starter will get, at most, 3 starts in the postseason (once per series). And that’s only if they don’t pitch anyone on short rest. I really don’t think that was/is the Dodgers shortcoming. Their offense was absent from the NLCS, and that’s why they lost.

      And that being said, Dan Haren had a 1.017 WHIP and 3.52 ERA in the 2nd half last season. He could easily be a #3 on most teams, and even a #2 on several.

      • Dan 1 year ago

        but your #4 starter has to win those starts to win the world series. they can be just as important as your #1 in case they have a bad start. the dodgers cannot expect to start kershaw on short rest throughout the playoffs and put that much pressure on him. maybe haren could have a bounce back season, but the nationals dumped him and picked up fister, now that was smart. the dodgers are great 1-3 but have a bunch of washed up, struggling, injury prone guys opting for the 4 and 5 spots, a bad defensive team, and an unreliable bullpen. it has me worried.

        • Anthony Hughes 1 year ago

          Michael Wacha wasn’t even in the Cardinals’ rotation at the start of last season, obviously. He was their most important pitcher in their postseason run. Maholm is just a guy that can help to get them through the season. Same with Haren, really. So much can still happen between now and the postseason, should they get there. Zach Lee could emerge late, for all we know. Maybe Billingsley recovers sufficiently from the Tommy John surgery, a la John Lackey, to pitch like a #2 or #3. A lot can still happen. I’m not concerned about the Dodgers’ pitching. That’s the least of my worries with this team.

          • thegrayrace 1 year ago

            Good point about Billingsley. Solid #3 when healthy. Could overtake Haren for the #4 spot late in the season.

          • Anthony Hughes 1 year ago

            Thank you. I really have a good hunch about Billingsley this season. Bring him along slowly and have him give you 2-3 good months at the end of the season.

        • Dbacksfan44 1 year ago

          They don’t have an unreliable bullpen

          • thegrayrace 1 year ago

            Yeah, I’m not sure where that came from. Jansen has been best reliever in baseball not named Kimbrel the last couple seasons. If Brian Wilson can come close to replicating his brief performance last season, he’s probably the best setup man in baseball. Paco Rodriguez has huge potential. Howell and Wright are solid if unspectacular arms. Perez and League could certainly rebound, and if they don’t they’re backed up by a very impressive collection of young arms in Chris Withrow, Jose Dominguez, Onelki Garcia, Yimi Garcia, Scott Elbert. Most of those guys have late inning potential and can hit the mid-90s on their fastballs (triple digits for Dominguez).

          • Dan 1 year ago

            The dodgers bullpen was ranked 21st last year in WAR, and 15th in ERA. mediocre at best? they certainly improved this offseason, but i do not see them as a strength. i saw a game the giants won 19-1, the bullpen was rocked. i’m a dodgers fan, I wish i could be as optimistic as you guys. with all this money i can only see us getting to the NLCS and losing every year. i hope they prove me wrong.

          • vtadave 1 year ago

            That was the Ricky Nolasco 19-3 game. Only one of those guys that pitched that game is projected to be on the roster, J.P. Howell, and Howell pitched 2/3 of a scoreless inning in that one.

          • Dan 1 year ago

            fife, garcia, and league are still on the roster. i really hope none of them pitch for the dodgers this year. if the bullpen is paco, howell, withrow, wilson, wright, jensen and none of them get hurt, they have potential but have a lot to prove. i really hope the perez signing was a joke and they will release him.

          • Dan 1 year ago

            fife, garcia, and league are still on the roster. i really hope none of them pitch for the dodgers this year. if the bullpen is paco, howell, withrow, wilson, wright, jensen and none of them get hurt, they have potential but have a lot to prove. i really hope the perez signing was a joke and they will release him.

    • Dbacksfan44 1 year ago

      They have Kershaw, Greinke, and Ryu. They also have a great lineup. They are a legitimate WS contender

      • Dan 1 year ago

        the dodgers ranked 14th in defense in the NL in 2013, no team ranked that low has ever made the WS in the post 1995 postseason format. they also lost their best glove in Ellis. until they fix this and get a big 4th arm in the rotation. nope.

        • vtadave 1 year ago

          So the loss of Mark Ellis makes them unlikely to contend? Ok…

          • Dan 1 year ago

            wow, not even saying that. merely saying the second to worst defensive team in the NL got even worse. history would say this is a bad thing.

    • burnboll 1 year ago

      So let me ask you this:

      What teams have a better starting pitching rotation?

      If Dodgers aren’t legitimate WS contenders because they lack pitching depth, then who are contenders?

  26. Dan 1 year ago

    I will not consider the Dodgers a legitimate World Series threat until they get a great 4th starter. Missing out on Tanaka was big. Signing guys like Maholm and Haren are not gonna get them over the hump.

  27. pft2 1 year ago

    The guy was 31 and granted, had a bit of a down year last year but he has a ERA+ of 100 over the last 3 years and is clearly a league average starting pitcher which should be in great demand. I mean, Phil Hughes got 3/24?

    Something does not smell right.

    • MB923 1 year ago

      Hughes will pitch well away from Yankee Stadium. Heck his career Away ERA is nearly a full run lower than Maholm’s.

  28. Daniel Morairity 1 year ago

    The dodgers have so many pitchers and they have so much money and im shocked that the dodgers got mahlom

    • YARRitsBLAKE 1 year ago

      The Dodgers may have a lot of pitchers, but much of that pitching depth comes in the form of guys coming off injuries/surgeries, high-end prospects that have yet to get a cup of coffee, or fringe prospects who have performed in the majors but don’t project well over the long haul (i.e. Fife). That’s why Maholm was a signing they felt that had to make. And, like Haren, it is a great team friendly deal. Maholm only makes $1.5 million if he sucks, and if he hits the incentives, it means he is doing well, and the Dodgers will get a great return on investment. Haren’s deal is similar. $10 million for a former underrated fringe ace who had really only one terrible season, and is expected to be a #4 starter, and who’s 2015 option will only vest if he hits 170 IP, and that will only happen if he is pitching well, is a great team friendly deal.

      • Daniel Morairity 1 year ago

        how would you describe the dodgers taking the nl west this year YARRitsBLAKE

  29. BlueSkyLA
    BlueSkyLA 1 year ago

    My guess is the performance bonuses are very achievable, making the low base salary deceptive.

    • Urbano Lugo 1 year ago

      Agreed. And even if he maxes out all the incentives to hit 6.5M, that’s still a very palatable contract for another team to take on if a trade should arise later.

  30. PoseyTheGreat 1 year ago


  31. mas419 1 year ago

    It’s crazy how much deeper the Dodgers are than the Giants. As a Giants fan, I’m very annoyed.

    • BlueSkyLA
      BlueSkyLA 1 year ago

      We live for this.

    • Seamaholic 1 year ago

      It’s crazy what $250 million will do.

      • bigb69 1 year ago


        Plus the allure of playing on an expensive powerhouse team which if it doesn’t make the playoffs heads will roll will bring just about anyone to the fold.

  32. Wow, great signing, perfect place for this guy. Downside, it will take a ridiculous amount of rotation injuries to see Zach Lee get a shot before September.

  33. Stoibs 1 year ago

    How the heck does this happen?

  34. antonio montana 1 year ago

    I can’t believe this. What a bargain for LA, I had been hoping (as a pirate fan) that Pittsburgh would re-sign this guy instead of AJ Burnett. Maholm is SOLID, can not believe he was had for such a low price

    • pft2 1 year ago

      I suspect his medicals are awful. That’s the kind of deal you sign when the MRI shows your elbow is hanging by a thread

  35. Travis 1 year ago

    the Royals panicked when they signed Vargas. If they would have waited and trusted in the young arms of Ventura and Duffy, they may have enough money to bring Ervin Santana back at this point. Once again they misjudged the market. Rumor has it that Big Erv has a bum shoulder, but that remains to be seen.

  36. Anthony Hughes 1 year ago

    If Beckett actually did open as the fifth starter, they would move Maholm to the bullpen, and my guess is that Paco would begin the season in the minors. That’s actually fine with me; save his bullets until later in the season. We all saw how badly he faded last season due to overuse. Maholm could be a second lefty in the pen and help Wright out with long relief. I still expect Beckett to be of little use, though.

    • vtadave 1 year ago

      54 1/3 innings constitutes being overused? Not sure he really faded quite that badly – 6.1 IP and 4 ER in September isn’t great, but it’s not falling apart either. It would be ridiculous to carry Maholm as a reliever over Paco.

      • Anthony Hughes 1 year ago

        I watched almost every game last season, and yes, he was being used too much. It’s not the innings, it’s that Mattingly was using him on back-to-back days, 3 out of 4 days, things like that. He is young and wasn’t used to that. He had absolutely no life on his slider by the end of the season. And it wouldn’t be ridiculous. The Dodgers have more than enough coverage in their bullpen. It’s not imperative to actually have your best relievers on your team in the early portion of the season. They need Paco to be fresh when it really matters.

  37. Kevin Sheets 1 year ago

    Maholm just needs some tinkering. As a Braves fan, i wondered if his issues were mental. Maybe just the effect of play or call not going his way bringing him down. If you look at his splits, hes 2 different people. Road/Home 4-8 5.91/ 6-3 2.37….

  38. FTNS 1 year ago

    I won’t miss watching this guy stink it up on road games. Good riddance.

  39. burnboll 1 year ago

    Very good signing by Dodgers. One of the best pitching staffs I’ve ever seen.

    At the very first, injuries excluded, Maholm gives Dodgers a good long reliever.

  40. BlueSkyLA
    BlueSkyLA 1 year ago

    Beckett threw a good bullpen session this week, and said he is feeling the ball better than he has in years, now that the numbness in his hand is gone. So this could get interesting in a hurry.

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