Share This Page

Pirates cut ties with veteran pitcher Maholm

The Pirates and pitcher Paul Maholm are poised to part ways.

The Pirates have decided against picking up Maholm's $9.75 million contract option for 2012. That will trigger a $750,000 buyout and allow the left-hander to become a free agent for the first time.

"There are no guarantees, but I'm going to test (free agency) and see where it goes," Maholm said Wednesday.

He said the team told his agent it wouldn't pick up the option. "I'm not going to close any doors, but I want to see what's out there," Maholm said. "I owe that to my family to do what's best for them."

The Pirates do not have to make a final decision regarding Maholm's option until five days after the World Series. That is also when free agency begins. If the team changes course and decides to pick up the option, it could trade him, but it would be difficult to find a trading partner at that price.

General manager Neal Huntington said he is not surprised Maholm is eager to test free agency.

"Does it make sense for us to bring him back for $9.75 million• Probably not," Huntington said. "If Paul ends up getting more money than we're willing to pay, that's great for him."

The Pirates could bring back Maholm with a new contract. However, Maholm's agent, Bo McKinnis, has suspended talks with the club.

Maholm's departure would create a hole near the top of the starting rotation next season. Right-hander Brad Lincoln, who spent most of this year at Triple-A Indianapolis, could be the top candidate to replace Maholm.

"We'll explore the free-agent market, the trade market and compare it to what we have internally," Huntington said. "This will be a very, very weak free-agent market."

The list of available free-agent starting pitchers could include Mark Buehrle, Aaron Cook, Jeff Francis, Aaron Harang, Rich Harden and Carlos Silva.

A first-round draft pick in 2003, Maholm made 185 starts for the Pirates and went 53-73 with a 4.36 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP. This season, he went 6-14 with a 3.66 ERA before going on the 60-day disabled list because of a sore shoulder.

Maholm signed a three-year, $14.5 million contract before the 2009 season. A reliable innings-eater — this season marked the first time Maholm had gone on the major league DL — he was the staff's No. 2 starter this year behind right-hander Kevin Correia.

Note: The Pirates returned to their radio roots by announcing a four-year broadcast agreement with CBS Radio's KDKA-FM. The station was the Pirates' flagship from 1955-2006. Clear Channel Communications had the Pirates' broadcast rights the past five seasons. The new flagship station will be Sportsradio 93.7 FM The Fan, which will broadcast pre- and postgame shows as well as all regular-season games, at least 16 spring training games each year, and the weekly, in-season Neal Huntington Show. The broadcast crew — Greg Brown, Tim Neverett, Steve Blass, Bob Walk and John Wehner — will remain intact.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.