I love it: an interesting young arm becomes available earlier today, and BOOM, the Cubs immediately pounce and trade for him.
That is to say the Cubs have just acquired yet another upper-level pitching arm in righty Alec Mills, formerly of the Royals.
I don’t want to lead this off by tooting the BN horn, but I also don’t want to reinvent the wheel, since we just published this in the MLBits earlier tonight:
“And finally, the Royals recently designated right-handed pitcher Alec Mills for assignment, to make room for their newest starting pitcher Jason Hammel. The Royals will now have seven days to trade, waive, or release the 25-year-old. Mills, however, is no normal DFA. As MLB Trade Rumors puts it: ‘Mills, 25, is a semi-surprising DFA casualty for the Royals, as he made his MLB debut in 2016 on the heels of a solid season split between the Double-A and Triple-A levels.’ Mills wound up pitching only three innings of relief at the Major League level this year, but kept a 2.39 ERA (2.13 FIP) in 12 starts at Double-A and a 4.19 ERA across eleven starts (and one relief appearance) at Triple-A for the Royals last season.
Even still, he appears to be MLB ready. Indeed, Mills ranked 90th in the ZiPS Top 100 MLB Prospects for 2017 – a ranking system created solely from statistical projections. Given how dedicatedly the Cubs have been targeting upper minors starting pitcher depth, it wouldn’t be surprise to see them come calling, even after adding Eddie Butler. But don’t think it’ll come easy. For a guy like Mills – as it was with Butler – the league-wide interest should be sufficiently high that the Royals could ask for something notable in return.”
So, basically, all of that applies perfectly to tonight’s trade, as the Cubs picked up Mills in exchange for outfield prospect Donnie Dewees, who may not have broken out since the Cubs took him in the second round of the 2015 MLB Draft, but is still very much a legit prospect. He figured to be at least a top 20/25 type in the Cubs’ system when all of the lists were out, and he is probably top 15 to some evaluators.
We’ll have more on Mills soon, but the quoted portion up there should get you started. Given the rapidity with which the Cubs jumped on the opportunity to acquire Mills – and gave up a legit prospect in the process – you can be assured that they are intrigued.
Among the reasons the Cubs were probably particularly interested (as they were with Butler): Mills has minor league options remaining, meaning that the Cubs can send him to AAA Iowa to begin the season, adjust to his new organization, work on whatever the Cubs want him to work on, and be available as depth when bad things happen at the big league level.
What was once my greatest concern about the 2017 Cubs – lack of up-and-down arms at AAA who can take starts and offer upside – now looks like something approaching a strength. Well done, front office.
Well-travelled lefty David Rollins was designated for assignment (for the second time by the Cubs this offseason, alone) to make room on the 40-man roster for Mills.