Josh Beckett beats out Paul Maholm for fifth spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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The Dodgers signed lefty Paul Maholm to a one-year, $1.5 million deal in February, but they have no room for him in the starting rotation. Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times reports that the Dodgers have awarded that spot to right-hander Josh Beckett.

Neither Maholm nor Beckett pitched much during the spring and neither had remarkable results as well. Beckett had thoracic outlet surgery and suffered a relatively minor thumb injury during the spring, but there was doubt as to his ability to be ready to come off of the disabled list at his first point of eligibility on April 4. Manager Don Mattingly thinks Beckett will be ready:

“We feel like Josh will be ready to pitch,” Mattingly said. “He’s held up pretty good. He threw five innings the other night.

“We would prefer for him to be built up a little further, but if he absolutely had to pitch, we think he’s going to be a guy that by the time he’s eligible, could help us.”

The Dodgers will use Maholm out of the bullpen, it seems. According to J.P. Hoornstra, the Dodgers have listed him as a bullpen option on the lineup sheet in the clubhouse. However, if Clayton Kershaw has to miss more time with his back issue — ESPN’s Buster Olney says that Kershaw’s injury is the same as Jurickson Profar’s, and Profar will miss 10-12 weeks — then Maholm could return to the rotation.

Astros talking to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole about extensions

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It’s extension season and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros — who already agreed to an extension with Alex Bregman — are discussing contract extensions with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Funny thing about Verlander, by the way: when he got his current $180 million deal, most people fell into the “oh, there’s an overpay!” column. What’s more, this past winter, when everyone was talking about how bad it is to give guys big long term deals, Verlander’s name was notably absent in the conversation despite the fact that his deal has turned out to be quite good. I suppose that says something about how good the anti-long-term deal folks are at cherrypicking.

That being said, Rosenthal says “it would be an upset” if either Verlander or Cole signed extensions. I can see that. Verlander is still locked up, thanks to a team option that will almost certainly be exercised, through 2020, and Cole is a Scott Boras client and Boras clients tend to hit the market rather than sign extensions. Perhaps their former teammate, Dallas Keuchel‘s, terrible experience on the free agent market this winter will alter that calculus. Hard to say.