Chris Ray

December 9, 2009 by  

Chris RayChris Ray,NDIANAPOLIS — Chalk up one major goal achieved for the Orioles. Multiple front-office sources have confirmed that Baltimore is close to acquiring Kevin Millwood and cash considerations in exchange from Texas for reliever Chris Ray, a trade that would help flesh out the Orioles’ starting rotation and provide a mentor for their youth-laden staff.

Both teams will have to review and approve the medical reports to make the deal official, a process that could take them beyond the time constraints of the Winter Meetings. Ray has a surgically repaired right elbow but should get a clean bill of health, and Baltimore will review Millwood’s records for signs of wear and tear.

Neither club was ready to comment on the trade, which was first reported by The Baltimore Sun.

“It’s our understanding that it’s not done yet,” said agent Scott Boras, who represents Millwood.

That could technically be true, thanks to the outstanding issue of the medical reports.

Andy MacPhail, Baltimore’s president of baseball operations, was not immediately available for comment. Earlier in the week, MacPhail had said that he would be willing to take on a short-term contract in order to balance out his rotation, and he said the Orioles could match up with a wide variety of other teams.

“I haven’t met with enough teams to know who’s doing what,” said MacPhail. “We, and I’d imagine like most clubs, do an analysis before we get here about what their payroll levels were a year ago, what’s coming off and what’s coming on through arbitration. What are their needs, how much room do they have? You have some [teams] that are kind of full, and you have some [teams] that have some room. That’s the way it generally works. … If they go through the same analysis we do, we would be one of the clubs that has some maneuvering room.”

Millwood, a former All-Star, began his career in the Atlanta organization and has since moved on to Philadelphia, Cleveland and Texas. The right-hander has won at least 16 games in four different seasons, and he went 48-46 with a 4.57 ERA over the past four seasons pitching for the Rangers in an offense-heavy ballpark.

The 34-year-old struggled in 2008 but bounced back last season, notching a 13-10 record and a 3.67 ERA in 31 starts for the Rangers. That ERA was his lowest since 2005, when he posted a 2.86 mark in his lone season with the Indians. Millwood, a native of Gastonia, N.C., would be one of the few Orioles with playoff experience.

Ray, a former third-round Draft selection, has 49 career saves on his Major League resume. The right-hander missed all of the 2008 season while recovering from ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow, and he never really got comfortable last season. Ray struggled with his arm-slot and floundered to an 0-4 record with a 7.27 ERA.

The 27-year-old did not immediately return a request for comment, but he frankly discussed his situation in the season’s final days. Ray said he hoped to spend the winter working out and strengthening his core in order to maintain his stamina throughout the season and said he had unfinished business with Baltimore.

“Hopefully I’m still here,” he said. “Obviously, it’s out of my hands. Now it’s just whether I fit into their plans or not, and I hope I do. I see a lot of good things happening here. But you can’t bring me back next year expecting me to do what I did this year, because that would be pointless. I expect to have a much better season next year.”

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