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.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.