Before the Chicago Cubs signed veteran starting pitcher Paul Maholm to a free agent contract this past off-season, Maholm made a career for himself with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Before the 2012 season with the Cubs, Maholm spent his past seven seasons with the Pirates. The Pirates were the team that Maholm made his Major League debut with in 2005.
In a sense, Maholm was essentially the “Ryan Dempster” for the Pirates organization. Similar to how the Cubs may be ready to part ways with Dempster this season, the Pirates were ready to depart with Maholm at the end of last season.
Now, the Pirates stand at 52 and 40 this season and looking for help in their starting rotation in order to keep in the National League Central division race with both the Cincinnati Reds and the St Louis Cardinals. The Pirates have been following the Cubs for the past couple of weeks, and they have kept a close eye on Maholm. Maholm is also drawing interest from the Washington Nationals and Kansas City Royals.
Paul Sullivan on the Chicago Tribune reports that the Pirates are indeed interested in Maholm and that the veteran pitcher could bring the Cubs a valuable return. Sullivan mentions two pitchers that the Pirates could be dangling in front of the Cubs. The two pitchers are left handed starters Jeff Locke and Rudy Owens.
The encouraging thing about Locke is that he was drafted by the Atlanta Braves out of the high school in the second round the 2006 first year player draft. The Braves traded Locke to the Pirates as part of the Nate McLouth trade in 2009. Locke is having an impressive season with the Pirates triple A affiliate. Locke has posted a record of 7 and 5 to go along with an ERA of 3.07.
Meanwhile, Owens is another left handed starting pitcher that is having an impressive season with the Pirates’ triple A affiliate. Owens was drafted out of high school in the 28th round of the 2006 first year player draft. Owens has posted a record of 8 and 4 on the season to go along with an ERA of 3.07.
It is no secret that the Cubs are searching for pitching prospects in any trade that the team makes this season. That is in large part the reason why the Cubs’ front office is looking to trade Dempster, Maholm, and Matt Garza. Each of those three starting pitcher would likely bring the Cubs quality pitching prospects in return. To go deeper in the Cubs need of pitching prospects, the two things they are lacking are top level pitching prospects and left handed pitching prospects. Both Owens and Locke fill that need for the Cubs.
Maholm is 8 and 6 on the season with the Cubs and has posted an ERA of 4.09 in 18 starts for the team during the 2012 season.