Royals Reportedly Interested in Kevin Millwood


Maybe you’ve heard this line: “Only losing teams have innings eaters”.

So I guess it stands to reason the the Royals would be interested in former Brave, Phillie, Indian, Ranger and Oriole Kevin Millwood (so sayeth MLB Trade Rumors).  In 2011, it’s pretty likely the Royals will still be a losing team, though making the first strides towards changing that while acclimating younger players in the organization to playing in the big leagues.

And to look at the projected Royals rotation next season, they could probably use a guy like Millwood, who has started 25 games or more in 12 of his 14 major league seasons.

Really though, would he be worth it?

After Gil Meche‘s shoulder injuries marooned him in the bullpen and Bruce Chen was allowed to walk away as a free agent, the Royals are left with a rotation of Zack Greinke, Luke Hochevar, newly acquired Vin Mazzaro and Sean O’Sullivan. Kyle Davies hasn’t been non-tendered, but he has yet to be tendered a contract for 2011, so we can pencil him into the rotation, but he might be a roster casualty this winter. A Millwood signing would probably give us the answer to the Kyle Davies question.

Millwood’s track record tells two things about him as a player: he stays healthy – he is, as the paraphrased quote suggests, an innings eater, and he has pretty average control and strikeout ability. I guess the easiest way to describe him is he’s pretty dull, boring. Flat. Uninteresting. He is what he is.

Year Tm W L ERA GS IP ER BB SO ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
1997 ATL 5 3 4.03 8 51.1 23 21 42 104 1.481 9.6 0.2 3.7 7.4 2.00
1998 ATL 17 8 4.08 29 174.1 79 56 163 102 1.325 9.0 0.9 2.9 8.4 2.91
1999 ATL 18 7 2.68 33 228.0 68 59 205 167 0.996 6.6 0.9 2.3 8.1 3.47
2000 ATL 10 13 4.66 35 212.2 110 62 168 99 1.293 9.0 1.1 2.6 7.1 2.71
2001 ATL 7 7 4.31 21 121.0 58 40 84 103 1.331 9.0 1.5 3.0 6.2 2.10
2002 ATL 18 8 3.24 34 217.0 78 65 178 129 1.157 7.7 0.7 2.7 7.4 2.74
2003 PHI 14 12 4.01 35 222.0 99 68 169 99 1.252 8.5 0.8 2.8 6.9 2.49
2004 PHI 9 6 4.85 25 141.0 76 51 125 93 1.461 9.9 0.9 3.3 8.0 2.45
2005 CLE 9 11 2.86 30 192.0 61 52 146 147 1.219 8.5 0.9 2.4 6.8 2.81
2006 TEX 16 12 4.52 34 215.0 108 53 157 102 1.307 9.5 1.0 2.2 6.6 2.96
2007 TEX 10 14 5.16 31 172.2 99 67 123 89 1.622 11.1 1.0 3.5 6.4 1.84
2008 TEX 9 10 5.07 29 168.2 95 49 125 88 1.595 11.7 1.0 2.6 6.7 2.55
2009 TEX 13 10 3.67 31 198.2 81 71 123 127 1.339 8.8 1.2 3.2 5.6 1.73
2010 BAL 4 16 5.10 31 190.2 108 65 132 83 1.510 10.5 1.4 3.1 6.2 2.03
14 Seasons 159 137 4.11 406 2505.0 1143 779 1940 107 1.327 9.1 1.0 2.8 7.0 2.49
162 Game Avg. 13 11 4.11 34 208 95 65 161 107 1.327 9.1 1.0 2.8 7.0 2.49
ATL (6 yrs) 75 46 3.73 160 1004.1 416 303 840 117 1.216 8.2 0.9 2.7 7.5 2.77
TEX (4 yrs) 48 46 4.57 125 755.0 383 240 528 100 1.452 10.2 1.0 2.9 6.3 2.20
PHI (2 yrs) 23 18 4.34 60 363.0 175 119 294 97 1.333 9.0 0.8 3.0 7.3 2.47
CLE (1 yr) 9 11 2.86 30 192.0 61 52 146 147 1.219 8.5 0.9 2.4 6.8 2.81
BAL (1 yr) 4 16 5.10 31 190.2 108 65 132 83 1.510 10.5 1.4 3.1 6.2 2.03
NL (8 yrs) 98 64 3.89 220 1367.1 591 422 1134 111 1.247 8.4 0.9 2.8 7.5 2.69
AL (6 yrs) 61 73 4.37 186 1137.2 552 357 806 102 1.422 10.0 1.1 2.8 6.4 2.26
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/23/2010.

That’s not to say he’s a bad pitcher.  A career K/BB ratio around 2.5 is just fine, though unspectacular.  In 13 full seasons, he’s averaged about 190 innings a year and doesn’t walk many batters at all.  For the right price, sure, he’d be a decent addition.  He may even add some of the mysterious intangibles  to a young and developing group of pitchers.

Millwood led the American League in ERA in 2005 with Cleveland and posted solid numbers with the Braves in his early years in the majors.  He’s been a young starter in the big leagues, dealt with success, and now is a reliable pitcher to make 30 or more starts in a season.  A bunch of kids in their 20s could learn from a guy like that on how to stick in the big leagues, how to keep your arm in shape, and how to keep getting batters out.

My issue is that I fear the Royals will overpay for him.  Dayton Moore did so with Gil Meche back in 2006, tacking on an extra year and signing the righty to what looked like a foolish deal at the time, a steal after two years, and an albatross in its third and fourth years.  In the final year, Meche could be a solid option out of the bullpen if last years results are any indication.  Millwood’s also drawing interest from the Rockies, so Moore might be compelled to tack on an extra guaranteed year or an unnecessary dollar amount if he’s truly interested.

Millwood’s last contract cost the Orioles $9 million ($3 million was paid by the Rangers).  At 36, I can’t expect Millwood to continue to make $12 million a year, but if it takes more than $5 million to bring him in for one year, it’s a bad deal.  I’m not sure one year at that rate is any good either.

Over the last four years, Millwood has surrendered more than 14 baserunners per nine innings in three of those seasons.  In 2009, he gave up only 8.8 H/9 but 3.2 BB/9 and a career low 5.6 K/9.  His ERA was 3.67, so it looks solid on paper.  In the other three years in that span, his ERA surpassed 5.00.

As I said above, if Millwood were to join the Royals, it would likely signal the end of the Kyle Davies era in Kansas City.  I’ve never been a big Davies fan.  I thought he might better serve the Royals out of the bullpen going into 2010 with Robinson Tejeda taking his spot in the rotation.  I don’t know that Tejeda would have done worse, but Davies 5.34 ERA and 126/80 K/BB ratio wasn’t very solid by anybody’s standards.  However, at 27 years old and at a likely contract of less than $3 million once a contract is tendered to him, Davies isn’t much different from Millwood, minus the early years of success.

Now, if Millwood signs for $3 million, fine.  But if my options are a 27 year old starter at $3 million or a 36 year old at $5 million (or more), I think you have to go for the younger player with most of the numbers being equal.  Davies made 32 starts in 2010 and didn’t have any injury issues, so he’s a good bet to provide a similar workload in 2011.  Would I be upset if Millwood signs a one year deal at $2.5-3 million with a club option (just in case they need to eat some innings early in 2012)? Nope, that’s fine.  No big deal.

Anything more is a waste.  We already have a Kevin Millwood, just under a different name.

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Tags: AL Central Baseball Kansas City Royals KC Kevin Millwood Kyle Davies MLB Royals

  • rbt

    A Millwood signing may not necessarily portend the end of Davies…it just as easily could be the precursor to a Greinke trade.

  • Eric

    I don’t think it would mean the end of Davies either. I think it would just add some depth to the pitching rotation. We had Bruce Chen just for that purpose. Not that I think Millwood would sign to be in the minors, but O’Sullivan could go down as far as I am concerned.

    I would love to see Tejeda work his way into the rotation though. I think he could be a decent number three next year. Grienke said his time in the pen helped him a lot, this could be a similar situation.

    • http://kingsofkauffman.com Michael Engel

      I haven’t been impressed by O’Sullivan, but I think the Royals are going to give him every opportunity to pitch every fifth day in the majors until the prospects bubble up.

      I was all for Tejeda to get a shot at the rotation last year…and I’d be okay with another shot this year too. I like him in a setup role too. It’s just about the walks – if he can harness his stuff, he could be solid instead of solid (sometimes).

  • Steve Edwards

    Hopefully, it would keep Sean O’Sullivan out of the rotation. I agree with the author, though, Davies is preferable over Millwood because of the salaries. I doubt you can get Millwood for even $5M the way free agents are being overpaid so far this offseason.

    • http://kingsofkauffman.com Michael Engel

      Yeah, the $5 million is a guess of how low he’ll end up going, and even that is really unlikely. I get the weird sense that he’s gonna end up at $8 million. If he’s the 2009 Millwood, he might be worth it, but I give that about a 6% chance of that happening.