Chicago Cubs: Paul Maholm
They've made it pretty clear they won't replace Tanaka with one of the remaining big name free agent pitchers, including former Cub Matt Garza. Not unless one falls into their lap. So where do they turn?
Internally, the Cubs have Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson and Jake Arrieta as mainstays. Justin Grimm, acquired last season for Garza, could be an option as could 2013 Cubs minor league pitcher of the year Kyle Hendricks. Lefty Chris Rusin is leftover from last year as well. But like any team, five, six or even seven starters aren't enough in this day and age. So expect a minor signing to compete with those names.
A source familiar with the situation says the Cubs won't be re-signing Scott Baker, who threw well for the Cubs the final month of the season after rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. He's moving on. Former Cub Paul Maholm is available as is Jason Hammel, who pitched for the Baltimore Orioles last season. Both have been linked to Chicago.
The hole Tanaka leaves is bigger in the coming seasons when the Cubs hope to compete for the playoffs. They have time to find that ace, it just means 2014 is shaping up to be another rough year.
CHICAGO -- For one month, anyway, the Chicago Cubs had their act together and it was the starting pitching that led the way.
The season might have ended with 101 defeats, but the month of July wasn’t to blame as the Cubs posted a 15-10 record.
That things went south again once Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm were traded before the July 31 non-waiver deadline -- not to mention the season-ending injury to Matt Garza -- came as no surprise.
Overall, though, it was a rough ride as the Cubs starters combined for a 4.52 ERA, 14th best in the 16-team National League. Their 42 wins were 15th in the league.
In the end things went as expected for the starting staff, with the only exception being that Garza is still a member of the Cubs organization. He figured to be dealt before the end of the season, but his elbow injury July 21 in an outing against the Cardinals nixed those plans and ended his year.
Garza finished the season with a 3.91 ERA over 18 starts and held opponents to a .236 batting average.
Dempster lifted his trade value with a 2.25 ERA over 16 starts, but things didn’t work out exactly as the club had planned when the right-hander vetoed a trade to the Atlanta Braves. Dempster earned his veto power as a 10-year veteran with at least five years with the same club. Instead of the Cubs landing major-league-ready pitcher Randall Delgado from the Braves, they ended up ended up with a pair of Single-A players from the Texas Rangers --third baseman Christian Villanueva and right-hander Kyle Hendricks.
Atlanta gets marginally better for this year with the additions of Maholm and Johnson, but the Cubs land the best prospect they're likely to obtain in this year's trade market in exchange for two players they didn't need.
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The Chicago Cubs added right-hander Arodys Vizcaino on Monday as part of a package that sent Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson to the Atlanta Braves.
And while Vizcaino was rated by Baseball America to be the second-best prospect in the Braves' system, he won’t be pitching again until spring training in 2013 because of Tommy John surgery back in March.
Hoyer believes the risk is limited, although he admitted that he has never traded for a player who is still on his way back from this type of surgery.
“It's a little bit unusual,” Hoyer said. “Obviously we took a lot of time to go through the medical reports. Obviously what we got back we felt good about. I think in the case of Tommy John, of course you're taking a risk because the guy’s injured. But in the case of Tommy John, the way it sounded from the medical people generally they perfected it to the point where people come back pretty strong.
“I think it's unusual to trade for an injured guy coming off surgery. Having the medical notes and knowing the success rate of Tommy John and knowing the number of guys that have come back strong it makes it a little bit easier.”
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs’ clubhouse will have an infusion of new faces if management completes the much-anticipated pre-trade-deadline roster overhaul on Tuesday.
The beginning of a new Cubs’ era started to take shape during Monday’s contest as Reed Johnson and Geovany Soto both were pulled from the game and traded in separate deals. A source told ESPNDallas.com’s Richard Durrett the Cubs will be getting minor league pitcher Jake Brigham for Soto, a former Rookie of the Year. Along with Johnson, Paul Maholm will also be heading to the Braves in exchange for pitching prospects Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman.
Vizcaino was the key to the trade for the Cubs despite the fact he is still recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery in May.
“It is a little bit unusual but we took a lot of time going through the medical report,” Hoyer said. “Of course you are taking a risk because the guy is injured but in the case of Tommy John it has been to perfected to a point that people come back and generally come back pretty strong.
The Cubs-Rangers trade was still pending physical and cash considerations before being announced by the team.
Starter Jeff Samardzjia will miss all of his teammates who hugged and said their goodbyes during Monday’s contest.
“It was the first time I had ever been a part of anything like that,” Samardzjia said. “This is a profession. (Management has) the right to make these moves, but it is tough to see good guys go.”
Before Tuesday afternoon’s trade deadline comes and goes, the Cubs could very well move other franchise fixtures. Most notably, Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza could be traded. The Dodgers have been the main suitor for Dempster, but the Yankees could come in with a last minute offer, according to industry sources. As for Garza, the Toronto Blue Jays have the strongest interest as of Monday night.
The Cubs sent Paul Maholm, Reed Johnson and cash considerations to the Braves exactly a week after the Dempster move to Atlanta was agreed to only to have the Cubs pitcher veto the deal through his 10-and-5 rights (10 years in the league and five with the same team).
“It was one of those situations where we were aware Atlanta was in the market for a starting pitcher so that made the conversation a little easier,” Hoyer said with a laugh.
Instead of getting highly-regarded pitching prospect Randall Delgado back in return, which is the prize the Cubs would have received in the Dempster deal, they got right-handed pitchers Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman instead.
Vizcaino, 21, is currently out of action after having Tommy John surgery in March. He made his major-league debut with the Braves last season at age 20, going 1-1 with a 4.67 ERA in 17 relief appearances.
Chapman, 25, is 3-6 with seven saves and a 3.52 ERA in 40 appearances for Triple-A Gwinnett.
“In the case of Vizcaino we had a chance to get a 21-year-old that, while injured right now, we feel has a really bright future, a guy with a great arm and the kind of power arm we’re looking to add to the system,” Hoyer said. “And Chapman has had some good success in Triple-A as a reliever and is another guys we are excited about.
“But to be able to turn two guys – one guy with a year and an option (Maholm) and another guy who is a free agent (Johnson) – into an arm like Vizcaino, that’s the kind of chance we need to take right now.”
A new deal between the Cubs and Braves showed there was no animosity. But Monday’s deal also made it clear the Braves were not going to revisit a trade involving Dempster.
“There are certainly no hard feelings among the front offices for what happened,” Hoyer said. “We were up front with them about the situation going in. They were aware we certainly didn’t go into that process thinking that deal wasn’t going to happen. We had a lot of dialog and we discussed a lot of players and it probably made revisiting something a little easier.”
Then again, they might consider staying as far from the classifieds as possible when it comes to Paul Maholm.
The lefty has been on somewhat of a wild ride of late. He had low value about a month ago, started looking like a solid trade piece in recent weeks and has suddenly emerged as a pitcher the Cubs might want to have stick around for a while.
The Cubs' two best trade chips, Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza, have proved difficult to move over the past week. Dempster has trade veto rights and Garza has been dealing with a sore arm.
The constant rumors and uncertainty surrounding Tuesday's 3 p.m. CST deadline has been hard on the Cubs. Manager Dale Sveum was asked if he is anxious for Wednesday to arrive.
"Tuesday at 3 o'clock will be fine too," he said, "not that I know the time or anything."
The expectation around baseball is that Dempster still gets traded by Tuesday. Teams that he had been linked to previously, like the Dodgers and Braves, are still in play, but others are expected to emerge as the deadline nears.
The sense is that the Cubs' leverage will improve as Tuesday's 3 p.m. CST deadline draws closer. Since it has become widely known that Dempster's No. 1 destination is Los Angeles, the Dodgers' offers have reportedly been well below what the Cubs are willing to accept.
As the game of chicken played by baseball general manager's intensifies while the clock starts ticking louder, the Cubs are expected to eventually jump on a deal they like.
Helping the Cubs on the Dempster front is that with every deal that goes down for a starting pitcher, it's one less option remaining for teams interested in adding an arm.
Dempster is still more highly regarded by National League teams since there is a sense that his arsenal of pitches wouldn't play as well in the American League.
More question marks actually surround Garza, who was previously believed to be the pitcher that would bring the better return package. Helping Garza's value is the fact that he still has one more full season before he reaches his first year of free agency.
Garza's sore right triceps has improved steadily since suffering a cramp last weekend at St. Louis, but teams still won't be able to see him pitch before the deadline. Garza is set for a bullpen session Monday afternoon and if he isn't traded, he would possibly return to action on the next road trip against the Dodgers, a team that had shown interest in acquiring him.
While Garza's sore arm has hurt the Cubs' trade leverage, what is helping it is the fact that the team is less inclined to settle for anything short of maximum return. Garza would still have solid value in the offseason, especially if he pitches well in the second half.
Pitchers aren't the only trade chips that have earned the Cubs calls from other clubs. Bryan LaHair, Darwin Barney, Paul Maholm, Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker all have value to contenders looking to plug roster deficiencies either in the starting lineup or on the bench for the stretch drive.
One rumor had Maholm possibly returning to his old stomping ground of Pittsburgh in a deal, but the Pirates effectively nixed that idea when they traded for left-hander Wandy Rodriguez on Tuesday.
Despite just coming to the Cubs this season, it’s not as if heading to a new team so soon would be easy for Maholm.
“It would be a huge transition,” Maholm said Wednesday on the “Waddle and Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000. “I have a wife and a son, and both of them are enjoying Chicago just like me, and that's the reason we decided to sign in the offseason.”
With team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer working the phones as they try to rebuild the roster, Maholm can still be moved. Unlike Dempster he does not have trade veto rights.
“We play for the postseason and want to do that, but we'll see how the next six, seven days go, or however long we've got,” Maholm said. “I'm not one of those guys who's going to go in to Jed or Theo and ask them or go to (manager Dale Sveum) and ask if he's heard anything. My job is to be prepared every fifth day, and that's what I'm going to do, expect to make my start on Sunday and see where we go from there.”
It isn’t like Maholm is itching to get out of town. He appreciates what the Cubs have done for him.
“That's one of the reasons I signed and gave them a (contract) option,” he said. “I finished last year hurt and everyone thought I was still hurt. They showed they believed in me and signed me, and I'm hoping to stick around for a good while. The fans are awesome.”
Cubs pitcher Paul Maholm joined "Waddle & Silvy" to discuss trade rumors, Ryan Dempster and more.
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Paul Maholm continued his impressive run in some familiar territory as he handcuffed his former team, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Maholm was right at home in allowing just one run on four hits over eight innings and is now on something of a historic run for the Cubs.
“I wasn’t around to see that old stretch,” Maholm joked. “I’m going to continue to be consistent and get deep into games, hope the defense works out, we put runs on the board and see how long I keep pitching well.”
The ability to put any pitch wherever he wants at any point in the count has been doing Maholm wonders as his starts keep building on one another.
“He’s been coming out with all four pitches every night,” manager Dale Sveum said. “He’s staying with the game plan, he’s not shaking off, he’s not doing anything that he shouldn’t be doing. He’s making all the pitches and getting ground-ball double plays and strikeouts. He’s really prepared and doing obviously a great job. It’s something you don’t see too often after five or six starts.”
Don’t count on it said Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum, whose starters Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Paul Maholm all have been mentioned in possible trade-deadline deals.
Maholm will start Tuesday against the Pirates and his next outing is also in line to take place against his former team at Wrigley Field next week.
With the Pirates in contention in their division for a second consecutive July, they might want to bolster their pitching staff with a pitcher they know inside and out. Maholm was a first-round pick by the Pirates in 2003 and spent seven big-league seasons with them.
“There are rumors and we’ll see how it turns out,” Maholm said. “It should be an interesting few days or whatever we’ve got [until the July 31 deadline.]”
The Pirates’ intimate knowledge of Maholm and the fact they will see plenty of him over the last week could make this an easy trade to swing.
“I don’t think they have to send scouts out to see me,” Maholm said. “Nothing has really changed from the time they drafted me until now. I’m going to enjoy it and enjoy competing against the guys tomorrow.”
Maholm was again on target for the Cubs on Thursday, pitching eight innings of one-run ball to best Mark Buehrle and the Florida Marlins. Maholm is 4-0 with an 0.89 ERA in his past five starts dating back to June 29.
“I watched Buehrle during his career,” Maholm said. “You work fast and keep the ball down and put your defense to work and they make plays. I am all about trying to get (the game) over with quick.”
Although the Cubs have won 14 of their past 19 games, it will not prevent the team’s front office from trading players like Maholm. The Cubs are looking for an abundance of young talent as the July 31 trade deadline nears. Maholm and his teammates are aware scouts are watching all of the team’s games.
“Being around for a while, you know the trading deadline is coming, and if your name is out there, obviously somebody wants you,” Maholm said. “That’s not a terrible (thing). I signed to play and win here, but whatever happens in the next 10 or 12 days, I think everyone is professional enough to deal with it.”
Maholm, Ryan Dempster (Friday) and Matt Garza (Saturday) have been lined up to pitch in succession, so that scouts can get a good look at what the team has to offer over a three-game period. The Detroit Tigers, for instance, have had a scout watching Dempster and Garza over their past three starts, but then he takes off to watch other quality starters who may be available via trade in between.
“When I was in Pittsburgh, you saw a lot of guys come and go,” said Maholm. “You just do your work and prepare, and whatever guys you got there that day, you go out and expect to win.”
The Pirates, Maholm’s former team, and Kansas City have interest in the crafty pitcher, according to major league sources.
Even with all the trade rumors floating around, the Cubs are trying to stay focused on the field.
“We have been having fun right now, but now we have to worry about who will go or who will stay,” said Alfonso Soriano. “We just take it one day at a time and focus on that day.”
CHICAGO -- Here’s a quick look at the Cubs’ 4-2 victory over the Miami Marlins on Thursday:
HOW IT HAPPENED: The Cubs beat former White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle, who was making his return to Chicago after signing with the Marlins in the offseason. Buehrle gave up a leadoff home run to Alfonso Soriano in the fifth inning, and the Cubs put up three more in the frame with Luis Valbuena hitting a sacrifice fly and Reed Johnson driving in two with a two-out single. Paul Maholm, who has been overlooked in recent trade rumors, cruised through eight innings, allowing five hits and one earned run to go along with four strikeouts and one walk. Maholm has allowed three earned runs over his past three starts, all victories. Carlos Marmol worked the ninth for his 11th save.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Cubs have won three straight series and 14 of their past 19 games … Going back to June 25, the Cubs are 5-0-1 in their last 6 series … Maholm is 4 -0 in his last five starts … Soriano’s home run was his 150th as a Cub. He is only the 13th Cub to have at least 150 in team history.
OUTSIDE THE BOX: The rumors continue to swirl around the Cubs as 12-15 scouts will follow the team to St. Louis to watch Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza pitch this weekend. Dempster said he has not been told about any imminent deal. ... Jorge Soler is scheduled to make his debut in the Arizona Fall League on Thursday night as the designated hitter for the club's Mesa affiliate.
UP NEXT:Dempster (5-3 ,1.86), who is riding a 33-inning scoreless streak makes what could be his final start with the Cubs against the Cardinals’ Kyle Lohse (9-2, 2.80) at 7:15 p.m. Friday.
CHICAGO -- The list of scouts in attendance at Chicago Cubs games continues to grow as baseball’s July 31 trade deadline approaches.
While many reports have the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves emerging at the leading contenders to land the services of Cubs starter Ryan Dempster, the St. Louis Cardinals, according to a major league source, have jumped into the picture in recent days. Dempster has 10-5 rights that allow him to block any trade. Dempster, that same source said, has not yet been asked if he would accept a particular deal.
President of baseball operations Theo Epstein has a very clear idea what the Cubs are looking for in exchange for any veterans they unload.