Shortly after news broke regarding the acquisition of Hisashi Iwakuma, a rumor appeared in terms of the Mariners interest in Paul Maholm. In an interview shortly after the signing, Zduriencik stated he would continue his search for a veteran arm. While rotation depth is important for the success of the club, the presumed cost and skill set Maholm brings to the table is redundant as the rotation sits now.
It’s completely safe to say Felix and Pineda will top our rotation in 2012 (and many years to come) and after that you’ll more than likely see Vargas and Iwakuma. The Mariners also have Beavan and Furbush, who got their feet wet last year, along with Danny Hultzen, James Paxton, and a little further away, Taijuan Walker on their way.
It’s not that I see Maholm demanding a long term contract, he missed the end of last season with a shoulder injury by the way, it’s more a problem with the allocation of resources. We still don’t know exactly how much money the M’s are going to spend in 2012. Once Fielder signs we’ll have a much better idea, as we either drop some serious coin, or see other transactions made once we are out of the race for the big guy.
Now, if Maholm signs for an amount equal to or less than Jason Vargas’ 2012 pay after arbitration, and Vargas is moved, maybe the deal makes sense. But wouldn’t you rather have Vargas anyways? We know what Vargas is, and it’s serviceable. Personally, I also want to see if he carries that twist into the season, and what, if any, effect it has on his pitching throughout the summer.
As was mentioned above, Maholm missed the end of 2011 with a shoulder injury. The Mariners have already acquired one pitcher with recent shoulder issues, why bring in another question mark. Besides the shoulder issue, Maholm had himself a nice season. With that said, his numbers are due for some regression this season as he had his lowest BABIP against since becoming a fixture in the rotation at .286 (career .310). His ERA of 3.66 and xFIP of 4.03 also point towards 2011 being a “luckier” (man I hate using that term) season for Maholm.
Lastly, just for fun, let’s compare some career numbers between Jason Vargas and Paul Maholm.
Vargas – 5.72
Maholm – 5.55
Vargas – 2.94
Maholm – 3.01 (in all fairness, that number over the last 3 seasons is 2.85)
Vargas – 8.0% (6.9% the last 2 seasons)
Maholm – 9.8% (7.6% the last 2 seasons)
The main difference between the two pitchers is how they get their outs. Maholm is much more a ground ball pitcher than Vargas, 52.3 GB% compared to 35.3 GB%, however being left handed and pitching your home games in Seattle, this difference is much closer than it appears.
By now you’ve probably realized Maholm wouldn’t be a bad signing, rather, money not directed towards appropriate needs. I honestly have no idea what type of contract Maholm will receive. If it’s a minor league deal, I’d be disappointed if the M’s didn’t sign him. I don’t see that however, given his former 1st round status and recent success from the left side. As the team is currently constructed Maholm doesn’t make sense if it involves a seven figure contract.
Should the Mariners sign Paul Maholm to an MLB contract?