No active talks on Millwood

The Boston Globe reported Sunday the Brewers “have made a few inquiries” about Rangers right-hander Kevin Milwood. If that’s true, those inquiries have not been recent.

Texas GM Jon Daniels said Sunday that he hadn’t spoken to his Brewers counterpart Doug Melvin in weeks. That doesn’t exactly refute the report from the newspaper, but it does mean that the Brewers are not in trade talks with Texas.

Could they be at a later date? Maybe. The Rangers are the rare team with some depth of starting pitching, and could be a potential trade partner for the pitching-poor Brewers even if Millwood is not involved. 

Teams would probably try to pry Tommy Hunter (9-6, 4.10 ERA last season) or Derek Holland (8-13, 6.12 ERA as a rookie) away from the Rangers, who would rather deal someone like Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy finished last season as Texas’ fifth starter and was 7-4 with a 4.62 ERA for the year. 

It’s unclear, though, whether the Brewers and Rangers would have a fit. Texas is seeking a big bat this winter, preferably a right-handed one. The closest the Brewers have to a player who fits that description and could be traded is right fielder Corey Hart, who had a disappointing 2009 season and missed about a month after an appendectomy. The Rangers’ interest in a player like Hart could hinge on whether they are able to re-sign free agent Marlon Byrd.   

Sunday’s Boston Globe report is not the first link between the Brewers and Rangers. MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reported during last year’s Winter Meetings in Las Vegas that representatives from the two teams discussed Millwood after the Brewers lost their bid to re-sign CC Sabathia. At that time, the teams couldn’t find a match and the talks went nowhere. 

The Rangers will likely hold Millwood this winter and build their rotation around him and fellow righty Scott Feldman. But it’s not difficult to see why a number of other teams
might show some interest in Millwood, who turns 35 on Christmas Eve but
is coming off a season in which he went 13-10 with a 3.67 ERA for Texas
while playing home games in a hitter-friendly ballpark.

Millwood is set to earn $12 million in 2010, the final season of his five-year, $60 million contract. A short-term commitment like that could be attractive to Melvin, who will also shed Jeff Suppan ($12.5 million salary next season) from the books after 2010. Millwood has a limited no-trade clause. 

Melvin is exploring every available option as he seeks to rebuild a pitching staff that struggled in 2009 and already jettisoned Braden Looper to add to his payroll flexibility. Melvin has said he would like to acquire two starting pitcher this winter, whether via free agency or a trade.

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