According to multiple sources, the Pirates are close to a contract extension with Ryan Doumit. Some sources believe the signing could happen before Christmas.
Talks with Maholm are preliminary at this time.
Talks with McLouth are not as promising, but they are not dead either.
While I like Doumit, there really is no surprise he would want to lock down some figures for the rest of his arbitration years. Considering his injury history, I would not be surprised if a deal is worked out into 2012, his potential first free agency year. I am sure Ryan would welcome a steady paycheck.
I expect Maholm to follow a similar path as negotiations progress. With the volatility and injury risk of the position, any pitcher would be wise to take a guaranteed deal through their arbitration years.
As for McLouth, I don't see a deal getting done this Winter. A signing is a possibility during spring, but not during Hot Stove Season. Considering he won a Gold Glove and made the All-Star team, the squabbling will likely be over bonus money and rewarding him for a wonderful 2008 season. The Pirates are looking at McLouth to leadoff in 2009 while McLouth is looking at the numbers he put up in 2008 and wants to be paid accordingly. This will be a slow process that could become volatile if McLouth is forced into batting leadoff the entire 2009 season, potentially affecting his offensive numbers especially RBI's. Nate will want the money a 100 RBI guy gets. A deal will likely happen before the season to protect the Pirates if Nate slides backs down to a middle of the order into an RBI producer position and to protect Nate if he is forced to stay in a leadoff position limiting his RBI potential.