One day after adding veteran infielder Miguel Tejada, the first-place Padres are on a mission to add a starting pitcher and they're talking with the Pirates about acquiring left-hander Paul Maholm, a source with knowledge of the talks confirmed to CBSSports.com.
A handful of other clubs in search of pitching, including the Dodgers and Mets, are believed to be engaging the Pirates in talks as well. No deal appears close -- early Thursday evening, one source with knowledge of the talks described the Pirates-Padres conversations as "mild", while a second source described them as "less than mild."
The Padres lead the majors in pitching and are casting a wide net for another starter because they are concerned about running short during the stretch run. Youngsters Mat Latos and Wade LeBlanc each will be closing in on his career-high in professional innings pitched by September, and the Padres are watching that closely.
In a threadbare starting pitching market, Maholm is 6-9 with a 4.52 ERA in 21 starts for the Pirates this season, with 62 strikeouts and 45 walks in 125 1/3 innings.
One attractive facet of acquiring Maholm: He's signed through 2011, with a club option for 2012. He's due the pro-rated portion of his $4.5 million salary the rest of this summer and $5.75 million in 2011. The club option for 2012 is $9.75 million, or a $750,000 buyout.
As for the Pirates, one source with knowledge of their thinking says they are "not necessarily trading players to get young prospect back." In other words, the source said, their mission isn't to simply dump salary for three or four prospects. The Bucs are said to be looking for a major-league ready player in return -- either a player currently in the majors, or a high-level prospect.