The Cubs traded have acquired 25-year-old righty Alec Mills from the Royals in exchange for 2015 second-round draftee Donnie Dewees, the team announced Wednesday evening.
Mills, a starting pitcher, was recently DFA’d by the Royals to clear space on the 40-man roster (necessitated by the Jason Hammel signing), prompting the Cubs to trade a positional prospect for MLB-ready pitching depth.
Dewees, 23 years old, rates as a below-average 40/80 future value player because he lacks exception power and plate discipline. In his first stint at high A-ball, he struck out at a 21.9% rate, walked at a 6% rate, and only had a .134 ISO. FanGraphs compares Dewees to former Cub Sam Fuld, whose similar lacks didn’t bode well for a long MLB career.
While Dewees’ estimated debut is in 2018, Mills already experienced big-league action in 2016, when he logged 3.1 innings of relief work. Prior to being called up, the righty pitched 67.2 innings in AA and 58.0 innings in AAA last year. While he had an impressive 2.39 ERA, 2.13 FIP, 9.04 K/9, 1.60 BB/9, and 0.27 HR/9 in AA, he failed to repeat the same performance in AAA. He finished a stint at the highest level of the minors with a 4.19 ERA, 4.74 FIP, 8.38 KK/9, 2.95 BB/9, and 1.24 HR/9.
Mills projects as a middle-relief prospect who also could see action as a back-end starter. Here’s the most recent FanGraphs draft report on him:
Purely a relief prospect. Mills’ fastball sits 91-94 and he complements it with an average changeup in the low 80s (it lacks plane but does have some run) and an above-average slurve in the upper 70s. He projects as a middle-relief piece but could also be a sixth starter/up-and-down arm, as he does throw enough strikes to start but doesn’t have the pinpoint command to make his stuff play multiple times through the lineup.
I found it particularly interesting that FanGraphs suggested he could be a super utility pitcher, which is a role Joe Maddon and the front office seem to embrace.
Personally, I really dig the move because the Cubs traded away a low-level hitter with little projection for immediate pitching depth. Mills’s consistently above-average strikeout rate in the minors suggests that he might have the stuff necessary to get MLB hitters out, but the homers and spike in walks during AAA is cause for concern. Still, he is young enough that, with the right instruction, he could see time at Wrigley as another 6th starting option.