Back in 2005, Kevin Millwood pitched on a one-year contract with the and skillfluked* his way to a 2.86 ERA before re-entering the free agent market. At that point he was turning 31, and I recall there being a lot of fans who wanted to bring him to Seattle. The team was getting better, or supposedly getting better. Millwood was an established workhorse. He could serve as a mentor to a young Felix Hernandez. He had a career 114 ERA+. Millwood was an attractive option, even for those who weren't blinded by his unsustainable run prevention.
* read carefully
Alas, the Mariners didn't sign Kevin Millwood. The Mariners signed Jarrod Washburn. The signed Kevin Millwood, to a five-year contract I'd completely forgotten about until today. I don't know how I forgot about that, but I suspect it has something to do with the Rangers' trade of Millwood to the , since I don't retain much information about Orioles. Fun fact: between 2006-2009, Millwood posted a 100 ERA+, and Washburn posted a 100 ERA+.
Anyway. Now it's December 2011. It's almost January 2012. There might still be Mariners fans who want to see what Millwood would look like in a Mariners uniform. And it is for those fans that I bring some good news. It is for other fans that I bring some news.
#mariners are looking at a veteran pitcher and have interest in kevin millwood
It's hardly earth-shattering that the Mariners want to add a veteran starter. The Mariners have long wanted to add a veteran starter, ending up linked to guys like Jeff Francis and Jamie Moyer. Kevin Millwood is new, or at least I think that Kevin Millwood is new. I hadn't heard of the Mariners being interested in him before.
On the one hand, Kevin Millwood is represented by Scott Boras, and I'm disinclined to trust Jon Heyman when he says anything about a Scott Boras client. On the other hand, Millwood's 37 now, and last year was a member of three different organizations. At this point I don't think Millwood's worth trying to play a media game. The Mariners have probably at least placed a phone call, which is a sign of interest, so long as they didn't say "we have absolutely zero interest."
Why Millwood? Why a veteran starter? To answer the second question first, the Mariners are trying to construct a back-of-the-rotation bridge until the arrival of Danny Hultzen and James Paxton. Not that you can take Hultzen or Paxton for granted, but the Mariners think they'll both be ready soon, and I guess don't feel like relying on Blake Beavan and Charlie Furbush in the meantime. Remember Charlie Furbush? Remember how he's a Mariner?
As for the first question, because he's potentially cheap, potentially effective and potentially movable. Maybe the Mariners think Francis will cost too much. Maybe they don't think Moyer will bounce back from his surgery. Millwood's just one of a few options. And if Millwood was an appealing mentor candidate in 2005, imagine his wisdom plus six years!
He probably has so many nuggets to pass on to younger players that you could call him McDonald's don't do that
Millwood's okay. As a cheap rotation option, he's okay, just like Francis is okay, and Moyer is probably okay, and some others are probably okay. When you strip the names out of the equation, it becomes so much less interesting, and so much more clear - the Mariners are looking to add an arm who could give them ~2 WAR over a full season. Said arm might very possibly not last a full season.
When you look at the Mariners' situation, you can see that they'd probably just be looking to use whichever starter they might land. They'd land a guy, use him, and hopefully trade him. But that's all right, because the starter would probably be looking to use the Mariners. He'd sign with them, post park-affected numbers, make money and move on. There would be no pretense of trying to win the World Series. It would be a mutual business move. But baseball's a business.
Kevin Millwood's Rotoworld page has one update since he won a start in September. It's this one.