Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago is reporting that the Cubs are negotiating with former Pirate lefty starter Paul Maholm. After watching the bidding for leftys Mark Buehrle and CJ Wilson quickly jump out of the price range. Maholm features an unattractive 6-14 record in 2011 with Pittsburgh, but his ERA and WHIP of 3.66 and 1.29 respectively indicate that the W-L totals are misleading.
Maholm earned $6.25 million last year and even if the Cubs have to go two years in the ballpark of that salary amount annually, it would be a cost effective solution to filling one of the two open spots in the rotation. Maholm could easily reach double digit wins in 2012 as part of the back end of the Cubs rotation. With Cubs fans still feeling the burn from a couple of the long term contracts remaining from the old regime, a short term deal with Maholm would definitely be more attractive.
If a deal were to be struck, it would also not prevent the Cubs from continuing to pursue Yu Darvish, assuming the North Siders are the high bidder in the posting system set up for Japanese imports. A rotation featuring Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Darvish, a sane Carlos Zambrano, and Maholm would immediately be one of the deepest in the NL Central, if not the National League minus the Giants or Phillies. Randy Wells could step into one of the back of the rotation spots if the Garza rumors actually gain legs or if the Cubs are able to dump Zambrano.
The Winter Meetings may have been quiet for the poker faced Cubs front office, but the holiday season and the remainder of the winter figures to heat up for Cubs fans and their team. Stay tuned with Cubbies Crib for all the latest.