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Examining the Cincinnati Reds signing of Paul Maholm

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Whenever the Cincinnati Reds ink a player to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training, you probably glance at the screen, yawn, and then continue on with your day. Snagging these low-risk, high-reward type players isn’t always sexy, but it’s what the Reds need to do to help build themselves back into contenders.

While 114.4 million Americans were taking in the Super Bowl on Sunday night, the Reds were busy fine-tuning the roster. The club signed left-handed reliever (but once a starter) Paul Maholm to a deal that guaranteed him a right to earn a spot on the team out of Spring Training.

The deal failed to make major waves due to the fact that despite having a 10-year career up to this point, Maholm hasn’t been an exceptional pitcher at any stop. He’s played in the National League all these years, spending seven of them with the Pittsburgh Pirates. You more than likely remember him coming up alongside another former Reds left-hander, Zach Duke, in the starting rotation that was supposed to jumpstart the Pirates a decade ago.

His numbers last season as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers were not awe-inspiring, to say the least. He would make eight starts, figuring to potentially be the number five man in what was a loaded rotation, but that plan was scrapped halfway through May. Maholm would toss 70.2 innings on the year, allowing 84 hits and 38 earned runs in that span, while striking out just 34 and walking 28.

He’s coming off ACL surgery that ended his year in August 2014.

BaseballReference.com estimates that he has already pulled in excess of $27 million over his playing career, so although he’s heading into just his age 33 season, he still has a lot to pitch for.

Inking Maholm makes a world of sense due to the omnipresent state of Sean Marshall and his shoulder. Although Manny Parra will be heading north with the team come April, if he can’t perform once there, the team may not hesitate to move in another direction. Both manager Bryan Price and general manager Walt Jocketty have made it known that they love having multiple left-handed options to use late in the game.

Other depth includes Ryan Dennick and Jose Mijares, but Dennick lacks experience, and Mijares lacks the track record Maholm brings to the table.

Much in the same way that the Redlegs snagged Alfredo Simon off the scrap heap prior to 2012, they have tried the same method with Maholm here in 2015. If both Parra and Marshall can do the job as left-handers at the backend, he has ample starting experience, which would make him multi-faceted, and well suited to be the long man/emergency starter.

The signing of Maholm may have gone under the national radar, but if he can deliver and resurrect his career, it will be difficult to keep his story quiet for long.

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