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- Cubs Looking For Starting Pitching, Lefty Outfield Bats
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Paul Maholm Rumors
Earlier today, we learned the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright could miss the rest of the season after suffering an Achilles injury in last night’s game against the Brewers. GM John Mozeliak has said he will wait to determine Wainwright’s status until the right-hander has been examined by team doctors tomorrow. However, that hasn’t stopped the speculation from bubbling as to how the Cardinals will replace their ace.
Here’s the latest on those rumors and the rest of the news from the National League:
- With the Cardinals set to host the Phillies for four games beginning tomorrow, Cole Hamels tops the list of external options to fill Wainwright’s void. Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets the Cardinals do not have the prospects to satisfy the Phillies, but the Dodgers and Red Sox are lurking.
- Besides Hamels, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Bernie Miklasz opines the Cardinals could puruse a high-caliber starter entering their walk year like David Price, Jordan Zimmermann or Jeff Samardzija. Miklasz, who does examine the Cardinals’ internal candidates, also suggests signing Paul Maholm or acquiring an under-the-radar pitcher like the Phillies‘ Aaron Harang.
- Hamels trade talks could accelerate in the wake of injuries to Wainwright, the Dodgers‘ Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-jin Ryu, and the struggles of the Red Sox‘s staff, writes Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
- Speaking of the Dodgers, the new front office’s philosophy of adding depth with low profile transactions was put into place to weather a rash of injuries and those acquisitions will now become more relevant, according to ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Mark Saxon.
- One by-product of Wainwright’s injury could be a renewed push for the NL to adopt the DH, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. “I wouldn’t be opposed,” Max Scherzer told Heyman. “If you look at it from the macro side, who’d people rather see hit — Big Papi or me? Both leagues need to be on the same set of rules. We keep searching for offense. This would be the easiest way to add offense.” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, as quoted by MLive.com’s Aaron McMann, puts it more bluntly, “When a pitcher goes down with an injury when he’s hitting, you make people second guess the National League’s style of play.“
Lefty Paul Maholm has a “standing offer” at Triple-A with the Reds, tweets Jon Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. At present, however, Maholm is looking to secure a big league deal if possible. He was released yesterday by Cincinnati.
Here’s more from the NL Central:
- The Pirates have pillaged the Yankees in recent seasons, particularly in the catching department, as Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Both teams have placed significant value on pitch framing, but Sawchik suggests that perhaps Pittsburgh has remained more willing to commit to its ideas in that area. “I’m not sure if they were ahead of us, we were ahead of them or if we arrived at this way of thinking at the same time. Actually, they were probably first,” said club GM Neal Huntington. “The two clubs evaluate catchers similarly.”
- The agent for Cubs third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant, Scott Boras, says that starting the season without the game’s top big-league-ready prospect in the majors is tantamount to staging “ersatz baseball,” Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. “MLB is not MLB without the best players,” said Boras.
- Cubs starter Edwin Jackson, himself a former Boras client, is still waiting to learn what his role will be in 2015, as ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers reports. It seems likely that he’s headed to a middle relief spot, in spite of the fact that he’s still owed $22MM by the team.
- Cubs owner Tom Ricketts indicates that his organization is still executing on its plan to build steadily, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. “We knew that if we’re ever going to bring a World Series to Chicago, it’s to be disciplined, and build things the right way,” said Ricketts. “We’ve done that. Now, it’s up to us to deliver that promise.” That goes for the team’s player assets as well as its efforts to rehabilitate Wrigley Field, as Nightengale explains.
The Reds announced that they have released veteran left-hander Paul Maholm (Twitter link). Cincinnati told Maholm a week ago that he wouldn’t earn a spot in the team’s rotation, but at the time, Maholm was still uncertain about exercising the out clause in his contract.
Maholm, 32, spent last season with the Dodgers, working to a 4.84 ERA with 4.3 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 70 2/3 innings between their rotation and the bullpen. Though he’s struggled over the past two seasons, Maholm was a more than serviceable rotation arm for the Pirates, Cubs and Braves from 2011-12, recording 351 1/3 innings of 3.66 ERA ball in that time. He also pitched well this spring, yielding only three runs in 12 1/3 innings, although his 5-to-3 K/BB ratio in that time leaves something to be desired.
The Reds’ rotation figures to include Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, Anthony DeSclafani and a yet-undetermined fifth starter, with Raisel Iglesias and Jason Marquis possibly still in the mix. Cincinnati made the surprising decision to shift Tony Cingrani to the bullpen earlier this spring.
If the Cubs keep Kris Bryant at Triple-A to begin the season, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal believes the MLBPA should file a grievance as a matter of principle. It would be a mostly symbolic gesture (“The case law overwhelmingly favors the clubs,” according to one of Rosenthal’s sources) yet it would indicate that the players’ union is serious about addressing this service-time loophole when the new collective bargaining agreement is negotiated next year. It would also be a big-picture show of strength by the union, as some player agents feel that the MLBPA has a bit too lenient on some recent issues.
Here’s more from around the NL Central…
- The Braves initially asked for Carlos Martinez when they began discussing the Jason Heyward trade with the Cardinals, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The Cards refused, just as they’ve steadfastly turned down other trade offers for Martinez in recent years, yet Miklasz wonders why the club is so committed to keeping Martinez but is hesitant to give him a regular rotation job. Miklasz argues that if the Cardinals have any doubts about Martinez, they might be better served by dealing him now while his stock is still high.
- Arquimedes Caminero has been impressed scouts this spring, and the Pirates may be forced to put the out-of-options righty on the roster in order to keep him, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Keeping Caminero in the bullpen could force John Holdzkom to start the year at Triple-A, as while Holdzkom has pitched well himself in camp, he still has minor league options.
- Speaking of the Pirates‘ roster crunch, GM Neal Huntington told Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that a move could possibly be made to address the Bucs’ several out-of-options players. “We have some guys who are out of options who may be of interest to other clubs,” Huntington said. “We may make a small trade … or claim somebody on waivers or lose somebody on waivers. We still have some (roster) decisions to make and are always open to improving our talent level.”
- The Reds have told veteran southpaw Paul Maholm that he won’t be earning a rotation job, though Maholm isn’t yet considering opting out of his minor league deal with the club, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. “We still have some time left in camp,” Maholm said. “I’m trying to pitch and get ready for the season. Those are decisions we have to make at the date that’s set up. Until then, I’m just going to pitch.” The Reds would have to pay Maholm $100K to retain his services if he’s not going to make their Major League roster, as per his status as an Article XX(B) player.
Cubs righty Jacob Turner will likely not return to action for another spring game, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports, but medical review after he experienced elbow discomfort revealed no ligament damage. “I’m just going to see how it feels,” said Turner. “The plan is four to six weeks of not throwing, and then go off how I feel.” Given his lack of options, I would expect the club to bring him along quite slowly — possibly utilizing a 60-day DL stay to free a roster spot.
Meanwhile, here are some roster situations percolating elsewhere in the National League:
- We noted earlier today that Tony Cingrani is destined for the Reds pen. John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer discusses the implications of that move for the team’s rotation battle. Another candidate — David Holmberg — was bumped down to minor league camp, leaving the relatively inexperienced Raisel Iglesias and Anthony DeSclafani to fight veteran non-roster invitees Jason Marquis and Paul Maholm for two permanent spots (and a temporary substitute for Homer Bailey to start the year). Skipper Bryan Price explained that considerations of control will come into play: “The thing is, we’ve got veteran guys like Marquis and Maholm and we don’t want to use them one start,” Price said. “If they’re going to be on our team, the hope is they’re on our team for the entire season if not longer. That’s how we have to look at it. You can back-and-forth a young guy. He can start a game or two, go down the minor leagues or go into the bullpen and help as a long guy. Marquis and Maholm are looking more like long-term, start-to-finish options for us.”
- The Diamondbacks will be fascinating to watch this year, albeit not necessarily in terms of the on-field product, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. As he notes, the team’s newly-installed front office leaders seem to have different ideas than many of their counterparts in the industry. While the organization is saddled with some less-than-ideal contracts, and seems higher on several players than others, it nevertheless has no shortage of young talent, trade chips, and roster options. That should make Arizona an active player in the transactional game over the course of the season.
- Meanwhile, it is time for the Mets to press forward with delivering a winning team, even with Zack Wheeler likely lost to Tommy John surgery, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes. In the immediate term, there have been conflicting signals on how the club will fill in for Wheeler, with skipper Terry Collins saying Dillon Gee will move back to the rotation, GM Sandy Alderson declining to provide such a clear answer, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post reporting that prospect Rafael Montero could have a chance at breaking camp. In the aggregate, there is enough depth and talent to make up for losing Wheeler, says Davidoff, removing his injury as an excuse if a legitimate contender does not emerge. For his part, Sherman wonders whether the club has staked too much of its future on the health and development of young arms, though it seems worth echoing Davidoff’s point here: the sheer number and upside of the alternatives in camp give New York ample options.
The Reds have announced, via Twitter, they have signed left-hander Paul Maholm, which was first reported by CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. It is a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training, tweets C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Maholm is represented by Bo McKinnis. No financial terms have been announced.
Maholm, who pitched for the Dodgers last year after signing a one-year, $1.5MM contract, saw his season cut short when he tore the ACL in his right knee while covering first base during a game in August. The 32-year-old told FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi recently his right knee is doing “great” and he has been undergoing his normal offseason regimen since December (Twitter link).
Maholm did pitch in 30 games for the Dodgers (eight starts and 22 relief appearances) posting an overall line of 4.84 ERA, a career-worst 4.3 K/9, and 3.6 BB/9 over 70 2/3 innings. Reds GM Walt Jocketty says Maholm will compete for a spot in the starting rotation, according to MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. If Maholm impresses, he could land in the bullpen and be utilized, as he was by the Dodgers, in a swingman role.
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.
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.
If things went differently, Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson could have found himself on the pages of Pro Football Rumors rather than MLBTR. Gibson was a standout wide receiver at Michigan State in 1977 and in an effort to increase his leverage with the NFL, he returned to the baseball diamond for the first time since high school, writes Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic. When the Tigers drafted Gibson with the 12th pick in the 1978 draft, they allowed him to finish out his senior season but made him give up on the NFL. Here's more out of the NL West..
- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly says that newly-acquired starter Paul Maholm knows he might wind up pitching in relief if Josh Beckett is healthy and named the fifth starter, tweets Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
- Diamondbacks newcomer Bronson Arroyo might not give Arizona the kind of production they were hoping to get out of a rotation addition this winter, but he should give them plenty of innings, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.
- Randall Delgado is out-of-options, but the Diamondbacks won't let him get away, tweets Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona. The D'Backs want to keep all of their assets so if he's not in the starting five, they'll slot him in the bullpen.
12:23pm: Maholm is likely to sign a minor-league deal with the Dodgers, MLB.com's Ken Gurnick tweets. That Maholm would receive a minor-league deal is somewhat surprising, given his relative youth and history of reasonably strong performances.
10:08am: Judging from events in the Dodgers' clubhouse today, the team appears likely to sign starting pitcher Paul Maholm. Maholm currently has a locker, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times notes (via Twitter). Hernandez also tweets that Maholm is in the clubhouse, apparently to take a physical. The Dodgers were reportedly a candidate to sign Bronson Arroyo, so Arroyo's recent decision to sign with the Diamondbacks may have led the Dodgers to pursue Maholm as an alternative.
Maholm, 31, posted a 4.41 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 153 innings with the Braves last season. He made $6.5MM after the Braves picked up an option on the one-year deal he originally signed with the Cubs prior to the 2012 season. The lefty is one of many starting pitchers remaining on the free-agent market, joining names like Chris Capuano and Suk-Min Yoon in a tier below top options A.J. Burnett, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes projected that Maholm would get a one-year, $7MM deal this offseason.
Draft pick compensation is hanging over the market for several prominent, unsigned free agents — namely, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, Stephen Drew, Nelson Cruz, and Kendrys Morales. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looks at the draft pick situations of some of the clubs that might consider adding one of those names. As we finish a quiet Monday, let's round up some notes on free agent rumors from around the league:
- The Angels do not seem to be operating with much urgency to add a free agent pitcher, tweets Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. If the club does add to its rotation with an open-market contract, says DiGiovanna, it is more likely to go after Jason Hammel or Chris Capuano than Bronson Arroyo or Paul Maholm.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said today that the club does not have any outstanding offers for guaranteed MLB deals, tweets Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. As MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Tracker shows, Philadelphia has not entered such a pact since inking Roberto Hernandez on December 18.
- After committing a cool half-billion dollars through free agency (if you count Masahiro Tanaka and his release fee), the Yankees appear to be done adding significant salaries for the offseason, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. New York seems to be following through on GM Brian Cashman's statements that the club would not pursue Drew, says Martino, and the team is not currently trying to work out a deal to bring Chase Headley over from the Padres.