Call Millwood a morning glory. One minute he and Jim Thome were going to deliver the pennant to the Phillies in ’03 and then he couldn’t get out of town fast enough. From there Millwood spent a year in Cleveland where he led the American League in ERA and then to Texas where he has anchored the Rangers’ resurgence (relatively speaking) for the past four years.
More on that later…
But you don’t need to tell me that it was an odd thing to be sitting there with Millwood talking about something he said he didn’t want to talk about. It was a certainly a big deal at the time. Millwood came to the Phillies in the much-heralded trade for Johnny Estrada a few days before Christmas in ’02 with a contract that expired at the end of the season. The thinking then, in the glow of the no-hitter and the 7-1 start, was the Phillies had to sign Millwood to a multiyear deal, but it was easy to tell from the way the righty answered questions and shifted in his seat that he wasn’t too keen on doing anything other than testing the free-agent market.
That idea was personified when Millwood chucked his glove into the stands upon exiting the mound in the last ever game played at the Vet.
However, when it came to the free agent market that winter, Millwood re-signed with the Phillies for $11 million. That was his highest salary until this season when he also got $11 million from the Rangers, but that will change in 2010 when Millwood will get a $1 million raise. Had Millwood not reached 180 innings this season, he would have been able to become a free agent this winter and likely would not have been able to command such a high salary.
“I knew what I had to get to,” Millwood said after his start on Monday night.
It’s not like Millwood would not have had paychecks coming in either way. After signing his deal with the Rangers in 2005, it was agreed upon that his $15 million signing bonus would be paid to him from 2011 to 2015.
That means from 2010 to 2015, the Texas Rangers will pay Kevin Millwood $27 million.
But get this… Millwood’s employer, the Texas Rangers, just might be writing checks their butts can’t cash. According to reports, Rangers’ owner Tom Hicks had to borrow $15 million from Major League Baseball in order to make payroll. Moreover, the club was on such shaky financial ground that Hicks will need to sell the team “sooner, rather than later.”
It’s a shame because the financial struggles of the Rangers very well might have cost them more than just making payroll. The thought is the Rangers could have made a push for the wild-card berth or even the AL Central title had they been able to make a deal at the deadline. They couldn’t, of course, because they could not take on more payroll.
You know, not with Kevin Millwood on the hook for $27 million through 2015 whether he throws another pitch or not.
It’s ironic to point out that the Braves traded Millwood to the Phillies simply because they didn’t have enough money to keep him. It was a salary dump, plain and simple. It’s kind of funny how things changed for Millwood this time since there likely won’t be anywhere for the Rangers to dump the salary.
Anyway, sitting there that afternoon in 2003 talking with Millwood, I thought it would be funny to ask him if he thought it was odd that he was talking about a topic that he had just claimed that he did not want to talk about.
“Yeah, so let’s stop talking,” he laughed.