UPDATE: The Yankees sign Kevin Millwood

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UPDATE: The deal, she is done, and it’s a minor league deal as Heyman reported last night.  I presume this will lead to a lot of chatter, but really, he’s not going to be a factor any time soon. He hasn’t pitched all spring and the season starts in less than a week.  It’s a depth move — potentially a smart one, depending on how he looks after he’s in baseball shape — but for not it’s of little consequence.

Thursday, 11:49 PM: From Jon Heyman of SI.com comes word that the Yankees are close to signing right-hander Kevin Millwood to a minor league contract.

Millwood, 36, had been holding out for a guaranteed big league roster spot, but it never came and spring training is now nearing it’s wrap-up stage.

Heyman says the contract is “incentive-laden,” meaning it is packed with around a million (or two) in performances-based bonuses. Those probably won’t click in, of course, if he’s not on the major league roster. And the Yanks are almost certain to send him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre initially.

Millwood is durable but he posted a 5.10 ERA in 31 starts last year for Baltimore, netting only four wins (if wins are your thing). We’ll call him insurance in case both Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia go down with injuries. That’s not completely out of the realm of possibility.

Evan Longoria: ‘I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base’

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.