Addressing their bullpen for the second time in four days, the Orioles acquired Alan Mills from the Los Angeles Dodgers yesterday for reliever Al Reyes. They also received cash in the transaction, which was completed about two hours before the Orioles' game against the Texas Rangers at Camden Yards.
Mills spent seven years with the Orioles before signing with the Dodgers as a free agent after the 1998 season. On the trading block since spring training, Mills was 2-1 with a 4.21 ERA and one save in 18 games this season.
"We've had our scouts following the Dodgers. He's had trouble with his command, but he's got 95 mph velocity and I know he'll do better here than he's done in the National League," said Syd Thrift, the Orioles' vice president of baseball operations.
Mills signed a three-year, $6.5 million contract with the Dodgers after leaving Baltimore, where he was 29-20 with a 3.87 ERA and 13 saves in 308 games. He'll be making $2.25 million this season and $3 million next, with the Dodgers picking up $1.75 million in salary over the two seasons. Asked the difference between Mills now and when he left the Orioles, Thrift said, "He has more money."
"I hope he's the same. He was pretty good when he was here," Thrift said. "From what I've heard and understood, he's felt kind of out of place in the National League. We looked at him early in spring training because we had heard he was somewhat unhappy."
Mills, 33, is expected to report today and join a bullpen that added Gabe Molina on Friday when left-hander B.J. Ryan was sent down to Triple-A Rochester. And another change is forthcoming when Calvin Maduro is activated from the disabled list, a move that's expected sometime this week.
This wasn't the first attempt made by the Orioles to reacquire Mills this season. They had offered left-hander Chuck McElroy last month, but were turned down.
The Orioles can use Mills in middle relief, territory previously occupied by Reyes. In the past, he's also been called upon to pitch in the late innings as a bridge to the closer, and manager Mike Hargrove indicated after last night's game that Mills mostly will work in the back end of the bullpen, assisting Mike Trombley in a setup role.
"His role really depends on the manager and pitching coach [Sammy Ellis], but I know both of them were smiling very broadly when I told them," Thrift said.
"One guy can make a huge difference. I can remember a number of times this year, if we had one guy in the right spot, it would have made a big difference."
This is the first trade between the two clubs involving major-league players since March 11, 1989, when the Orioles sent pitcher Mike Morgan to the Dodgers for outfielder Mike Devereaux.
The Dodgers, who were looking to unload salary, indicated they will send Reyes to Triple-A Albuquerque to gain more roster flexibility.
Reyes, acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers last July for pitcher Rocky Coppinger, was 1-0 with a 6.92 ERA in 13 games.