The Yankees are checking out Kevin Millwood

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Andruw Jones and Kevin Millwood, huh? Apparently “key players from the team you beat in the World Series 12 years ago” is the new inefficiency!

The Yankees among the teams looking at Kevin Millwood as a back-end starter and have also looked at Freddy Garcia.

We talked about Garcia yesterday. Millwood got lit up like a Christmas tree last year. Over the course of his career he gives up slightly fewer homers than Garcia has and is a bit more likely to strike a guy out once in a while. That said, there isn’t a world of difference between Millwood and Garcia at this point. The biggest difference is that Millwood has consistently taken the ball every fifth day for close to a decade while Garcia has only had one season in the last four — last season — in which he pitched as many as 150 innings.

Either of these guys are likely to be able to eat innings for the Yankees in 2011, but Millwood maybe a bit more so. To the extent that one can expect any quality upside to either of them, it’s probably worth noting that Millwood is one year removed from a really nice season down in Texas. That seems to be a bit flukey, though, inasmuch as his 2010 looks a heck of a lot like his 2007 and 2008.

I’d probably go with Millwood over Garcia if I had to choose, but it’s not like either of them — or the differences between them — will make or break the Yankees 2011 season.

The Nationals expect Bryce Harper to test free agency

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Earlier this week at the Winter Meetings, Scott Boras said that he and the Washington Nationals had had preliminary discussions about a contract extension for Bryce Harper. Harper, of course, can become a free agent following the 2018 season and is widely expected to command the largest contract in baseball history.

While that may have given some Nationals fans hope that no other team would get the chance to bid on him, the Nationals are of the view that they have no shot to sign Harper before he at least tests the free agent market. From USA Today’s Bob Nightengale:

A lot of this seems like mutual posturing, doesn’t it? Boras trying to make it appear as though the he and Harper are giving the Nats a fair hearing and the Nats trying to make it appear as though, no matter what they do, Harper is going to hit the market. I tend to believe, personally, that Boras and Harper are hellbent on testing the market, but it’s possible that there is some number that the Nats can offer to head that off, right? Maybe?

Either way: big year ahead for Harper.