The Rangers have checked in with free agent Paul Maholm

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Free agent lefty Paul Maholm has drawn a lot less interest than expected, perhaps due to a rough second half of the 2013 season. Maholm, now 31 years old, finished with a 4.41 ERA after back-to-back sub-3.70 ERA seasons with the Pirates in 2011 and the Cubs and Braves in 2012. One would think it would be easy to make some room for him at the back of just about any starting rotation, yet he remains freely and cheaply available.

The Rangers, scrambling for a replacement for lefty Derek Holland after he suffered a knee injury which required surgery, have checked in Maholm recently, reports ESPN’s Jim Bowden. Previous reports have indicated that the Rangers prefer to stay in-house when it comes to replacing Holland, so this may be nothing more than tire-kicking.

Maholm was fantastic in the first half of 2013 for the Braves, posting a 3.69 ERA through the end of June. After three mediocre starts in July, Maholm missed a month on the disabled list with a sprained wrist. He was slightly better upon his return, but wound up missing more time in September with inflammation in his left elbow.

Johnny Cueto expected to opt-out of his deal after the season

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Johnny Cueto signed a six-year $130 million deal with the Giants prior to the 2016 season. In his first season he went 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA and 198 strikeouts in 219.2 innings, helping lead the Giants to the playoffs. This season has been rocky for Cueto — he’s got a a 4.42 ERA in 15 starts and has battled blisters — but they’ve been far rockier for the Giants overall, as they sit in last place in the NL West and have the second worst record in baseball.

Many suspect that the Giants will either rebuild or, at the very least, restructure some in response to this nightmare year. If so, they’re likely going to be doing it with Cueto, who Jon Heyman reports is going to opt-out of his deal:

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto is planning to opt out of his contract at the end of the year, but he would listen to any extension offer . . . Cueto has $84 million to go over four years. It would probably take an injury or major slump for Cueto not to opt out. But it makes sense that he will.

Heyman says the Giants are not inclined to give him an extension, so expect to see Cueto on the free agent market three days after the World Series ends, which is the deadline for him to exercise his opt-out rights.

The Dodgers are concerned about Julio Urias’ shoulder

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Things are going great for the Dodgers lately. They’ve won seven consecutive games and 13 of their last 14. They lead the National League in wins and are in first place in, arguably, the best division in baseball.

But there are a lot of moving parts on a baseball team, and even when some things are going great, other things can go not-so-great. Like this:

Urias has been diagnosed with shoulder inflammation and shut down indefinitely. An MRI last week showed no structural damage, but his shoulder is still bothering him. He has not pitched in the bigs since late May, when he allowed seven runs in less than three innings against the Miami Marlins. He was sent down after that and went 3-0 with a 3.12 ERA, six walks and 17 strikeouts in 17.1 innings pitched in three starts with Oklahoma City before being shelved.