Some team is going to want Paul Maholm, too

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Ryan Dempster is a human trade rumor and Matt Garza figures to be a popular topic at the deadline as well, but the Cubs may not be done from there; Paul Maholm should intrigue contenders as well.

Look at what he’s done in his last four starts:

June 29: 8 1/3 IP, 0 R, 6/1 K/BB in win over Houston
July 4: 6 IP, 1 R, 5/1 K/BB in win over Atlanta
July 13: 7 IP, 1 R, 5/1 K/BB in win over Arizona
July 19: 8 IP, 1 R, 4/1 K/BB in win over Miami

Three runs in 29 1/3 innings has lowered Maholm’s ERA to 4.09. He has a nifty 1.29 WHIP, and he’s allowed a modest 11 homers in 105 2/3 innings.

Coming off a shoulder strain, no one thought Maholm was worthy of a multiyear deal last winter after the Pirates cut him loose. The Cubs signed the left-hander for $4.75 million with a $6.5 million option for 2013 that appears very likely to be exercised, whether it’s by the Cubs or the team that trades for him.

The Cubs will be more likely to keep Maholm if they trade Garza, but if they can get a replacement capable of stepping right into the rotation, they shouldn’t be afraid to make the move.  While it’s probably a good idea for most non-contenders to have a couple of vets around to eat innings, the Cubs can get through August and September without him and then go looking for the next Maholm in December.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.