Tommy Milone Rumors

Twins Notes: Buxton, Milone, Suzuki, Willingham

Twins GM Terry Ryan was on-hand in New Britain tonight to see top prospect Byron Buxton‘s Double-A debut, but the evening took a scary turn for the five-tool center fielder. Buxton collided with right fielder Mike Kvasnicka and was unconscious on the field for roughly 10 minutes before being driven away in an ambulance and has been diagnosed with a concussion, Ryan said on the MiLBtv broadcast (Twitter links via MiLB.com’s Ash Marshall). It’s been a lost season for the consensus top prospect in baseball, who had already missed much of the season with wrist injuries. Ryan notes that the injury could have been much worse, and reports indicate that Kvasnicka, a Minnesota native whom the Twins acquired from the Astros in minor trade last season, was able to walk off the field (though he, too, was taken to the hospital as a precaution).

More links on what has been a scary night for the Twins organization…

  • Recently acquired left-hander Tommy Milone tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he isn’t worried about the fact that the Twins may have stashed him in the minor leagues for a week in order to delay his free agency by a season. Milone will finish the year just shy of three full years of service time but said, “…as long as I’m here, I’m happy. You never know what’s going to happen four years from now.” As Berardino points out, Milone will still qualify for arbitration this offseason as a Super Two player, which lessens the sting a bit. Berardino notes that both Travis Wood and Ivan Nova had comparable ERAs and innings totals to Milone heading into arbitration, and the duo received first-time salaries of $3.9MM and $3.3MM, respectively.
  • Berardino also summarizes the Twins’ trades to this point, noting that the club saved approximately $7.93MM by trading Kendrys Morales, Kevin Correia and Josh Willingham. He also has a third piece noting that Kurt Suzuki is on pace to earn all $500K of his playing time bonuses after already receiving a $25K bonus for making the All-Star team. That would boost his salary from $2.75MM to $3.275MM.
  • Speaking of Willingham, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer runs down some reasons that the Indians neglected to claim the former Twin on waivers — a decision that resulted in the division-rival Royals landing him. The Indians, who had interest in Willingham as a free agent back in 2011-12 and recently lost David Murphy and Nick Swisher to the DL, didn’t want to pay the remaining $2MM on Willingham’s contract. They also were hesitant about his injury history and didn’t want to block playing time from younger players.

AL Central Links: May, Milone, Pestano, Garcia

All signs point to the Twins promoting Trevor May to make Saturday’s start against the A’s, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. The 24-year-old was acquired from the Phillies in 2012’s Ben Revere trade, and he’s seen his command steadily improve since joining the Twins organization. May’s ERA has dropped accordingly, and he’s currently sporting a 2.93 mark through 95 1/3 innings at Triple-A this season. With Vance Worley now in Pittsburgh, May is the lone piece remaining from that deal. Having averaged 10.5 K/9 in his minor league career, May could prove to be a valuable addition for a Twins team that’ has long been starved for power arms.

Here’s more on the Twins and the AL Central…

  • Recently extended catcher Kurt Suzuki influenced the Twins‘ decision to acquire Tommy Milone from the A’s, reports John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link). Suzuki, who has caught Milone numerous times as a former member of the A’s, made pitch to manager Ron Gardenhire, pitching coach Rick Anderson and bench coach Terry Steinbach — all of which were presumably relayed to the front office.
  • Following today’s trade of Vinnie Pestano to the Angels, Indians GM Chris Antonetti offered the following statement to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (Twitter link): “Vinnie was a very valuable member of the organization who made some great contributions to our bullpen throughout his time with us. As we’ve had [Major League] bullpen opportunities over the course of the last month, we’ve promoted other pitchers from [Triple-A] Columbus, so we thought it made sense to give Vinnie a fresh start with the Angels. In return, we acquired a young pitcher who we think has a chance to help our Major League team in the next few years.” For his part, Pestano is excited about the fresh start, particularly due to the fact that he is a SoCal native. In a classy series of thank you tweets to the Indians organization, Pestano, who was born in Newport Beach, noted that he couldn’t imagine a better destination for a trade.
  • MLB.com’s Scott Merkin writes that Avisail Garcia‘s aggressive approach to his rehab from a shoulder injury has impressed the White Sox. Garcia’s injury was thought to be season-ending back in April, but an August return now looks possible. Merkin notes that the move could create an interesting roster decision, though GM Rick Hahn has noted that he will pursue August trades, so a roster spot could be created that way.

Central Links: McCutchen, Baez, Milone, Santana

While it remains unclear exactly how long Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates will be out of action with a rib fracture, any significant lost time will obviously have an impact on the tight NL Central race. As Mike Petriello of Fangraphs writes, Pittsburgh will be absent McCutchen at a time when wins are at a premium. It will be interesting to see whether the team considers a move to add another outfielder to the mix.

  • Cubs call-up Javier Baez flipped the narrative on his debut by homering after an 0-for-5 start. Of course, you could call that performance right in line with expectations; as Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America wrote yesterday, big power and lots of strikeouts are likely as Baez adjusts to the big leagues. Meanwhile, the promotion carries broader implications for Chicago, as ESPN.com’s Keith Law explains (Insider link). By moving Baez onto the 40-man roster before they need to, and likely foregoing the chance to tack on additional years of control, the Cubs are starting the clock on their efforts to transition from rebuilding to contending. Given the state of the team’s MLB rotation and generally less-developed pitching prospects, that could make the team a player on the free agent market this year, says Law.
  • It appears that the Twins have kept recently-acquired starter Tommy Milone in Triple-A to keep him from reaching a third year of service, explains Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN. With 2.018 on his service clock entering the year, and having been on optional assignment since July 5, Milone is now set up to fall short of the three years needed to qualify for arbitration via the standard route. Though a quick call-up would likely put Milone in line for an extra arb trip as a Super Two, he will nevertheless be subject to team control for four more years.
  • Twins shortstop Danny Santana has a .318/.355/.488 slash through 215 plate appearances, far and away the best line he has maintained as a professional (in spite of the fact that he just made the leap to the big leagues for the first time). Regardless of what happens in the rest of the 23-year-old’s career, it seems fair to say that the meager signing bonus that landed him back in 2007 was well worth it. A club official says Santana signed for just $45K, while Santana’s representatives indicate it was only $37K, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN.


Slusser’s Latest: Cespedes, Milone, Fuld

Here’s some background news and notes on the Athletics’ big trade deadline moves from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle

  • It surprised many to see Yoenis Cespedes traded yesterday, but Slusser reports that the A’s were planning on dealing the outfielder this offseason anyway since the club didn’t think they would be able to extend him.  Cespedes has a contract option that allows him to become a free agent following the 2015 season.  In another piece, Slusser notes that “there never were very extensive talks” between Cespedes and the A’s about an extension.
  • Sam Fuld was the only Major League player being offered by any of the teams interested in Tommy Milone, which is why the A’s swung the deal with the Twins to provide immediate outfield help given Coco Crisp and Craig Gentry‘s injury problems.
  • Slusser notes that Oakland plans to keep Fuld for 2015, and he isn’t just a temporary solution while Gentry is on the DL with a broken hand.
  • The Athletics are still looking to add a second baseman before the August 31st trade deadline.

Athletics, Twins Swap Tommy Milone, Sam Fuld

The Twins have officially acquired lefty Tommy Milone from the A’s in exchange for outfielder Sam Fuld, the teams have announced.

Tommy Milone

Milone (pictured) lost his rotation spot with the Athletics earlier this month when the team acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, and any hope of him regaining that spot likely faded with Oakland’s morning acquisition of Jon Lester. The 27-year-old Milone had asked to be traded somewhere that he had a chance to start, and Minnesota certainly fits that bill. Specifically, the spacious Target Field seems a good fit for Milone’s fly-ball arsenal.

Milone had pitched to a solid 3.55 ERA with 5.7 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 38.4 percent fly-ball rate in 96 1/3 innings this season. He owns a 3.84 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and 36.8 percent ground-ball rate in 468 2/3 innings for the Nationals and Athletics. He is eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason and can be controlled through the 2017 campaign. For the time being, Milone will report to Triple-A Rochester, per the Twins. However, 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson tweets that it may be a procedural move more than anything. Milone just pitched Tuesday and is expected to be with the Twins soon, Wolfson hears.

Milone will add to a growing crop of Major League ready arms for the Twins, who have Alex Meyer and Trevor May knocking on the door at Rochester. Though several current members of the Major League staff have underperformed, including Kevin Correia, Ricky Nolasco and Mike Pelfrey (the latter two are currently on the DL), Minnesota could have a wildly different rotation in 2015.

Interestingly, the Twins claimed Fuld off waivers from Oakland earlier this year when he was designated for assignment. Presumably, he can form some form of platoon with the newly acquired Jonny Gomes in order to fill in for the now-departed Yoenis Cespedes.

The 32-year-old Fuld has been excellent for the Twins in 2014, slashing .274/.370/.354 with a homer, a dozen steals (in 15 attempts) and standout defense in both left and center field. In addition to platooning with Gomes, he can serve as a center field option for the A’s with Craig Gentry on the disabled list and Coco Crisp currently ailing. Fuld is a career .240/.323/.337 hitter and can be controlled via arbitration through the 2016 campaign.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that Milone was headed to Minnesota (Twitter link), and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported that Fuld was going back to Oakland (on Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


NL East Rumors: Marlins, Phillies, Byrd, Bastardo

After a glance at the Mets earlier this evening, here’s a look at other items out of the NL East..

  • The Marlins are eyeing controllable pitchers and they’re thought to be considering A’s lefty Tommy Milone, D’Backs’ lefty Wade Miley, and Padres right-hander Ian Kennedy, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.  Of course, if their three-game set against the Nationals doesn’t go well, they could wind up going the other way and selling.
  • Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd is no longer an option for the Royals and talks have stalled with the Mariners, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Byrd will only waive his no-trade clause if his 2016 option is exercised.
  • The Phillies are talking with multiple clubs about Byrd and reliever Antonio Bastardo and there’s a lot of action on both, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.

Tommy Milone Asks For Trade

Oakland’s acquisition of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel displaced left-hander Tommy Milone from the club’s rotation, and now the 27-year-old has asked the club for a trade, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Oakland has received multiple inquiries on Milone, but the team doesn’t feel inclined to move him, as he could be needed for future depth in the event of injuries or ineffectiveness. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that she now also hears that Milone has asked for a trade, but that won’t necessarily prompt the A’s to deal him.

It’s understandable that Milone would be frustrated with his demotion. As Rosenthal notes, July 5 marked the third time that Milone was sent to Triple-A Sacramento in the past calendar year, and it come on the heels of a stretch in which he went 6-0 with a 2.62 ERA in 11 starts.

Milone is not yet arbitration eligible — he will be this offseason — and is under control through the 2017 season. A soft-tossing southpaw (he’s averaged 87.3 mph on his fastball in his career), Milone has a 3.84 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and a 36.8 percent ground-ball rate in 468 2/3 Major League innings. The A’s originally acquired him from the Nationals as part of the Gio Gonzalez trade. He’s a client of Praver/Shapiro, as shown in MLBTR’s Agency Database.

Milone would appeal to a wide range of teams, as contending clubs in need of help at the back of their rotation could be interested, but rebuilding teams in need of controllable arms could look to acquire him as well.


Rosenthal’s Latest: Milone, Phillies, White Sox

The Cubs have the prospect depth necessary to acquire David Price from the Rays, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes, and acquiring Price (and then extending him past 2015) is just the kind of big move Rosenthal feels the Cubs need to get them into contention sooner rather than later.  Price is intrigued by the idea of playing in Chicago, friends of the southpaw say, and Cubs minor league pitching coordinator Derek Johnson was Price’s pitching coach at Vanderbilt.

Here’s some hot stove buzz from Rosenthal’s latest piece…

  • The Athletics are getting calls about left-hander Tommy Milone, who lost his rotation job when Oakland acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs.  The 27-year-old Milone is controlled through 2017 and has a 3.84 ERA, 3.23 K/BB rate and 6.5 K/9 over 468 2/3 career innings, though his significant home/road splits could make some teams wary about his effectiveness outside of Oakland.  The A’s aren’t too keen to move Milone since they value having rotation depth.
  • The Phillies are willing to eat some money on their major veteran contracts in order “to effectively buy prospects” in trades, though with teams so hesitant to move their young talent, Philadelphia might be better served by just pursuing salary relief.
  • Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon “is generating little interest,” sources tell Rosenthal.
  • Many of the would-be best trade chips on the White Sox aren’t producing, which could make it tough for the Pale Hose to make deadline deals.  Gordon Beckham and Alejandro De Aza, for instance, look more like non-tender candidates than valuable acquisitions in the view of one rival executive.  John Danks might be the most attractive trade candidate on the Chicago roster, while the Sox might wait until the winter to explore dealing Alexei Ramirez when the trade market is more open.
  • The Blue Jays‘ search for offense could be mitigated by the impending returns of Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie from the DL within the next week or two.  Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos said yesterday that he was still looking to add a bat before the trade deadline.
  • Eugenio Suarez has played well enough at shortstop that Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski doesn’t think his team will look for an upgrade at the position before the deadline.  Rosenthal notes that Suarez’s presence could create a bit of a logjam next season when Jose Iglesias returns from injury.
  • The Tigers do have a need for more lineup balance, as the team is short on left-handed hitters.
  • With so little prospect depth, Rosenthal thinks the Yankees‘ best trade strategy would be to offer salary relief for large contracts.  In hindsight, Rosenthal writes, the Yankees might’ve been better off trading Robinson Cano for prospects last summer, even though being a deadline seller is unheard of for the always-contending Yankees.

AL West Notes: Garza, Morales, Cruz, Lewis, Milone

In the wake of reports that the Angels made a four-year, $52MM offer to Matt Garza in December and pulled it before he could respond, Garza himself confirmed to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy that the Halos did make (and quickly pull) an offer. Garza says that he was on vacation with his wife, celebrating their anniversary: "I was on vacation with my wife and I didn’t want to be disturbed, and it was like, ‘Here it is, we’ll pull it in a certain amount of hours.’ I didn’t have a chance to respond, so I just said, ‘Whatever. It is what it is.'" Garza wound up receiving a slightly smaller guarantee from the Brewers ($50MM), though his deal could be worth as much as $67MM if his fifth-year option triggers and he maxes out his contract's incentives. Garza told McCalvy that upon meeting Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, he felt the club genuinely wanted to sign him, and that was a big factor in his decision.

Here's more from the AL West…

  • Don't rule out a return to the Mariners for Kendrys Morales, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Cafardo hears that the Pirates aren't willing to forfeit the draft pick they would need to sign Morales. He also hears that Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette can't get the financial go-ahead from owner Peter Angelos to meet Morales' asking price.
  • Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News wonders if it would be the best fit for all parties if Nelson Cruz returned to the Rangers on a one-year deal. Grant speculates on some contract specifics that could allow Cruz to earn more than the $14.1MM qualifying offer he rejected, and wonders it the two sides could agree in advance not to go the qualifying offer route next offseason.
  • Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis knows the timing of the flexor tendon injury that has shelved him for the last season-and-a-half was horrible (he was three months from free agency), but the 35-year-old is keeping his head up, writes ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett. Rather than lament his misfortune, Lewis instead said that he prefers to count his blessings: "Baseball has given me the opportunity to play and make good money and do it as long as I have."
  • Athletics lefty Tommy Milone might appear to be behind Scott Kazmir, Jarrod Parker, Sonny Gray, Dan Straily and A.J. Griffin on the depth chart, but he's been assured by manager Bob Melvin that he's in the running for a rotation spot, tweets John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group. The A's currently have six starters for five rotation spots, but there's been little talk of them trading an arm.

Extension Candidates: Milone & Parker

The Oakland Athletics have made a habit of extending pre-arbitration eligible starting pitching in the last decade or so. General manager Billy Beane has negotiated multiyear deals with many players, from Tim Hudson and Barry Zito ten-plus years ago, to Rich Harden and Dan Haren midway through the last decade, to current A's starter Brett Anderson.

Tommy Milone - A's (PW)

Here’s the template Beane has used most often: offer a promising, young starter a four-year contract covering his remaining pre-arbitration years and some arbitration years. The deals, typically valued in the $9-13MM range, tend to include club options for future arbitration and/or free agent seasons. The A’s take on the risk that the starters won’t be able to replicate their early-career successes in exchange for potentially discounted arbitration seasons and extended control of the players. Meanwhile, the players get substantial security in exchange for capping their earning potential for a period of four-plus seasons.

Should the A’s look to replicate past deals again this winter, the agents for Tommy Milone (pictured) and Jarrod Parker could soon be getting calls from Beane. Both starters were acquired in trades last offseason and both spent a full season at the MLB level for the first time in 2012, succeeding in prominent roles for the eventual AL West winners

Milone, a Praver/Shapiro client, pitched to a 3.74 ERA in 190 innings with Oakland in 2012. The 25-year-old left-hander struck out 6.5 batters per nine innings while walking 1.7 per nine and posting a 38.1% ground ball rate.

Parker, a 24-year-old Reynolds Sports Management client, posted a 3.47 ERA in 181 1/3 innings. A much harder thrower than Milone, Parker generated a few more strikeouts (6.9 K/9) and many more ground balls (44.3% ground ball rate) while allowing more walks (3.1 BB/9). 

Opposing hitters would tell you that the right-handed Parker is a different type of pitcher than Milone, and the two took markedly different paths on their way to the Oakland’s rotation. Still, they’re on track to be comparables in arbitration given their service time and basic statistics. In the context of extension talks that matters a great deal. Both pitchers are on track for arbitration eligibility after the 2014 season and free agency after the 2017 season.

As MLBTR's Extension Tracker shows, there's considerable precedent for contract extensions of four years or more for starting pitchers with between one and two years of MLB service. Anderson, Cory Luebke and Wade Davis all obtained $12-12.6MM for four-year deals that included multiple club options. Both A’s starters have more innings pitched than Luebke did at the time of his deal and better ERAs than Davis did at the time of his deal. Furthermore, both Milone and Parker have more innings and a better ERA than Anderson did at the time of his deal. It appears that Milone and Parker could obtain four-year deals worth more than $12.6MM, especially when taking inflation into account. In my view $14MM would be a more reasonable target for four guaranteed years.

To this point in the offseason, there haven’t been any rumors about the pair of A’s starters. But January, February and March tend to be active months for contract extensions, and Beane has shown repeated interest in extending successful young starters on multiyear deals. It won’t be surprising if the club discusses similar contracts with Milone and/or Parker in the coming months.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.