By John Perrotto
If the Pirates do trade Paul Maholm to the Dodgers, who have interest in the left-hander to bolster their starting rotation, it will likely only happen after a complicated series of talks, according to sources from both clubs.
The Pirates would prefer not to deal Maholm for two reasons, one being that he has been their best starter this season as he is 6-7 with a 4.03 ERA in 19 games after shutting out the Houston Astros on Sunday. The other reason is that they are wary of trading away one of the more stabilizing presences in a clubhouse filled with young players.
The Pirates will only trade Maholm if they can get a significant return, such as left-hander James McDonald and Class AA shortstop Dee Gordon. However, the Dodgers are strapped for cash as owners Frank and Jamie McCourt go through divorce proceedings, and will only give up a top prospect like Gordon if the Pirates provide financial relief, even though Maholm is signed to a relatively inexpensive contract.
Maholm is in the second year of a three-year, $14.5 million deal that pays him $4.5 million this season, $5.75 million next season and includes a club option for $9.75 million in 2012 that can be bought out for $750,000.
Gordon is very intriguing to the Pirates, who do not have a clear-cut long-term answer at shortstop now that Chase d’Arnaud has struggled this season at Class AA Altoona. Gordon, 22, is hitting .280 with two home runs, 28 RBIs and 36 stolen bases in 89 games with Jacksonville. He is the son of former major-league pitcher Tom “Flash” Gordon.
Meanwhile, Pirates closer Octavio Dotel and left-handed relief specialist Javier Lopez are also drawing trade interest.
The Yankees and Tigers have both asked about Dotel as both teams need set-up help with Joba Chamberlain struggling for New York and Joel Zumaya out for the season for Detroit with an elbow injury.
The Boston Red Sox are interested in reuniting with Lopez, who pitched for them from 2006-09, though their primary left-handed relief target on the trade market is the Scott Downs of the Toronto Blue Jays.
— John Perrotto is the editor-in-chief of BaseballProspectus.com and the baseball columnist at the Beaver County Times.