Maholm, 29, becomes the third substantial starting pitching acquisition of the new Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein regime, and could open the door to another, as his arrival may make Matt Garza more available in trade.
This is a brilliant move by the Cubs, a bargain-bin signing of a pitcher with elite ground-ball skills (he ranks among the top 10 percent of qualifying hurlers in ground-ball rate since 2008, just ahead of Roy Halladay).
He is left-handed, a priority under Epstein and Hoyer as they look to slow down left-handed batters at Wrigley Field. Lefties hit 19 percent more home runs than average at Wrigley last season, as opposed to four percent better than average from the right side.
Maholm also will pitch before an improved defensive infield in 2012, which should make him more effective. Ultimately, perhaps his greatest contribution will be to facilitate the Garza deal that seems critical to the completion of the front office's winter goals to initiate rebuilding efforts.
Here are five more deals that the Cubs' front office will try to get done before Opening Day, in order to finish what they have now begun.