According to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Red Sox are among three or four teams interested in Paul Maholm. Maholm is a run of the mill left handed starter who most recently posted a 3.66 ERA for the Pirates in 2011. I’m not even going to get into his win-loss record. It was that hideous. More importantly, a pitcher’s record is largely based on run support, and the team’s ability to win ballgames. The Bucs said “no thanks” to his 9.75 million dollar option and bought out the 29 year old for three quarters of a million dollars, making him a free agent. There hasn’t been any word on exactly what Maholm and his agent are seeking in terms of years and dollars in 2012.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported yesterday that Ben Cherington will be looking to add multiple “low cost” starting pitchers in the offseason in order to create a competition in spring training. Whether Maholm represents a low cost option remains to be seen. I believe that Maholm will seek a multiyear deal or at least a year and an option. It is reasonable to think that Maholm will look for a little bit less than Joe Saunders who is seeking a three year deal. If the price is right, the Red Sox will certainly be in the thick of things for Maholm.
Because the people in baseball operations for the Red Sox aren’t stupid, I am sure that they are using Adrian Beltre as a selling point when attacking the free agent market. Sure, a lot of the available starting pitchers will be able to obtain a multiyear deal from some team out there, but it could ultimately be more profitable for a free agent to sign a one year deal with the Sox, perform well on in a big market, and cash in next year. Conversely, because the Red Sox do not want to breach the luxury tax threshold, they may be forced to sign a pitcher like Maholm to a two or three year deal, providing job security at a reduced annually salary. You don’t need to be Billy Beane to see the effects of signing players like Carl Crawford and John Lackey to giant contracts that last a lifetime.
There is no doubt that the Red Sox are going to have to bring in a starting pitcher or three and spend some money in the process. As a fan, the hope is that the Sox get lucky and catch lightning in a bottle. It can be done. The Yankees hit blackjack twice last year with Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon. The key is to approach prospective starters like lottery tickets: The more you have in your pocket, the better chance you have to win. Unless the Sox pony up the dollars to pluck Roy Oswalt off the market for a one year deal, I would rather collect as many Carlos Silva’s as possible and create a competitive atmosphere in spring training.
Maholm may be part of the solution, but before the Red Sox hand out multiyear deals to extremely pedestrian pitchers, they should be asking themselves the following question: How much better is this guy than Andrew Miller?