The Red Sox efforts to make a big post-Christmas splash in the free agent and trade markets were dealt simultaneous blows today when it was revealed that free agent pitcher Kevin Milwood will sign a 5-year, $60 million deal with Texas, while Toronto will land Troy Glaus in a trade with Arizona. In the aftermath of the Johnny Damon defection, the Sox had set both players squarely in their sights in an attempt to soften the blow. But they've been foiled again.
Apparently the Rangers didn't learn their lesson the last time they overpaid for a No. 1 starter. In December 2001 they bound themselves to a five-year, $65 million disaster with Chan Ho Park. Park made five trips to the disabled list, going 22-23 with a 5.79 ERA in 64 starts, before being traded to the Padres in July - with cash - for Phil Nevin. So the Rangers are still paying some of Park's salary while he pitches in San Diego.
Sure, Texas can void the fifth year of the contract if Millwood doesn't pitch a minimum number of innings in the first couple of years. But that's a huge commitment to a guy who spent six weeks on the DL with acute tendonitis in his right elbow in 2004, winning only two games upon his return to the Philadelphia rotation. Milwood finished the year at 9-6 with a 4.85 ERA. And in 2001, Milwood was limited to just 21 starts and went 7-7 after spending 2 1/2 months on the DL with an inflamed right labrum.
Apparently the Sox’ showed some restraint in only offering Millwood a three-year, $30 million guaranteed contract with a vesting option for a fourth season. They may be desperate, but at least they haven't lost their minds over at Fenway.
And any day now, Toronto will announce the acquisition of the power hitting Glaus and a prospect in exchange for reliever Miguel Batista and Gold Glove second baseman Orlando Hudson. Glaus led Arizona with 37 homers and 97 RBI last year and will replace the punch that the Jays offense lost last year when Carlos Delgado left as a free agent.
As it stands now, the Sox look like a third place team in the AL East. Toronto has been one of baseball's most active teams this offseason, expanding their payroll from $45 million to around $80 million. Before acquiring Glaus, the Blue Jays had already added starter A.J. Burnett, first baseman Lyle Overbay and closer B.J. Ryan, rewarding him with the richest contract ever given to a reliever - five-years and $47 million. They may have overpaid for both pitchers, but they will be a force to be reckoned with in 2006.
The free agent pool keeps getting thinner and the Sox are running out of the best available options. They need a center fielder, a shortstop, a left-handed hitting first baseman with power, one more solid starter, plus another lefty in the bullpen. With 2006 just days away, Red Sox management has their work cut out for them, and no matter how they try to spin it, they're in a rather unenviable situation.
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