Potential Millar Signing by Jays is Puzzling

The Toronto Blue Jays have reportedly made an offer to free agent first baseman Kevin Millar, formerly of the Baltimore Orioles, and best known for his time in Boston. The offer is believed to be a minor league deal with the idea of employing him as a part-time bench player. That certainly is the correct role for Millar, a good clubhouse guy, at this point in his career.

Millar’s offensive numbers have been plummeting for the past three seasons and he is of no use to Fantasy Baseball owners, even in AL-only leagues. In the past three seasons, his line has gone from .272/.374/.437 to .254/.365/.420 to .234/.323/.394. Interestingly, his playing time increased each season from 503 to 562 to 610 plate appearances, which says a lot (and nothing good) about the situation in Baltimore. On the plus side, Millar’s power has remained constant (right around .160 ISO) for the past three years. He also takes his healthy share of walks (13.8 BB% in 2007, 11.8 BB% in 2008).

The problem with this potential signing, from a Fantasy perspective, is the negative impact it could have on the playing times of better players. Millar is a first baseman who also spends time at designated hitter. That means he will cut into the playing time of first baseman Lyle Overbay. It also, more importantly, cuts into the playing time of young, promising outfielders Adam Lind and Travis Snider. Lind is more advanced than Snider and could have a fairly productive season, if allowed to play everyday, with the occasional rest against a tough southpaw. Snider has the potential to be a massive star. He will not achieve those lofty heights in 2009 (in part due to his affinity for the strikeout), but there is a danger that he could end up sitting on the bench a fair bit, or find himself on the bus to Triple-A Las Vegas for a good portion of the season. Toronto is not going to contend in 2009, so the club might as well field its young, promising players.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

8 Responses to “Potential Millar Signing by Jays is Puzzling”

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  1. Matt B. says:

    I think Adam Lind is a potential sleeper…. I could see .290-.310 average, possible 25 HRs… I have been following him for years, waiting for that breakout…

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  2. Ari says:

    “Toronto is not going to contend in 2009, so the club might as well field its young, promising players.”

    Or not waste their service time on a lost season so he can be cheap and you can contend in the future?

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    • Jim says:

      You can’t just save up your young players for a contending season and then expect them to hit right off the bat. They need time to adjust in the majors. Are you saying they should leave Lind and Snider in the minors all year to save some money a few years down the road?

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      • Josh says:

        I kind of agree with Ari. If you don’t think they will come up and hit well right now don’t bring them up just to get them experience. Let them rake a bit more in the minors, no point in wasting valuable service time. Especially when it doesn’t look like they will contend this year or the next.

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      • Jim says:

        It’s kind of hard to believe that they won’t hit well this season. An argument could be made for Snyder because he is young, but he killed MLB pitching in his short callup, and although he can’t continue that pace next season, he has the skills to put up very respectable numbers next year. And absolutely no argument can be made for Lind. He has been around the majors for a couple years now, and he came on at the end of last year and looks completely ready.

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  3. Finn says:

    “…with the occasional rest against a tough southpaw.”

    “He will not achieve those lofty heights in 2009…”

    Those sound like good reasons to have a Millar around at very low cost. I don’t think Gaston’s going to do anything crazy like have him split time with the young kids, but if he ends up getting a handful of ABs this year, is that really going to set the organization back? If there’s any truth to the idea of “chemistry” on a team, having a goofball veteran in the clubhouse is probably worth it when you’ve got a bunch of young guys on a team that basically did zero this past year and could easily go on cruise control in late April if not properly managed.

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  4. Kevin Millar says:

    I just want to apologize to every Blue Jay fan who had the misfortune of watching me play way too goddamn much in 2009.

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