If I was a gamblin' man / Never would'a let you play your hand / With a broken down cowboy like me: Jays Offer Minor-League Deal to Kevin Millar

The Jays made Kevin Millar a minor-league contract offer today, yet another step towards their apparent goal of making it through the offseason without signing a single free agent to a major-league contract (they are the only team to not do so thusfar. 

The right-handed firstbaseman, DH, and emergency outfielder hasn't accepted or declined the deal yet, and is unlikely to do so this week. 

While Millar's tepid .234 batting average from last season, his age (37), and the post's title (it comes from a John Fogerty song I thought was appropriate given Millar's famous "Cowboy Up" slogan back from when he was with the Red Sox), it wouldn't sound like Millar would have too much to offer.  But I think a minor-league deal is about right.  Millar did hit 20 homers last season (though he only slugged .398 thanks to the low batting average and lack of doubles), but he did have a BABIP of .249, which was by far the lowest of his career.  With a line-drive rate more or less in line with his career (19.1% in 2008, 20.8% over his career), it's fair to think Millar has a decent chance of bouncing back somewhat.

Not that I'm suggesting that Millar merits everyday playing time, but with Lind, Snider, and Overbay all hitting from the lefthand side, Millar could be worth some at-bats as a righty hitter, even though he doesn't have platoon splits at all - he has a .823 career OPS against righties, compared to .804 against lefties, and a very slight edge against lefties in 2008. 

The only thing about this is that Jose Bautista already offers a righty bat, and I personally don't see the Jays going with two platoons - Bautista has much better recent numbers against lefties (.885 OPS last year against them, compared to Millar's .736) but their career numbers are pretty similar (.814 is Bautista's career mark against southpaws.)  Bautista and Millar are different types of hitters, with Bautista being a waste against righties but having some power, while Millar is historically more of an on-base man who is platoon neutral.  Millar isn't anything special in the field, while Bautista is average at best at third and looked awful in limited duty at first (though if he can play an average third, that would seem to be his floor at first if he worked at it at all). Bautista, though, offers some insurance for Rolen (he and Inglett could probably provide a respectable platoon), while Millar would offer some insurance at 1st base and DH that Bautista arguably wouldn't because of his limited ability to hit righties.

The biggest difference in numbers may be in salary - if Bautista plays out the season, he's in for $2.4 million, while the Jays offered Millar only a minor-league deal (not known what the incentives might be there).  The Jays might be pulling a Shannon Stewart for Reed Johnson v. 2.0 here to save some cash.  First Millar would have to take the deal, but if the Jays are comfortable enough with Inglett, they might rather have Millar and use the money elsewhere, with Inglett and Scoot playing third in the event of a Rolen injury and Mac moving to SS against lefties, who he is somewhat less terrible against.  What do you all think?  

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