That is not to say the team won’t still be making plays for bigger names, but, for now, they’re content to go after guys like David DeJesus, Ian Stewart, and … Paul Maholm.
The Cubs are currently negotiating with the free agent lefty, formerly of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Maholm, 29, is coming off a solid, if unspectacular season, which saw him put up a 3.66 ERA and 1.294 WHIP in 162.1 innings. His 105 ERA+, only the second above-average full season in his career, suggests he was only marginally better than OK, though. On the right contract – read: cheap – Maholm could be a fine back-end of the rotation type, especially if he’s paired with an improved defensive infield (he’s a ground ball pitcher who doesn’t strike too many out).
The rub with Maholm?
He pitched only 162.1 innings last year because his year ended early with a shoulder strain (though Dr. James Andrews found no serious structural damage). He was cleared for workouts in late October, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be as effective when he returns next year.
If the Cubs do ink Maholm, it’s hard to picture him as someone they can count on for more than depth given his erratic performance and shoulder trouble. At best, a Maholm signing would fall into the same categories as the DeJesus signing and the Stewart trade: fine, but nothing exciting. And judgement would be more fully-reserved until the rest of the offseason plays out.