INDIANAPOLIS -- The Texas Rangers have traded veteran starting pitcher Kevin Millwood and $3 million to the Baltimore Orioles for reliever Chris Ray and a player to be named later, the club announced Wednesday.
The Rangers received left-handed relief pitcher Ben Snyder from the Orioles on Thursday to complete the deal.
The trade gives the Rangers more financial flexibility -- $8 million when you factor in the close to $1 million that Ray would probably make -- to sign another veteran starting pitcher. The club has high interest in Rich Harden, who is coming off an injury and would be willing to take a one-year deal to show that he's healthy.
The Rangers are also looking for a right-handed bat, a catcher, a utility infielder and relievers to bolster the bullpen. And they came to the winter meetings with about $5 million to spend, so this deal gives them a better chance to fill more holes on a team that club officials expect to be contenders in the American League West in 2010.
Millwood had a limited no-trade clause, which was 12 teams that he could not be traded to without his permission. Baltimore was not on that list.
"I'm a little surprised. It feels weird, but what can you do?," he said. "I liked it here in Texas. I've had a great time and enjoyed playing with great teammates. I was hoping to finish here, but that's not going to happen."
Millwood, who turns 35 later this month, earned that vested option after pitching more than 180 innings in 2009. He was 13-10 with a 3.67 ERA in 198 2/3 innings pitched. He did have lower back and gluteus muscle soreness in September but returned to finish the season.
The Rangers signed Millwood to a five-year, $60 million deal before the 2006 season to front their rotation. He won 48 games in four seasons with Texas with a 4.82 ERA, but pitched over 200 innings just once. Millwood had his most wins with Texas in 2006 with 16, and his best ERA came last season at 3.67 (to go along with 13 wins).
"It was a difficult decision," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "There's risk involved when you're talking about trading a guy that has pitched big innings for us last year and a big character guy as well."
Ray was a former closer for the Orioles before surgery to repair ligament damage in his right elbow set him back. He was 0-4 with a 7.27 ERA in 46 appearances in 2009. Ray, 27, has 49 career saves for the Orioles. Ray's best season was 2006, when he sported a 2.73 ERA and had 33 saves.
"Chris Ray is an accomplished, big league, back-of-the-bullpen, winning piece and one of our priorities was to strengthen our pen, and I think a healthy Chris Ray does that," Daniels said. "He hasn't been healthy in the last year and a half, but prior to that he was an up-and-coming reliever. This deal is also about creating some payroll flexibility. There's no secret about that."
Richard Durrett covers the Texas Rangers for ESPNDallas.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.