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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.