Cubs Acquire Alec Mills from Royals

The Cubs acquired 25-year old RHSP  from the Kansas City Royals Wednesday evening in exchange for minor league OF

LHRP has been by the Cubs to make room for Mills on the MLB Reserve List (40-man roster).   

Mills had been Designated for Assignment by Kansas City earlier Wednesday after the Royals signed free-agent (and ex-Cub) RHSP , so the Cubs did not waste any time going after Mills once he hit the DFA list.    

Mills was selected by the Royals in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft out of UT - Martin, and he had a couple of decent (but not exceptional) seasons as a SP/RP "swingman" in the lower minors before sustaining a torn elbow ligament. He underwent Tommy John Surgery in July of 2013, but he recovered from it very well and returned to action as a full-time starting pitcher in late 2014, and he is actually a better pitcher (and a much better prospect) now than he was before the TJS. 

The 6'4 190 Mills was rated the Royals #12 prospect by Baseball America coming into the 2016 season. He made his MLB debut (working in relief) on May 18th (he was called-up as the "26th man" in a doubleheader), and was optioned back to AAA the next day. He then made two more relief appearances for the Royals in September. Meanwhile, Mills had a fine season in the minors in 2016 (split between AA Northwest Arkansas and AAA Omaha), putting up a 3.22 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and a .252 Opp BA, and an outstanding 31/122 BB/K in 125.2 IP (24 games - 23 GS).

Although he was not used as a starting pitcher at the big league level with the Royals, Mills projects as an MLB rotation starter going forward, with excellent control (just 45 BB allowed in 239 IP 2015-16), a 90-92 MPH fastball that touches 94, a plus-change, a serviceable breaking ball, and legitimate swing & miss stuff (233 punch-outs in 239 IP over the past two seasons). He will likely be in the AAA Iowa starting rotation in 2016 (he could even be the #1 starter there), available to get a recall if an "emergency" starter is needed and it's his turn to pitch, and he will very likely compete for a job in the Cubs MLB starting rotation in 2018 (Jake Arrieta, John Lackey, and Brett Anderson are free-agents post-2017).  

Mills has two minor league options left, so the Cubs will have no problem sending him back & forth to Iowa in both 2017 and 2018.

Dewees was the Cubs 2nd round draft pick out of the University of North Florida in 2015, and while I am a big Donnie Dewees fan (I considered him to be one of the Cubs Top 15 Prospects post-2016), I did not see a long-term future for him with the Cubs. He is an excellent "fly-hawk" albeit with a well below-average arm, he has plus-speed (50 SB in 195 minor league game), and his "ceiling" is probably a -type lead-off hitter (high contact/good bunter/not much power), but because he has a rag-arm he might have to play LF in MLB (although because of his plus speed, CF is still a possibility), and also because of his weak throwing arm he really does not project as a "4th outfielder" at the big league level because he can't play RF (an MLB 4th outfielder needs to be at least passably-adequate at all three outfield positions).

David Rollins has been claimed off waivers five times (twice by the Cubs) since the end of the 2016 season, and so now the Cubs will (once again) try to secure Outright Assignnment waivers, and if they can (if no other MLB club claims him), he will be sent outright him to AAA Iowa (most certainly with a standing NRI to Spring Training). If waivers can be secured and the Cubs outright Rollins to the minors, he will remain under club control through the 2018 season (presuming he isn't traded, released, or selected in the December 2017 Rule 5 Draft).

Comments

I liked Dewees a fair amount but wasn't very high on him and he was most likely a 4th OFer for the Cubs. This is a smart move for a team that's in win now mode. Starting pitching depth was the biggest need going into the off-season and this FO has addressed that need about as well as they could with Anderson, Butler and now Mills to go along with Zastryzny. KC gets a good hitter with speed in exchange for a DFA'd pitcher. Good trade for both teams considering their respective needs.

The Royals got to see Donnie Dewees up close & personal at Advanced Instructs last fall, and Dewees went 6-12 with a double, a walk, two stolen bases, and three runs scored in three games versus KC. I don't know if the Cubs were necessarily "showcasing" him, but it couldn't have hurt his value to play like that against some of the Royals best prospects.

He also went 5-13 in a late three-game set against Wilmington in the Carolina League. They knew who they were getting.

The Cubs are getting down to the nub as far as players who can be dropped from the MLB 40-man roster if they acquire (by trade or waiver claim) another player who has been Designated for Assignment over the next four or five weeks. It doesn't mean the Cubs can't make another Butler or Mills type trade or claim a Floro or a Rollins off waivers or even sign a major league free-agent if one drops into their lap (as happened with Dexter Fowler last year), but it will be difficult to find room for anyone on the 40 right now.

Caleb Smith is a Rule 5 player so he can't be outrighted to the minors until Outright Assignment Waivers are secured AND (if waivers are secured) the Yankees elect not to reclaim him, and even if waivers are secured, he can't be outrighted until 20 days prior to MLB Opening Day, the eight Draft-Excluded players (Buchanan, Caratini, Hannemann, Leathersich, Pena, Rosario, Underwood, and Zastryzny) can't be sent to the minors (outrighted OR optioned) until 20 days prior to MLB Opening Day, Szczur can't be sent outright to the minors until he signs a 2017 contract and contracts cannot be automatically renewed until March 1st (plus Szczur would certainly get claimed if the Cubs put him on waivers), and there is no way the Cubs are going to DFA Butler or Mills after giving up talent to get them.

So with Dylan Floro and David Rollins having already been moved off the 40 (and I figured they would be the first two to go), that leaves Aaron Brooks and Pierce Johnson as the only two players on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster who can (realistically) be Designated for Assignment (and outrighted if waivers can be secured) right now (that is, until at least 20 days prior to MLB Opening Day). The Cubs could release a Draft-Excluded player (like Buchanan or Leathersich) or try and trade Szczur, but there isn't a lot of wriggle room on the 40 right now if they acquire another player.

Nor are there many rotation spots left in Iowa.

I think there are 11 guys competing, if I'm not mistaken. Mills, Butler, Rob Z, Brooks, Buchanan, Frankoff, Williams Perez, Pries, Beeler, Ryan Williams, and Casey Kelly

Do the Cubs have any 60 Day DL candidates they can use once camp opens?

Q-MAN: Aaron Brooks finished the season on the 60-day DL, but as far as I know he is healthy now. Same goes for Brett Anderson. They would be the only ones I can think of, unless somebody got hurt during the off-season and it hasn't been reported yet. Remember, if a player is placed on the 60-day DL during Spring Training he must remain on the 60-day DL for at least the first 60 days of the MLB regular season. Unlike a 7-day or 10-day DL assignment, a 60-day DL assignment cannot be backdated, and time spent on the 60-day DL during Spring Training doesn't count toward the 60-day minimum.

Mullee is healthy, then?

TIM: Conor Mullee is not on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster.

Mullee (August 2016 ulnar nerve surgery), Zac Rosscup (March 2016 shoulder surgery), Christian Villanueva (February 2016 broken leg), and Gerardo Concepcion were non-tendered on 12/2 and then Mullee, Rosscup, and Concepcion were signed by the Cubs to 2017 minor league contracts with an NRI to Spring Training after the Rule 5 Draft (so they couldn't get selected). I don't know if Mullee and Rosscup are ready to pitch yet, and if not they will probably spend the first part of the 2017 season at Extended Spring Training. 

Meanwhile, Villanueva signed a 2017 minor league contact with the San Diego Padres, reuniting him with A. J. Preller (who was the Rangers Scouting Director when Texas signed Villanueva out of Mexico in 2008). BTW, Villanueva did play for the Cubs in Advanced Instructs post-2016 prior to getting non-tendered, and he looked just fine. That could end up being a good signing by the Padres. 

AZ PHIL: Do you see Rickie Week's little 'bro Jemile getting many starts/abs? No doubt Jen Hoyer likes him from his Padres time, but based on last year, this kid can't hit his weight - which isn't much with his thin 5'9 frame. How is this player any better than the Cubs current high level farm system's better players?

"According to Forbes, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has a $1.6 billion "handshake agreement" to sell the team." this is from a Forbes staff writer, btw...not one of those occasionally crappy/questionable blog-like user submitted Forbes stories. loria paid $158m for the team 15-ish years ago. good f'n riddance loria family. this time stay gone.

Buyer is an unnamed Manhattan developer and might have too much debt to the league to approve.

i have many donald trump jokes to make in response, but i don't want to end up in a secret offshore FEMA camp.

lOl

Nope, not Trump .... just his daughter's father-in-law. https://twitter.com/mccoveychron?ref_src=twsr...

crunch, you're more likely to end up a regular on SNL. (I would watch that, by the way.)

"Major League Baseball plans on testing a rule change in the lowest levels of the minor leagues this season that automatically would place a runner on second base at the start of extra innings, a distinct break from the game’s orthodoxy that nonetheless has wide-ranging support at the highest levels of the league, sources familiar with the plan told Yahoo Sports." what the ever-living fuck is this bullshit? no. just no. period. no. get that the hell out of here. http://sports.yahoo.com/news/mlb-plans-to-tes...

Placing a runner at 2nd base at the start of an extra inning is stupid. They might as well have a home run derby or a foot-race between each team's fastest player to decide the game.

However...

Minor league baseball is different than MLB. The primary purpose of the minor leagues is player development, not winning the game. Winning is nice, but it's secondary to player development. Minor league games that are tied after nine innings should just be declared a tie. The Arizona Fall League has been doing this for years. Playing extra innings to determine a winner in a minor league game is not that important. It really doesn't matter. Nothing useful is served by going beyond nine innings in a minor league game. It could even be detrimental to player development.

In the major leagues, games should generally be automatically suspended after 12 innings, and the game should be re-started in the top of the 13th the next time the two teams meet, playing the balance of the suspended game before the scheduled game. The suspended game followed by a regularly scheduled game should be treated as a doubleheader, with a "26th man" (normally a pitcher) eligible to be recalled from the minors. Only if the game is the last game between the two teams that season would the game continue beyond 12 innings.

counterpoint: LH + RH pitcher and LH + RH batter simultaneous play multi-ball HR derby...10 swings or called strikes per batter...one of the balls is a special gold ball worth 2 runs and a steak dinner. any tie after that is broken with fan votes via texting or 1-800 number.

Or this... link

cubs need to sign bartolo colon next season...

Think of all the bison burgers Bartolo could be eating!

You can't say the Cubs front office doesn't stick to a strategy. They've built that rotation depth piece by piece since they announced that intent a few months ago.

it's the depth of a kiddie pool (in talent, not amount), but it's there nonetheless. having enough SP to have guys fight for a position in AAA isn't a bad place to be. brett anderson must have had one hell of a workout for them considering how he ended the year last season. here's to hoping we never see dallas beeler again.

Ha! Amen to that 'bro! After last year, we certainly can feel for the most part, this bunch knows what they're doing. How cool it would be if one of these reclamation projects, or rookies, just catch fire and put pressure on John Lackey's spot. I believe that John has gotten the best out of his arm, and wouldn't mind it if one of the new Cubs with their performances made him the Glendon Rush of the staff as a result.

I know the bullpen looks loaded, but I still would like Travis Wood back in the fold.

AZ Phil: Jerry Crasnick of ESPN wrote an article about perpetual waiver-wire guys like David Rollins (http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/18654828/j...). Texas GM Jon Daniels is quoted as saying that GMs feel for guys like Rollins but can't agree what a reasonable solution is because the waiver wire process is designed to help guys like Rollins have a shot at someone's 40-man roster. It seem to me that an easy solution is to say that a guy can't be designated for assignment more often than a certain number of times, like twice in a calendar year for example. Any thoughts?

JOHN B: The problem with frivolous multiple waiver claims is much more of an issue during the off-season than it is during Spring Training or during the MLB regular season, so I would say the best solution would be that the waiver price should be increased from $20,000 to $50,000, and any player claimed off waivers during the waiver period that runs November 11 - February 15 would have similar status as players covered under MLB Rule 6 ("Selected Players" and "Draft-Excluded Players"), which is to say a player claimed off waivers during the waiver period that is in effect 11/11 - 2/15 cannot be Designated for Assignment, released, or optioned or sent outright to the minors any earlier than 20 days prior to MLB Opening Day.

That would mean a player can be claimed off waivers only once during the off-season (after November 10th), but once he is claimed, the player knows he won't get claimed off waivers again until at least 20 days prior to MLB Opening Day.

So an off-season waiver claim would be somewhat like a selection in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft (a Rule 6 "Selected Player"), except the claiming club doesn't have to offer the player back to the club from which he was claimed before he can be sent to the minors, and the player doesn't have to remain on the claiming club's 25-man roster during the regular season. He just has to remain on the claiming club's MLB 40-man roster until 20 days prior to MLB Opening Day. In that sense it's more like a Rule 6 "Draft-Excluded Player" (roster restrictions removed 20 days prior to MLB Opening Day), except a Draft-Excluded Player isn't claimed off waivers or selected in the Rule 5 Draft from another MLB organization. (A Draft-Excluded Player is moved up to a club's MLB 40-man roster from the reserve list of one of the MLB club's own minor league affiliates to exclude the player from being eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft).

Hey, Phil! Any observations from live batting practices or the first few days of full squad workouts?

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  • crunch 1 day 4 hours ago (view)

    j.girardi did a 2nd interview with PHI on Monday and he's supposedly the favorite for the job.

     

  • bradsbeard 1 day 9 hours ago (view)

    The draft over the ASB and the trade deadline pushed back until August 15th or so would make sense. Otherwise, I don't know how scouting departments are going to handle the draft lead up and the trade deadline running almost simultaneously.  

     

  • Arizona Phil 1 day 9 hours ago (view)

    One other thing about MLB player development that is very different from NFL, NBA, and NHL player development is that most MLB clubs have upwards of 300 minor league players under contract (not including players on their MLB 40-man roster, the Cubs presently have 301 minor leaguers under contract on nine minor league affiliates).

     

  • Arizona Phil 1 day 9 hours ago (view)

    JUST SAYIN: MLB is the only one of the four major North American professional sports that holds its draft and signs its draft picks during the season.

     

  • crunch 1 day 18 hours ago (view)

    umpire eric cooper has died...complications from knee surgery (blood clot)...52 years old

     

  • crunch 2 days 5 hours ago (view)

    "MLB Network's Jon Heyman reports former player David Ross and Astros bench coach Joe Espada "appear to be the frontrunners" for the Cubs' managerial opening."

    espada's had 2 interviews.  for a guy who's actively at his "other job," having a 2nd interview seems like both sides want to make this work.  SF and PIT are also supposedly interested in espada.

     

  • JustSayin' 2 days 7 hours ago (view)

     That's a fair description of the benefits of the plan but If I have to choose between "better way" and "owners' greed," I pick the latter.  MLB wants better MiLB facilities, on average, without paying a cent.  They want to deal with the social and legal pressure they are getting for not even paying minor league players minimum wage per real hour worked by having less players.  In addition, the draft is to be moved to late August, so every draftee would lose compensation for the stub year in which they are drafted.  For this reason, I'm not sure your point about col

     

  • Hagsag 2 days 7 hours ago (view)

    Thanks Mr. Phil.

     

  • Arizona Phil 2 days 8 hours ago (view)

    HAGSAG: Besides reducing the costs that are associated with operating a minor league club, reducing the number of minor league affiliates would allow MLB organizations to increase the salaries of their remainng minor league players (who would be the organization's most-legit prospects) without having to increase the organization's aggregate minor league payroll. 

     

  • crunch 2 days 9 hours ago (view)

    The discussions on this matter have been quite varried.  There seems to be a lot of pressure connected to this on minor league team owners who haven't upgraded their facilities/park in a while or who lag in quality compared to their competitors.

    It seems like this would not only cause some teams to fold, but some radical redistribution of existing teams/cities into new minor league levels rather than just pruning some teams over others.

     

  • Hagsag 2 days 21 hours ago (view)

    AZ Phil, what are your thoughts on the discussion to eliminate 42 low minor league teams in 2021? What would this do to the Dominican League? Thanks.

     

  • crunch 3 days 3 hours ago (view)

    yanks/astros game 6 was a f'n classic.  wow.

    altuve continues to build his astros legend.

     

  • bradsbeard 3 days 17 hours ago (view)

    Thanks for this. I agree they’ll probably take their chances in the Rule 5 if he will resign, though I really wouldn’t mind adding him back to the 40 man. I feel like he has a good chance to be effective out of the bullpen. 

     

  • bradsbeard 3 days 18 hours ago (view)

    I hope Sagara doesn’t end up leaving because of the shakeup. The Athletic did report that his position might be eliminated but that he should be offered another role in the organization somewhere. All I know is Sagara’s name came up frequently in connection with the pitch lab, and he was credited for improvements with Ryan, Wick, and Wieck. Maybe he’ll end up focusing more specifically in that role helping guys tweak things in the lab. 

     

  • JustSayin' 4 days 5 hours ago (view)

    Does anyone have insight into the new management hires and musical chairs the Cubs announced yesterday?  Craig Breslow might be the only guy out there with extensive MLB experience AND the grey matter to challenge any quant not making sense. His role intrigues me but are they going to give him real responsibility to clear out the deadwood (including the existing minor league coordinator who was never good enough to be the pitchers he's coaching?)  Or, is this a superficial change aimed at keeping ownership off Theo's back? 

     

  • Arizona Phil 4 days 6 hours ago (view)

    BRADSBEARD: I think the Cubs want to retain Oscar de la Cruz post-2019, just not on the MLB 40-man roster.