Paul Maholm

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.

Report: Dodgers could pursue three-year deal with Rich Hill

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Rich Hill #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs in game three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.

Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.

The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.

Yankees in, Red Sox out on Edwin Encarnacion

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19:  Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on against the Cleveland Indians during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler AustinGreg Bird combo in 2017.

The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.

Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.