As I sit at home with a sick child processing the happenings of the winter meetings, I figure now is a good time to catch Beyond The Boxscore up on the moves we've missed. Luckily, the bulk of the moves involve similar teams so we can consolidate some posts in the process.
Two moves that seem related to one another are the Rangers trading former ace Kevin Millwood to the Orioles for former closer Chris Ray; then turning right around and adding a pitcher with ace stuff in Rich Harden. SInce I don't follow the team closely, I'm not sure one deal officially led to another, but for a team that has money issues the timing seemed coincidental.
Moving Millwood and $3 million in cash to Baltimore cleared up $9 million dollars for 2010. If you include Chris Ray's expected salary of ~$1 million, then the savings are closer to $8 million. Harden will cost the Rangers $7.5 in 2010. The team also holds a team option for 2011 of over $11 million dollars.
Rangers fans shouldn't expect much from Ray. After a solid first two season with the Orioles, injuries have turned Ray into an average-to-below-average middle reliever. He missed the Majors in 2008 completely, and hasn't posted a sub 4.1 FIP season since his rookie campaign in 2005.
This previous season his FIP sat about the five mark and his tRA over six. He still shows good velocity after Tommy John surgery, and he did carry a ridiculous BABIP of .402 last season. However, home runs have been a problem in the past and remain. Because of his 7+ ERA, he won't get much of a raise in arbitration, if any. From the Rangers stand point, the move is what it is; a salary dump with a potential useful reliever thrown in the mix.
For the Orioles, they get a veteran starter to anchor a pretty young rotation. Millwood had a dandy 3.67 ERA in 2009, however, his 4.80 FIP, 4.78 xFIP, and 5.61 tRA don't speak highly of the soon-to-be 35-year-old's 2009 season. He doesn't strike out many and his 85.2% contact rate tells you he doesn't miss many bats. Since posting a 5.1 WAR in 2006, Millwood has averaged 2.8 WAR over the last three. At $9 million dollars, he should give the Orioles fair value, but isn't anything special. The move to the AL East will probably take some adjusting, but given the fact that he's probably one and done on rebuilding Baltimore team, it shouldn't really much matter.
A year after leaving the NL West, Rich Harden returns home to replace Millwood in the Rangers rotation. Nolan Ryan gets himself a hard-throwing ,strikeout pitcher, but I'm not sure that Harden fits the 300 inning/150 pitch per game starter that Ryan dreams about. He has topped 30 starts just once in his career, and has never pitched over 189 innings in a given season. Most likely Harden will give you 22-25 starts and 140 innings.
He shows flashes of brilliance as seen in his 2008 numbers, but is equally as frustrating as shown in his fourth starter-ish 2009 numbers. He does get a lot of K's which will put a smile on Nolan's face, and is the owner of some ridiculous contact rates which show how good his stuff can be. The only qualified starter with a sub 70% contact rate, Harden has produced swinging strike percentages north of 13% in each of the last five seasons and over 15% in two of the last three. The talent is there, unfortunately more often than not it's accompanied by a trainer. If healthy, Harden could give Texas a major boost in the increasingly competitive AL West.