With just over a week until Opening Day, the Cincinnati Reds cut ties with one of the surprise performers of Spring Training on Monday. Veteran left-hander Paul Maholm, signed this winter as a minor league free agent, was sent packing, presumably to save some money after the two sides could not agree on a role for him. Now, Maholm must hope that a needy team will swoop in and pick him up for their rotation. [featured]
Maholm, who spent last season in a swing role with the Los Angeles Dodgers before ACL surgery shut him down in August, joined the Reds with hopes of securing one of their two or three open rotation spots created when Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon were traded this off-season, and by Homer Bailey’s absence as he, too, tries to return from surgery. Instead, those spots went to Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani and Jason Marquis.
That left Maholm fighting for a bullpen spot, a fate he was not happy to accept. So, the options were for him to land in the bullpen, be sent to the minors, or opt out of his contract later this week. If he stayed with the franchise and ended up in Triple-A, the Reds would have owed him a $100,000 bonus. With his intentions and prospects unclear, the Reds chose to release him rather than risk paying a bonus to an unhappy pitcher.
For his part, Maholm did about all he could this spring, posting a 1-0 record with a 2.19 ERA in 12 innings over five games. At 32, he may have some life left in his arm, but he might also be forced to accept a relief role until he can prove that his knee will hold up to a starter’s innings toll.
The upside for Maholm is that he might be able to land a Major League contract rather than the minor league deal he was working under Cincinnati, and that would give him a modicum of security as he works his way back toward the rotation.