Paul Maholm has expressed his willingness to discuss an extension to remain in Pittsburgh and he noted that he would prefer to get a new contract done sooner rather than later. Pirates GM Neal Huntington, talking to MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch, didn't rule out the possibility of negotiations taking place before the trade deadline but also said that his club would rather wait until the offseason to talk contracts.
"We would very much prefer not to negotiate in-season, but it's not an absolute policy," Huntington said. "It's something that we'll look at on a case-by-case basis, but the strong preference is to do these things outside of the season."
Langosch noted that Huntington didn't hint one way or the other about whether the Pirates wished to keep Maholm and thus she ruminated on the cases for Pittsburgh both keeping or moving the southpaw. Maholm is putting up solid numbers and would give the otherwise young Bucs staff a reliable, innings-eating veteran presence for a few years to come. Or, absent an extension, Huntington could just exercise Maholm's $9.75MM team option for 2012 to keep the left-hander but still not make too much of a commitment.
On the other hand, Maholm's numbers aren't so special that a low-payroll team like the Pirates would feel totally comfortable giving him even a modest contract like $24MM over three years. Maholm could be dealt while his trade value is at his highest and Pittsburgh would fill that hole in the rotation with one of their several young pitching prospects (such as Brad Lincoln or Jeff Locke). And, while Maholm and Andrew McCutchen are obviously on far different levels of importance within the Pirates organization, the team was certainly willing to enter in-season negotiations with McCutchen about a multiyear deal. Huntington might have given more than scant details about an extension for Maholm if it was a move the club was seriously considering, Langosch notes.