O's, Rangers complete Millwood-Ray deal
AL clubs find middle ground to help improve their 2010 rosters
INDIANAPOLIS -- Somewhere between their two hotel suites, the Orioles and Rangers found an intersection of interests. Both teams accomplished a major goal Wednesday, when Texas sent Kevin Millwood and cash to Baltimore for reliever Chris Ray and a player to be named later.
The results were immediately evident from just about any angle. The O's acquired a proven veteran who can slot in at the top of their rotation, while the Rangers picked up some financial flexibility and a reliever with late-game experience. It all made so much sense, in fact, that the details came together quickly.
"They asked if we would have interest, and we liked [Millwood]," said Andy MacPhail, the Orioles' president of baseball operations. "He fits the bill for what we're looking for. We were looking for a veteran starter who we feel has good makeup, can do the role that he did for the Rangers last year. He took a talented young staff and took some of the weight and burden off the rest of the starters by taking his starts. And he has, from what I understand, a well-deserved reputation in the game for being the type of guy who will help some of our young starters as they start their Major League careers. It wasn't hard to answer 'Yes' that we would have interest if we could work something out."
MacPhail, in fact, said that Millwood wasn't on his radar when he got to the Winter Meetings. But after an initial conversation with Rangers general manager John Daniels, the two teams began to exchange names and amounts of cash. A day or two later, they reached an agreement in principle and ultimately a trade.
The player to be named later turned out to be Minor League left-hander Ben Snyder, who the Orioles took from the Giants organization in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft and then sent to Texas.
As for Texas, the bigger picture has already begun to take shape. The Rangers sent approximately $3 million to the Orioles and saved nearly $8 million by trading Millwood, and then they turned around and plowed the extra dollars into signing Rich Harden, a deal that is believed to be complete pending a physical examination.
"This allows us to do some things that we otherwise wouldn't be able to do," said Daniels, discussing the economic aspects. "It's safe to say we wouldn't have made this trade in a vacuum. We're not saving money for the bottom line, we're saving money to improve the club in other areas. There are a lot of intertwining pieces."
Baltimore, much like Texas, plans on going right back into the market and finding more pitching. The Orioles are known to have interest in Erik Bedard and Ben Sheets, two pitchers who carry significant injury questions with them. In the end, Baltimore added a proven arm and can afford to do something else on speculation.
"We were all looking at somewhat the same names, and there are additional variables that you take into account," said MacPhail of this winter's available arms. "If you're looking at a pitcher who's pitched primarily in the National League, there's no [designated hitter] over there. ... The fact that Kevin had pitched in the American League and won an ERA title in the American League, pitching in a ballpark that was hitter-friendly in Texas -- hot in the summer -- all those things are a positive, where it just takes some of the variables out of the equation."
Millwood, a former All-Star, began his career in the Atlanta organization and has since moved on to Philadelphia, Cleveland and Texas. The right-hander has won at least 16 games in four different seasons, and he went 48-46 with a 4.57 ERA over the past four seasons pitching for the Rangers in an offense-heavy ballpark.
The 34-year-old struggled in 2008 but bounced back last season, notching a 13-10 record and a 3.67 ERA in 31 starts for the Rangers. That ERA was his lowest since 2005, when he posted a 2.86 mark in his lone season with the Indians. Millwood, a native of Gastonia, N.C., would be one of the few Orioles with playoff experience. And while he'll embrace his role as a mentor, Millwood isn't going to take charge right away.
"I'm definitely not going to walk into Spring Training right away and start telling people what I think is right and what I think is wrong," Millwood said in a conference call. "Once I get to know guys and kind of find my way around a little bit, I'm sure that if there are things I see that aren't quite right, I won't have a problem bringing that up to a guy one-on-one."
The player to be named later won't be a significant member of Baltimore's 40-man roster, and both MacPhail and Daniels expressed optimism that Ray will be able to rebound in Texas. The 27-year-old struggled in his first season after undergoing ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow but showed real promise before his injury.
"Chris Ray is an accomplished big league, back-of-the-bullpen winning piece," said Daniels, referencing a player with a live arm and 49 career saves. "We wanted to help out our bullpen, and Chris Ray does that. He has been hurt, but before that, he was one of the up-and-coming closers in the American League."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.