On Sunday, Kevin Millwood will be allowed to opt out of his minor league contract with the Yankees and seek employment elsewhere if they do not add him to the 25-man roster. Going into Spring Training, I think Millwood was probably considered a better pitcher right now than Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia. However, Colon and Garcia have combined for 31 innings and an ERA of 2.32, with Colon throwing great stuff while Freddy Garcia is getting by with junk.
Millwood’s stuff hasn’t looked good in the minors, but we knew that would happen already. His stuff hasn’t been good for years. According to Fangraphs, he has consistently lost a half a mile per hour on his fastball every year since we started getting Pitch/Fx data. He’s old, that what happens when players get old. But, unlike Garcia and Colon, he’s consistently been a healthy innings eater in the American League over that time. I’m not sure if he’s still a better bet to pitch more effectively than either Colon or Garcia, but he’s got to be the favorite to at least stay healthy.
As far as I can tell, the Yankees have three options with Millwood:
- 1) Allow him to opt-out and seek employment elsewhere.
- 2) Stick Millwood in the bullpen.
- 3) Hand Millwood a rotation spot, and demote one of Nova, Colon or Garcia to the bullpen or minor leagues
None are particularly good options. Millwood’s stuff isn’t likely to play particularly well in the bullpen, and his innings-eating value is mostly useful as a starter. While Colon or Nova might make good bullpen options in long relief, I don’t think you’d be smart to move either from starting. Nova is still young, and looked pretty good last night. And Colon is throwing serious heat. And Garcia is in Millwood’s boat – he throws junk, which won’t be as effective in shorter stints.
I don’t see any scenario where retaining Millwood, and his $1.5 million salary, makes any sense. While Colon and Garcia may break down as the season goes on, the Yankees will have more pitching options as the season goes on. They’ll have the Triple-A crew (Phelps, Brackman, Warren, Noesi) to draw from, plus the trade market and a recovered Phil Hughes. They’ll be slightly less covered for a month or two, but I think the odds of an injury to Colon or Garcia increase later in the season, as their bodies break down from workloads.
But that’s just me. What do you think the Yankees should do about Kevin Millwood?