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Wednesday, December 3, 2003
Updated: December 4, 11:25 AM ET
Milton added to 20-something rotation

ESPN.com news services

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Phillies acquired left-hander Eric Milton from the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday for reliever Carlos Silva and utility infielder Nick Punto.

GM: Millwood likely won't be back
Kevin Millwood
Millwood
After acquiring left-hander Eric Milton in a trade, Phillies general manager Ed Wade said Wednesday that he has taken a contract offer to free agent Kevin Millwood off the table.

Wade initially made the offer, believed to be a three-year deal believed to be worth $30 million with a club option for a fourth season, nearly two weeks ago.

"The likelihood of getting something done with Kevin was pretty remote," Wade told the Philadelphia Daily News. "Eric very sufficiently fills the need to add a quality starting pitcher to our rotation."

Wade said the team probably will not offer arbitration to Millwood before Sunday's midnight deadline, but wouldn't rule out the possibility. Millwood, considered a legitimate ace, went 14-12 with the Phillies last season with a 4.01 ERA. He tied a career high with 18 wins in his last year in Atlanta in 2002.

The Twins also get a minor leaguer to be named after the Rule 5 draft, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reports.

Milton, who won 41 games from 2000-02, started just three games last season after having surgery on his left knee during spring training.

He returned late in the season and went 1-0 in three starts with a 2.65 ERA. The Twins acquired him from the New York Yankees in 1998 along with Brian Buchanan, Cristian Guzman and Daniel Mota in exchange for Chuck Knoblach.

A former first-round pick of the New York Yankees in 1996, Milton was an All-Star in 2001 when he went 15-7 with a 4.32 ERA. He also pitched a no-hitter in 1999 for the Twins.

"I'm happy for the opportunity. I'm glad the Phillies wanted me this badly," Milton said. "I'm just going to come there and try to win."

The Phillies have been seeking another starter for the top of their rotation since Kevin Millwood filed for free agency last month. Philadelphia was interested in Curt Schilling, but the right-hander went to Boston in a trade with Arizona last week.

Phillies general manager Ed Wade also spoke to representatives for free agents Andy Pettitte and Bartolo Colon.

Wade said the team probably will not offer arbitration to Millwood before Sunday's midnight deadline, but wouldn't rule out the possibility. The Phillies had offered Millwood a three-year deal believed to be worth $30 million with a club option for a fourth season.

"Eric is a quality left-handed starter who will definitely be a plus for us in 2004," Wade said. "Our scouts, particularly Gordon Lakey and Charlie Manuel, really like this guy. We like the thought of having two left-handed starters near the top of the rotation."

Milton, 28, joins All-Star left-hander Randy Wolf, former All-Star right-hander Vicente Padilla and promising right-hander Brett Myers in the Phillies' rotation. Milton will make $9 million next year and will be eligible for free agency after the season ends.

Milton was the second pitcher to leave the AL Central champion Twins on Wednesday.

Earlier Wednesday, the Chicago Cubs announced they had signed free agent reliever LaTroy Hawkins away from Minnesota.

By trading Milton, the Twins are trying to make room to re-sign their top two free agents, All-Star closer Eddie Guardado and outfielder Shannon Stewart. General manager Terry Ryan added that it gives Minnesota more flexibility to go after other players.

"It gives us the ability to at least pursue that," Ryan said. "You've got to give up something to get something."

It's been reported that the Twins are also interested in trading outfielder Jacque Jones to make more room. Ryan is working with a payroll of about $56 million.

"I'm not even going to address that," Ryan said.

It's the second major trade of the offseason for the Phillies, who acquired All-Star closer Billy Wagner from Houston last month. Philadelphia won 86 games and finished 15 games behind NL East champion Atlanta last season.

The once-stingy Phillies have turned into free-spenders as they prepare to move into a new stadium in April. They signed free agent first baseman Jim Thome to an $85 million contract last season and later gave left fielder Pat Burrell a $50 million contract extension.

"I'm very happy with what we've done so far," Phillies manager Larry Bowa said. "Our four starters, I'm not afraid to go to war with them."

Milton, a Pennsylvania native, has compiled a 57-51 record with a 4.76 ERA in six seasons with the Twins. He was traded to Minnesota in a deal that sent second baseman Chuck Knoblauch to the Yankees in 1998.

"He's a very good pitcher, a classic left-hander," said Phillies pitching coach Joe Kerrigan, who saw Milton in the American League and who was with him on the 2000 Japan All-Star tour. "Eric has a solid, clean delivery with good arm speed and a very good change-up. He's quality."

Silva, 24, pitched in 62 games last season, including one start, and 68 games in 2002, compiling an 8-1 record with a 3.83 ERA.

Punto, 26, shuttled between Philadelphia and Triple-A Scranton over the last two seasons. He led the Red Barons in stolen bases in 2002 (42) and hit .315 in 25 games with them last year. Punto was a versatile bench player with the Phillies, playing second base, third base and shortstop.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.