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Re-Signing Paul Maholm A Bad Idea

The Trib reports that Paul Maholm wouldn't mind sticking with the Pirates, and that Neal Huntington was surprised to hear that:

The Pirates have not made an offer to Maholm, nor even asked about opening talks. General manager Neal Huntington seemed pleasantly surprised when told of Maholm's position.

"I'm glad to hear it," Huntington said. "Paul's done some good things for this organization. We'll give it due consideration."

At PirateFest a couple weeks ago, Maholm told me and other bloggers that he'd be interested in staying. The problem is that I don't see where he'd fit in. Already in 2012, he won't be cheap, with a $9.75 million option (minus a $750,000 buyout that the Pirates will have to pay no matter what - we should probably just consider that a part of his 2011 salary).

Maholm had a 5.10 ERA last year. Part of that was due to the Bucs' awful defense, but his xFIP of 4.56 still wasn't great. His velocity also decreased somewhat last year, and with mediocre stuff and a baseball age of 29 in 2011, there's no good reason to think Maholm's best years are ahead of him. He's durable, and he was really good in 2008, but fi that's the best you can say about a guy, you haven't said much.

Also, the Pirates will hopefully churn out several mid- to back-of-the-rotation pitchers in the next couple of years. With Rudy Owens, Bryan Morris, Jeff Locke and Justin Wilson about to debut, the Pirates will be in big trouble if they still need Maholm in a year or two. A competent back-of-the-rotation starter is nice to have around, but the Pirates shouldn't be wedded to the one they have if they can find a couple from among the group that will be at Class AAA this year who will be at least as good.

Maholm isn't worthless, but keeping him on as a Pirate only makes sense if he's willing to stay cheaply. Otherwise, the Pirates should spend the money elsewhere and trade Maholm this year while they can get some value for him. They'll have Owens or someone else ready to step into their rotation if they do.