Rangers Swap Millwood For Ray

The Rangers managed to get themselves out of Kevin Millwood‘s 12 million dollar contract on Wednesday, trading the starting pitcher along with 3 million dollars to the Baltimore Orioles for reliever Chris Ray and a PTBNL.

2009 was a banner year for Millwood, as his 3.67 ERA was his best mark since his last year of his original contract with Atlanta in 2002. However, as we often see, Millwood’s ERA didn’t showcase his true talent level. Millwood only struck out 5.5 batters per 9 innings, and he walked over 3. He simply wasn’t the type of dominant pitcher who should end the season with a sub-4.00 ERA. Only his .279 BABIP (vs. a career mark of .306) kept his ERA at such a low level. His sub-par peripherals resulted in a 4.80 FIP.

In 200 innings, the value of a 4.80 FIP comes out to 2.4 wins. So Millwood was a productive pitcher last year and he certainly can be a productive pitcher in the future. There aren’t very many 2.4 win players out there, and Millwood may be due for a better year, as his 2007 and 2008 years were better than his 2009. On the other hand, Millwood is aging, and it’s possible that he’s entered his decline phase and his innings may slip and his peripherals may fall farther.

Essentially, there are clearly better ways to spend 7-8 million dollars (roughly the difference between Ray’s salary and the 12 million cleared by Millwood’s departure). The Rangers signed Rich Harden to a 7.5 million dollar deal, and he has produced 3.9 wins or better 3 times. This is a great example of what a team can do with cleared salary, and so this trade is already paying dividends for Texas.

The return of Chris Ray is negligible. He is arbitration eligible, but due to his 7.27 ERA, he will likely see a similar contract to the 0.85M he received, if not lower, if he is even tendered a contract. He missed all of 2008, and has only thrown more than 45 innings in a season once. Ray has never shown the ability to either limit walks or home runs enough to become a truly productive pitcher. He will be a reclamation project for Mike Maddux at best, and probably will not be a factor.

For the Orioles, they receive a roughly average starting pitcher. As a one year commitment, 9 million dollars isn’t egregious. It will be probably be near his market value. With the Orioles not in a position to compete, taking on that kind of salary doesn’t really make sense. This kind of money could be much better spent on international signings, draft picks, or other developmental type of projects. He will give them decent production, but is the marginal value of his 2-3 wins above replacement really worth 9 million dollars to them? I’m not sure.

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33 Responses to “Rangers Swap Millwood For Ray”

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  1. Adam says:

    Rangers also get a PTBNL

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  2. Vuff says:

    Isn’t his contract $12 million, which means the O’s are paying $9 million? I’m not sure that makes much of a difference in your analysis, but…

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  3. Matt Walsh says:

    If you’re going to write an article talking about why this trade doesn’t make sense for the Orioles, you might want to get Millwood’s salary right, no? Just seems like it would give you more credibility.

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  4. Lincoln says:

    Millwood led the AL in ERA in 2005 with Cleveland

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  5. Matty Brown says:

    Agreed. I don’t understand why the O’s took on that capital, unless they are hoping for Millwood to start the season strong and flip him at the deadline.

    We all know how desperate and blind teams can become when they are in the hunt. Millwood would still be attractive to those gm’s who value a workhorse with a superficially low Era.

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  6. WY says:

    Millwood is getting $12 million, not $15 million. This is very clearly stated at Cot’s Contracts (http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2005/01/texas-rangers.html).

    $12 million – $3 million = $9 million.

    I agree with the above commenter. If you are going to go and criticize the Orioles like this for paying too much money to Millwood, you should at least get the contract figures correct.

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    • CM says:

      Seems to me the point that is being missed here is that the Orioles are looking for someone who stays healthy and eats innings to keep the heat off of all of their young pitchers. In that case, Millwood is a better fit for them than Harden.

      If the Orioles are going to compete, those young arms have to be protected and pan out. This is a nice deal for the Orioles.

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      • Tito Landrum says:

        Agreed. You know what you are going to get out of Millwood. If both Guthrie and Millwood can pitch 200 innings it could take a great deal of pressure off Matusz, Tillman and Bergeson as well as a bullpen that could be taxed due to those three.

        So, I suspect, that had much to do with wanting Millwood in town. However, FWIW, the O’s are also making noise about bringing Bedard back to Baltimore…

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    • Ezra says:

      Ray’s salary = $.85M

      $9M-$.85M ~ $8M, as the author stated.

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      • WY says:

        He changed it. It originally had Millwood’s salary as 15 million, with the Orioles paying 12. The writers can change their articles and make it look like nothing was ever wrong, but the commenters can’t change their comments.

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      • WY says:

        It’s a little funny to see the “12”s replaced with “9”s everywhere. Maybe the basic argument is the same, but we’re talking about a difference of either 25% or 33% (depending on which way you’re going — from 12 to 9 or 9 to 12). That’s a pretty sizable difference. So is $3 million in raw dollars. Oh well.

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  7. Johnisgone says:

    What about Type A or B free agent status next year? Does Millwood stand a chance of achieving either? Granted, even if he did do enough to warrant such status he probably won’t due enough to get a salary offer above $12 million in 2011 so the Orioles would probably not offer arbitration either way. Just saying it could play into the strategy of getting him.

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    • Mystlyfe says:

      Given his 2009 season, he’s all but a lock for at least Type B status. If he puts up those kind of numbers again, he could push for Type A.

      I bet the O’s do offer him arbitration (if he’s still an Oriole), given that he’s unlikely to take it anyway (he will likely want to test the free agent market to play for a contender). If he’s a Type A, the Orioles might even legitimately want him back on their roster given his productivity.

      The O’s could flip him at the deadline instead. Especially if they also resign Bedard. If they sign Bedard, expect Tillman or Matusz to start the season in AAA or the bullpen, then get promoted when Millwood and/or Guthrie are traded away. Even if they don’t sign Bedard, a similar move could be pulled with Arrieta filling in for a traded starter.

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  8. Mike Green says:

    Millwood does two things for the O’s. If two of the young pitchers burst out (a possibility but you obviously wouldn’t want to bet on it), he makes a decent 3-4 starter on a surprise contending club. If not, the O’s can safely keep Tillman and Arrieta in triple A for another year.

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  9. Matt J. says:

    I think the move makes sense for the Orioles. Millwood has value in his ability to soak up 180+ innings for a team going into the season with a very young rotation. The size of the contract is mitigated by the fact that the they’ve shed some large contracts in the last two offseasons. I’ll take the bulk innings starter over the injury prone reliever any day.

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  10. Matt Walsh says:

    I’m a little confused by your analysis. You state: “[Millwood] will give them decent production, but is the marginal value of his 2-3 wins above replacement really worth 9 million dollars to them? I’m not sure.” Why would a team, playoff contender or not, be unwilling to pay 9 million for a player 2-3 wins above replacement? According to Cameron a WAR on the free agent market in 08 was worth 4.5 million, if 2009 fit on the trend line it would have come in at 4.8 or 4.9 for a WAR. So why is 9 million to pricey for Millwood?

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  11. JollyRoger says:

    Writer’s has serious credibility issues by not acknowledging the salary figures he altered.

    Had he review Andy Macphail press conference he might have a better clue.

    Instead we are treated with an article littered with errors and void of sound analysis.

    Below is an excerpt from Andy’s p.c.

    [1] On not making an injured pitcher the first acquisition:
    “I don’t think the first move we could make to improve our rotation would be somebody that really had some medical concerns and took a higher than customary risk on the medicals. You needed somebody that you felt was going to be pretty solid and provide you that base of innings. Now, we have some latitude to take a flyer.”

    [2] On whether Kevin Millwood is the No. 1 starter:
    “For us, it’s likely that he’s going to be the first starter and we think it’s going to have a positive cascading effect on Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen, Chris Tillman, David Hernandez, and Jason Berken.”

    [3] On whether this relieves some pressure on Jeremy Guthrie:
    “We hope so. Now, the matchups aren’t going to be against everybody else’s number ones. Things can sort of ratchet down. This doesn’t close us out from looking for additional pitching. Really, Jeremy did a nice job for us in 2008 in that role. He probably did a better job than we had the right to expect. I think this will help him get back to that 2008-type year. There were a lot of clubs that were interested in Jeremy Guthrie, trying to buy low. But again, those are 200 innings we need as well.”

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  12. BX says:

    Not blowing out the arms of Matsuz, Bergesen, Tillman, Hernandez, and Berken IS worth a good portion of that 9MM though.

    I like it for the O’s.

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  13. Joe R says:

    I’m surprised that Millwood’s actually performed to this contract.

    pre-2006: $0 value, $15 mil signing bonus
    2006: $18.9, $7.9
    2007: $10.9, $9.8
    2008: $15.0, $10.4
    2009: $10.9, $11
    off-season: $0, $3 mil given in trade

    Pretty much what they paid for.

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  14. Casadilla says:

    Millwood fills the same role for the O’s in 2010 that he filled in ’09 for the Rangers. Imagine the Rangers without Millwood last year: their playoff hunting is suddenly less plausible. Not to say that the O’s will be in the playoff hunt because of Millwood, but he provides consistent and dependable innings, at great relief to the rest of the rotation and bullpen.

    I say this is a win-win situation for the teams: Rangers are relieved of Millwood’s salary and freed to spend on something high risk/high reward (e.g. Harden, Dye, etc.), O’s get 1 year of a reliable starter who likely provides 170IP and better results than Adam Eaton, and now don’t have to make a move like the Braves in ’08 and sign Derek Lowe to a ridiculous 4 year deal.

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  15. OsandRoyals says:

    The reason why the Orioles overpaid by a bit is because there aren’t too many free-agent pitchers (non-injured variety) that will perform near the league average in the AL East and could be enticed to a 1-year deal with Baltimore.
    It’s probably a little pricey of a deal throwing in prospects as well but if the PTBNL is a rule V pick, the Os are full up on roster space so that’s not giving up anything of value.

    Oh and to BX there’s no way the Orioles would let their starting pitchers blow out there arms. They have all their pitchers on an extremely conservative season innings limit which is why near the end of last season the Os couldn’t buy a win with all their starters being shut down. It’s the bullpen this saves. It basically means that the team doesn’t want to see all their relievers come down with injuries like Baez and Ray did after having to pitch so much in 2007. (The year might be wrong.)

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  16. lincolndude says:

    The Orioles aren’t just flushing this money down the toilet. This is a good deal for them. They picked up 2-3 wins for under 10 million and no commitment beyond 2010, and they gave away basically nothing for it.

    Whether or not they are contending for a playoff spot, adding 2-3 wins to the club is worth something. They have to field a semi-competitive team or else all their fans are going to go to Nationals games, right?

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    • Joe R says:

      Is this the state of baseball in the capital area metropolitan when hoping Adam Dunn hits a 450 foot HR the only baseball related thing to hope for between 2 different franchises?

      *yes I know Adam Dunn isn’t the best player on the Nats, but who doesn’t like when he f***s up Sac Flies opportunities with Home Runs?

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  17. lincolndude says:

    After taking a look at some of Millwood’s pitch stats, I’ve got a question. How can a pitcher have negative run values for all of his pitches, yet still be an above average player? In ’07 and ’08, Millwood’s run values on all of his pitches look bad, yet he still put up 6 WAR over those two seasons.

    Is it something to do with the park he plays in? Leverage? What’s the deal there?

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  18. Brandon says:

    What are the chances of Millwood being a Type A next year? When I first read about the trade, that is what immediately came to mind.

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    • Dirty Water says:

      Considering his cumulative numbers for his last three walk years, that, sir, is a lock.

      Seriously. Texas signing the always injured Harden is “a great example of what a team can do with cleared salary” but Baltimore signing Millwood is stupid (implied)? Sometimes I just don’t what the boys here are trying to prove.

      IMO, Texas dumping the workhorse Millwood and $3 mil for Harden should be on the list for dumbest moves of the 2009 offseason. Not that I hope Harden goes down again, as he will, because I don’t.

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  19. saj says:

    Only makes sense for O’s if you believe in the scouts’ logic that a young staff develops better with a role model vet. I’m dying to see somebody take a serious look at this question. Millwood seems to be as much a risk as a ripening agent. And if you’re interested, here’s an angle: every 10 years a great young staff pops up, with the Braves in 1990-1 and the A’s in 2000-1. Will the Orioles be the 2010 version, a special staff or just a minor breakout like the twins, tigers, marlins, indians of recent years?

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