O’s Trade Chris Ray For Kevin Millwood

I have insisted repeatedly that the Orioles not trade pitching prospects for Kevin Millwood – even the reports of David Hernandez as the return were troubling – but it seems things didn’t turn out as I had feared.  The O’s still got their man, but only had to give up reliever Chris Ray and a Player To Be Named Later (which reportedly be the O’s Rule 5 pick), with the Rangers picking up $3 M of the $12 M left on Millwood’s contract (which goes through 2010).

Since Ray is already in his arbitration years (two left), he’s not exactly cheap given his level of performance. Even if he returned to his form, given the money he’d be making I don’t think he’d contribute much more than $1-2 M or so in excess value to the team (if that). Millwood probably isn’t worth quite what he’ll be paid (I didn’t factor in aging previously when saying he’s a 2.5 WAR / $12 M guy – I’m sorry, my bad), so if you have him at 2 WAR (and about $9 M) then the deal looks pretty close to even. That assumes the PTBNL isn’t anyone who’ll see the majors. [I was going to include the value of the draft-pick from Millwood being a Type B free agent after the season, but there’s no way the O’s offer him arbitration.]

That said, I would have much rather seen the Orioles spend $8 M on locking up Rich Harden, who has signed with the Rangers for $7.5 M (using the money they saved on Millwood). Way higher upside, and the downside is probably closer than one would think. Millwood offers only innings, which could just as easily be given to Jason Berken. The results would be worse, but the cost is much (much) lower and at least there’d be some chance of improvement. The best I can do is say that it’s not a bad move, and could be OK if Millwood can be spun off at the trade deadline for something useful.