-- by James Baker
Baltimore Orioles GM Andy MacPhail seems to have completed his first deal of the winter by trading maligned reliever/ closer Chris Ray to the Texas Rangers for veteran starter Kevin Millwood, the Baltimore Sun Reports.
The reported deal would send Ray to Texas and the Rangers would pay $3 million dollars of Millwood's $12 million dollar contract. Millwood is in the last year of his deal and the Rangers have been looking to dump his salary.
The Orioles have been linked to Millwood for a couple weeks now. The last time Millwood was a free agent, prior to signing with Texas; the Orioles were suitors but seemed to be turned off by shoulder problems. Millwood's play has obviously put those fears to rest and the Orioles see Millwood as a stabilizing force in their rotation of talented young arms. Millwood today is a long way away from his 2005 Cleveland season where he led the AL with a 2.86 ERA, but the Orioles aren't asking him to do that. The Birds look at Millwood and see another Jeremy Guthrie; Someone who can pitch between 170-200 innings, keep his ERA in check and take pressure off the young arms.
Millwood is not a number one, he is not John Lackey. Millwood is a guy who can be a reliable arm in the middle of the rotation and, with young pitchers waiting in AAA, could be someone that gets spun off in another deal in the middle of the year. Moreover, when you consider that the Orioles have money to spend and they are only giving up a player, in Ray, that was likely to be non-tendered the Orioles essentially have signed Millwood to a one-year $9 million dollar contract.
Ray is replaceable and this move fills a need. The Orioles are not done yet. There is buzz around Erik Bedard and since it has come out that the former Oriole may be ready to pitch in April the Orioles have shown a lot of interest...