The top of Los Angeles Angels’ starting rotation is pretty much set, but there are a number of back-of-the-rotation options still available. With the Halos’ likely 2014 outcome being that of a mid-80s win total and another year of Mike Trout MVP snubbery, back-end arms would be a wise investment.
The Angels’ current five-man rotation consists of Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Garrett Richards, Hector Santiago, and Tyler Skaggs. Weaver and Wilson figure to be the top two arms in the rotation, and then it’s a race for third, with legitimate arguments for Richards, Santiago, and Skaggs. That’s not the worst three-to-five ever, but neither hurler logged over 150 innings last season, in the minors or majors.
In a perfect world, the Angels would have the budget or the assets to make a play for a top-flight starter. There’s going to be around $15 million of wiggle room for the Angels to play with while staying under the $189 million luxury tax threshold, and that tightness precluded the Angels from engaging in talks with Masahiro Tanaka, and apparently took them out of the race for Matt Garza. The top remaining free agent arms are Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez, both of whom come with price tags of a first round draft pick. So, the Halos are pretty much in the market for a back-end arm.
If the Angels could find the right arm at the right price, it could be a steal. With a one-year commitment to such a player, the Angels could see a small boost in the rotation and, should things go south, flip the player to the highest bidder for a mediocre prospect.
A back-end free agent would ideally bring to the table a track record of pitching a lot of innings and a lot of games. (So a guy like Joe Blanton! Just kidding.) There are a number of options available, and we’ll be running through them this week. Today, let’s discuss Paul Maholm…
Maholm was selected eighth overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2003 draft. He came up in 2005 and became a rotation cog in 2006. After six-plus seasons with the Pirates, Maholm signed a two-year, $11.25 million pact with the Cubs, who traded him to the Braves the following July.
In a nutshell, Maholm is a Jason Vargas that keeps the ball down in the zone more often. Maholm’s fastball works in the upper 80s and he mixes in an above average slider, average change-up, and usable curveball. He throws from a high slot and gets good plane on everything, and does a good job of hitting his targets.
In 2013, the left-hander posted a 4.41 ERA over 153 innings. That’s his lowest innings total since coming up, and it comes as a result of a wrist injury that Maholm sustained in July. Maholm was enjoying a much stronger season prior to July’s wrist injury, and his hiccups are believed to be behind him.
At 31, Maholm is still very much so a strong rotation option. He has a proven track record of back-end-ness (sp?) and has been able to stay healthy for a very long time. Maholm’s camp is likely holding out for a multi-year offer, and it may get such an offer after Santana and Jimenez reach deals. Going past one year for the left-hander seems like an overpay given the Angels’ situation, however.
Nonetheless, Maholm is one of the top options remaining for the hole the Angels need to fill.