I'd like to take this moment in time to update something that I wrote yesterday.
Pirates pitcher, Paul Maholm, is probably going to be a free agent soon. I examined his value in a trade yesterday, and determined that it's pretty tough to justify any team going out there and trading something useful for him, just to exercise an option that is kind of pricey. Like I said, part of being a GM is trying to squeeze every bit of value from the cash you spend. Maholm isn't exactly a stud out there, but he's not bad by any stretch, which just kind of sours me at the thought of paying him $10MM for a season. Having said that, it does appear that the Pirates are going to decline the option, if we read between the lines when we hear that the Pirates are in the market for starting pitching.
Now, what I wrote yesterday was mostly from the perspective of the Jays, who are rumored to be looking for a front-mid rotation guy. Something I didn't really consider, and this was kind of shortsighted of me, is the fact that the Pirates have a commodity, albeit at a price that is risky as shit. I went through some options yesterday that the Pirates have regarding Maholm, and figured that they'd exercise and trade him, either now or mid-season. But after thinking about it, if they decline this god damn option, as that article sort of suggests (near the bottom), I might lose my fucking mind.
First, you say that you're looking for starting pitching. Okay, you can never have enough pitching, that's cool. Charlie Morton, while not that good, is still one of your top-5 starters, and is hurt until at least the start of the regular season, which creates a hole right there, a hole that you can fill with one of your own starters that you didn't appear to want.
Second, after CJ Wilson, there are no lefty starting pitchers available*. Maholm, as a lefty, is just more valuable to a team than a right-handed pitcher of similar skillsets. SOMEONE WILL GIVE YOU SOMETHING FOR HIM. Even if you have to keep him for a month or two, or eat some cash, somebody will give you something useful.
Third, he might end up being worth the contract. He's not a bad pitcher. All you need is 2 WAR-- even less if you trade him. Eat some cash (and fuck knows that Pittsburgh has some money stashed away-- payroll is at like $42MM) and you could even get a nice prospect.
I'll admit, when I wrote what I wrote last night, I was thinking that there wasn't a ton of value associated with Maholm, since his contract is so close to his actual worth, it would be risky for anybody, let alone anybody who's going to give up anything to get him. But there is fuck all available on the free agent market, and not much else on the trade market. I still think it's pretty dumb to leak out a remote possibility of declining the option, but this might work out. Enough teams out there are looking for pitching, and many of them don't want to dish out 5/85 for CJ, or christ knows what for CC and Darvish. On any decent team, Maholm is a 3rd starter-- and that might actually be enough in this market to throw something useful.
The big problem-- nobody is going to give up starting pitching to get Maholm. At least not yet. Nobody's desperate enough. Come July, someone will be desperate enough to give up something for half a season of Maholm, and the market will be way, way better. But if they want to find starting pitching, especially today, when people are hoarding young starters, you're going to have to give up one of those position player prospects to get starting pitching.
The Pirates have a bunch of hotshot starting pitching prospects that should be in the bigs by 2014, and they might not be ready to contend until then anyway-- if this is about money, exercise the option or trade his rights, and maybe sign Dana Eveland or Jojo Reyes to mop up some innings. If this is about Maholm not being good enough to be on a team that is supposedly ready to contend... I'm not sure what more you're looking for.
*- Assuming CC re-ups with the Yankees. Even if he doesn't, there's a small number of teams who are going to be able to offer CC the money he wants.