Source: Cubs talking to Paul Maholm

Having decided the bidding was too rich for top left-handed free agents Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson, the Cubs and agent Bo McKinnis have been negotiating the parameters of a deal that would bring left-handed starter Paul Maholm to Chicago next season, a major league source indicated.

Maholm made $6.25 million in 2011, the final season of $13.75 million deal he inked with the Pittsburgh Pirates prior to the 2009 season. He was a combined 53-73 with a 4.36 ERA during his seven seasons in Pittsburgh.

Although Maholm was 6-14 in 2011, the lefty posted a very respectable 3.66 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. Maholm is a sinker-ball pitcher who has allowed 0.818 home runs per nine innings pitched in his career. That figure is 16th best among active National League pitchers. This is a key number if Maholm were to pitch in the, at times, home-run friendly power allies of Wrigley Field.

The Cubs have been searching for a reliable left-handed starter since trading Ted Lilly to the Dodgers in July 2010.

Another major league source told ESPNChicago.com that "getting the money right," will be the key to Maholm signing with the Cubs.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com.