Veteran right-handed pitcher Kevin Millwood(notes), conducting his own personal spring training in Newport Beach, Calif., has drawn interest from "four or five teams" in recent days, according to his agent, Scott Boras.
Two weeks from opening day, Millwood, 36, has had his simulated games – some against college hitters – scouted by several teams, most recently on Wednesday by the New York Yankees.
Boras said Millwood threw 100 pitches, is commanding four pitches and pitched with his fastball at 88 to 90 mph.
James Paxton, the left-hander and fourth-round draft pick signed by the Seattle Mariners two weeks ago, had been on a similar program at the Boras Sports Training Institute.
Arguably the seventh-best pitcher in a thin free-agent class (behind Cliff Lee(notes), Carl Pavano(notes), Javier Vazquez(notes), Andy Pettitte(notes), Hiroki Kuroda(notes) and Jorge De La Rosa(notes)), Millwood was 4-16 with a 5.10 ERA last season for the Baltimore Orioles. Boras said the majority of that was attributable to 11 starts that Millwood made from late May to early August while nursing a sore groin, when he was 2-7 and his ERA was 8.84. Over 10 starts in August and September, Millwood's ERA was 3.29.
Sorting through Ivan Nova(notes), Freddy Garcia(notes) and Bartolo Colon(notes) for the final two spots in their starting rotation, the Yankees were presumed to have the greatest interest. Nova threw six hitless innings against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday, however, and appears to have claimed the fourth spot.
The Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners and Orioles also could choose to engage on Millwood. As opening day nears and injuries begin to threaten the early season, other clubs might also become involved. The Los Angeles Dodgers, in spite of spring injuries to Jon Garland(notes) and Vicente Padilla(notes), probably lack the finances to pay as much as $5 million for Millwood.
"At this point," Boras said, "the contract is less important than the situation. Kevin is looking for the best opportunity."
Other free agents, either for lack of opportunity or production, or age or injury, available in case of emergency or circumstance:
• Right-hander Jeremy Bonderman(notes), who last summer suggested he might retire, appears willing to sit out at least the early months of this season after attracting only minor league contract offers in the offseason. Bonderman, 28, won 50 games from 2004-07 and, in part because of shoulder issues, 11 since.
• Second baseman David Eckstein(notes), 36, is without a team in spite of a knack for making himself useful and lingering ailments for Chase Utley(notes) in Philadelphia, Aaron Hill(notes) in Toronto, Brian Roberts(notes) in Baltimore and Jeff Keppinger(notes) in Houston. He works out with brother Rick, the hitting coach for the Nationals, and expects to continue his career.
• Teams are crying for catching, yet Bengie Molina(notes), 36, so far seems satisfied to prepare to polish his World Series and AL championship rings. The San Diego Padres inquired recently on Molina and were told he wasn't interested.
• Infielder Julio Lugo(notes), 35, who played second base, shortstop, third base and a game in left field for the Orioles last season, received only minor league offers in the offseason. He hopes to continue his career.
• First baseman Troy Glaus(notes) had 14 home runs and 58 RBIs for the Atlanta Braves in the first half of '10, was undone by knee and wrist problems and finished with 16 home runs and 71 RBI. It sounds like, at 34, he's in semi-retirement.