David Todd at Bucs Dugout notes that Pirates president Frank Coonelly recently said on the radio that the team is "unlikely" to accept Paul Maholm's $9.75 million option for 2012, meaning it appears the Pirates will pay him a $750,000 buyout.â†µ
I think this is a mistake, and it bodes poorly for the Pirates' 2012 season. It was recently reported that fellow Bucs starting pitcher Charlie Morton had hip surgery earlier this week, which will take him out of action for several months. That means he could be unavailable or ineffective at the beginning of the season. The Pirates need starting pitching help right now, and Maholm could have provided it on what would effectively have been a one-year deal at a reasonable price. The Bucs are now in the awkward position of having to sign a pitcher on the free agent market (which is difficult, because no one wants to play for the Pirates and because good pitchers require multi-year commitments), make a trade, or go with what they have. The last option would ensure plenty of starts by Kevin Correia, Brad Lincoln, and other potentially-dubious options.