Every fan wants their General Manager to pull off the greatest heist in baseball history. The John Schuerholz-Fred McGriff trade. Milt Pappas for Frank Robinson. Any time Billy Beane called Steve Phillips. While the Paul Maholm deal probably won’t ever be mentioned in that category, it is a great example of how Frank Wren is doing a pretty good job.
This past July as the trade deadline was looming, it was apparent to everyone that the Braves were looking for another starter. At the time there were three “big” names on the market: Zack Greinke, Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza.
A few days before the deadline, it looked like Wren was ready to send Randall Delgado to the Chicago Cubs for Ryan Dempster. Allegedly, Dempster didn’t like how the process was going down and used his 10/5 rights to veto the deal. Around the same time Greinke went to the Angles and Garza went on the DL.
Vizcaino has a big time arm, but will be coming off of Tommy John. He actually could turn out to be a pretty good pitcher, but it may be several years before he is able to contribute at a high level. Many people projected the Braves to use him out of the pen, but it appears the Cubs will use him as a starter. Chapman saw action with the Cubs this season and put up some nice numbers in limited relief work.
Maholm was a great pick up for the Braves. He posted a 3.54 ERA in 68 2/3 innings while striking out 50. His WHIP was 1.194. Actually, his numbers were very similar to what Greinke put up with the Angels and much better than Dempster. Plus, he cost much less than either.
Greinke: 3.53 ERA, 1.187 WHIP
Ryan Dempster: 5.09 ERA, 1.435 WHIP, and really sucked in the big games.
Maholm has a $6,500,000 option which the Braves will pick up the first chance they get. He will probably start the season in the four slot in the rotation.
The Pirates took Malholm with the eighth pick in the 2003 draft out of Mississippi State. He made his big league debut for the Pirates in 2005 and pitched with them for parts of seven seasons. Of those seven seasons he wasn’t first-round pick good and seemed to have control issues.
It looked like he was starting to right the ship in 2011, but the Bucs let him walk the plank (see what I did there?). He put up similar numbers this season and may have figured out the whole control thing. If he continues to put up solid numbers, someone will pay him $9-12 million a year. That being said, I would imagine 2013 will be his last season in Atlanta.
In reality, Malholm is a solid number three/very good number four. He gives you a chance to win every time he starts.
Overall, Wren flipped a guy that probably wouldn’t be ready to be a big contributor until mid 2013-probably 2014, for a solid left-handed, cost-controlled starter that is helping the team now.