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, MLB.com'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.

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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 MLB.com 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.


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98 Comments on "Dodgers Sign Paul Maholm"


Puig Power
1 year 6 months ago

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

silverwidow
1 year 6 months ago

Scott Elbert was put on the 60-day DL

tim815
1 year 6 months ago

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

Anthony Hughes
1 year 6 months ago

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

thegrayrace
1 year 6 months 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 6 months 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 6 months 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 6 months 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 6 months 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.

Anthony Hughes
1 year 6 months ago

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

antonio montana
1 year 6 months ago

And mental retardation by the rest of mlb, unbelievable

Jared
1 year 6 months 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 6 months ago

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

MD
1 year 6 months ago

How the hell did they pull this one off?

daren hill
1 year 6 months 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?

Seth Guttman
1 year 6 months ago

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

Adrian Garcia
1 year 6 months ago

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

thegrayrace
1 year 6 months 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 6 months 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 6 months 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 6 months 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.

Jared
1 year 6 months 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 6 months ago

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

LazerTown
1 year 6 months 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.

Jared
1 year 6 months ago

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

AceRuby
1 year 6 months 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 6 months 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 6 months ago

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

North
1 year 6 months 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 6 months 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 6 months 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.

Mark Tabello
1 year 6 months 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

D.j. Wilson
1 year 6 months ago

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

bobbybaseball
1 year 6 months ago

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

Jeffy25
1 year 6 months 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 6 months 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 6 months ago

Haren is only 33.

Vail Beach
1 year 6 months 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 6 months ago

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

Vail Beach
1 year 6 months 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 6 months 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?

Anthony Hughes
1 year 6 months ago

It’s a fantastic value signing, no question.

Aramis Ramirez' Basement
1 year 6 months 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 6 months 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.

Lefty_Orioles_Fan
Lefty_Orioles_Fan
1 year 6 months 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.

Huff's dog
1 year 6 months 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.

Anthony Hughes
1 year 6 months 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.

Mike
1 year 6 months 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.