Like most good, high-payroll organizations, the Los Angeles Dodgers weren’t satisfied with just winning the National League West in 2013. General manager Ned Colletti has spent over $80 million this offseason in free agency and another $215 million to extend the team’s ace, Clayton Kershaw. Needless to say, the Dodgers are the favorites to win the NL West and arguably the pennant too.
But while Colletti is doing his job as general manager, one can’t say the same for the agent of recent Dodgers’ signee Paul Maholm. In an offseason where mediocre starting pitchers garnered multi-year contracts, Bo McKinnis was only able to net his client a one-year, $1.5 million deal.
On the surface, Maholm hardly put himself in a good free-agent position in 2013. The southpaw posted a mere 4.41 ERA (versus a park-adjusted 88 ERA+), 1.41 WHIP and 2.23 K/BB. Yet, over the past three seasons combined, the 31-year-old has either matched or bested many of the top earners this offseason.
Maholm’s struggles in 2013 also seemed to be a product of injury than talent. In July, the hurler endured a sprained left wrist, which grounded him for 29 games. Maholm also missed another 10 games in September due to left elbow inflammation.
But in the first half, when Maholm was healthy, the lefty’s production was in line with his three-year averages.
Maholm signing with the pitching-heavy Dodgers was perhaps McKinnis’ biggest misstep, however. It appears as though Maholm’s only chance of cracking the rotation is if Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley, who are recovering from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and Tommy John surgeries, respectively, aren’t ready to start the season. In fact, according to Los Angeles Times’ Dylan Hernandez, Maholm is even readying himself to pitch in relief.
Aside from the eventual Beckett and Billingsley competition, Maholm will also have to somehow circumvent top prospect Zach Lee’s inevitable debut too. Lee, who posted a 3.22 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 3.74 K/BB at Double-A in 2013, is posed to begin the season at Triple-A in 2014—and could be big-league ready by midseason.
Without a firm rotation job—and a comparatively slight 2014 salary to boot—Paul Maholm’s outlook for cashing in next offseason is bleak. Even if the left-hander’s latter-season injuries in 2013 contributed to his depressed free-agent value, Bo McKinnis’ inability to properly market his client was undoubtedly the true culprit in Maholm’s disappointing offseason.