June 29, 2010

Trade Possibilities: Paul Maholm

PITTSBURGH, Pa. / June 29, 2010

Returning from a ten day blackout, we present the trade possibilities for the Pirates' best trading chip, Paul Maholm. Note on the blackout: If MLB can black out Orioles games in southeastern North Carolina for being home games, then we can black out the WFC Blog in Pittsburgh. Anyway, Maholm illustrated his value to a contending team with his eight inning, one run game last night.

Why Trade Paul Maholm?
Quite simply, Maholm is the one player likely to bring the most return. He could be a #4 starter for a playoff team, meaning he could bring in more value than anyone else on the roster.

Maholm is the best starter on the team and gives the club six innings or more almost every time out. He's also signed to a club-friendly deal through next season with an option for 2012. Yet, this team is 26-50 and it's hard to imagine anyone in this group being untouchable.

What would the Pirates get?
Looking ahead to 2011, the Pirates have needs at shortstop and right field. I think they wouldn't give up their most valuable trading piece without getting a top shortstop or outfield prospect in return - one who can contribute in 2011. A starting pitcher would also be desired, but that would be a lateral move without the aforementioned prospect.

Who Would Want Maholm?
Almost every team in the league could use Maholm. His 3.98 ERA would be an improvement over everyone's fifth starter, and he's good enough to be a fourth starter on a playoff team meaning, of course, he would start in the playoffs. Here are some of the notables:

1. The Philadelphia Phillies are known to be in the market for a mid-tier starting pitcher. Kyle Kendrick (4-2, 4.71) or Joe Blanton (3-5, 6.53) would head to the bullpen if such a move were made. The Phillies have added a pitcher at the last four trade deadlines and seem certain to do so again. Maholm's pitch-to-contact game would work perfectly with Philadelphia's strong left side infield defense of Gold Glove winners Placido Polanco and Jimmy Rollins.

2. The Boston Red Sox are always active at the trade deadline and are currently in need of starting pitching. Like Philadelphia they have strong left side infield defense with Adrian Beltre and Marco Scutaro, and would seem to be a great fit for Maholm. The Sox, like the Phillies, are also a past trading partner of the Pirates.

3. The Detroit Tigers, if they expect to overtake Minnesota in the AL Central, could do without Rick Porcello (4-7, 6.14) in their rotation.

The Verdict
Keep him. Unless the Pirates are overwhelmed by a deal for Maholm, there's no reason to jettison their ace. Last week's disaster start notwithstanding, Maholm gives six to seven innings every time out. I'm generally opposed to any deal which sacrifices the next season and it's hard to believe the Pirates could get enough in return to be better in 2011. That being said, this is a qualified "Keep Him" since I would certainly listen to offers.

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