Pittsburgh Pirates Come to Terms with Brian Burres: Could Paul Maholm Be Dealt?

Matt ShetlerCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2011

PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 23:  Brian Burres #71 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the St Louis Cardinals during the game on September 23, 2010 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Pirates today came to terms with left-hander Brian Burres on a new contract that will offer the southpaw a chance to compete for a job in the 2011 rotation.

The 29-year-old Burres, who was a mild surprise in 2010, was re-signed even though he was non-tendered last month.

Burres turned in his best year as a major leaguer for the Pirates last season, going 4-5 with a 4.99 ERA in 20 appearances (13 starts).

The signing of Burres provides the Pirates with depth, as Burres can also serve as a long man if needed.

The signing of another potential starting pitcher makes the potential 2011 starting rotation a crowded one.

Burres will compete with the likes of Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, Kevin Correia, James McDonald, Scott Olsen, Jeff Karstens, Brad Lincoln, Charlie Morton and Daniel McCutchen for the five open spots.

Maholm, Correia, McDonald and Ohlendorf are likely locks to begin the season in the rotation, but make no mistake about it, the Pirates need Lincoln and Morton to finally emerge.

The competition in spring training should be very interesting.  If one of the younger arms, or even a guy like Rudy Owens, surprise in March, then someone will have to be moved.

The likely candidate becomes Maholm, who has seen his name in trade rumors for the last couple of seasons.  Many teams would covet a lefty who has proved durable during his career, even though his numbers aren't that great.

It may make sense for Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington to pull the trigger on a deal involving Maholm if the right offer comes around.

While I've always like the way Maholm battles and competes on the hill, he is a guy that doesn't necessarily make the 2011 team much better.

The combination of Maholm's salary and what appears to be a crowded bunch of arms, likely could spell the end of his Pittsburgh Pirates career.