Brad Mills was once a top prospect in the Blue Jays organization. After injuries and ineffectiveness halted his career he signed a minor league deal with the Brewers in the offseason. This deal included an opt-out clause allowing him to elect free agency if he was not on the major league roster by a certain date. That date is this Sunday.
Clearly there is no room for him in Milwaukee, but he's pitched well enough in Triple-A Nashville that someone might want him. He has struck out 26.1% of the batters he faced and only walked 6%. He's also limited home runs very effectively. He has never had very good velocity, but his deception helps make up for it. Unfortunately, his velocity probably makes him less appealing in a trade.
I highly doubt the Brewers could acquire a real prospect for him. I'm also skeptical that they could fetch a solid role player like Seth Smith, Matt Joyce, or even Emilio Bonifacio. The 40-man roster is full so they'd have to clear a space for that type of player, though depending on who they replace on the 25-man roster that could be an issue that takes care of itself. Regardless, I don't think it happens.
There is one more possibility that I find more viable. That would be to trade Brad Mills for another team's international bonus pool allotment. The international market restarts on July 2nd and the Brewers have been linked to top prospect Gilbert Lara. It was reported months ago that they have an unofficial agreement in place for $3.2 million.
That amount exceeds the Brewers allotment of $2,611,800. That means the Brewers either have to suck it up and take the penalty which includes paying a tax on the overage and limits on spending next year, or they can trade for other teams pool money to make up the difference.
Teams are allowed to trade slot bonuses to increase their pool money by 50%. They can't increase it by more so even if they acquire over 50% they can't spend it. The Brewers can increase their pool by $1,305,900. They would only need another $600,000 to cover the Lara signing if reports are accurate.
The Cubs and the Rangers both exceeded their total allotments last year and so this year they will be unable to spend more than $250,000 on any one prospect. They don't lose their slot bonuses though and can still trade them. I wonder if either would be interested in acquiring Mills?
The Cubs four slot bonuses are for $2+ million, $458,000, $309,300, and $206,700. The Rangers four slot bonuses are for $543,000, $366,600, $247,600, and $158,300. Teams are allowed to go over by 5% without having to face severe penalties so the Brewers don't need to acquire the exact amount they need to get to $3.2 million. It's possible the Cubs second slot value or the Rangers 1st would be all they need. Of course, they're not limited to deal with these two teams.
There is some precedent here. Last year, for example, the Mets acquired the Angels 2nd slot bonus for two organization prospects. Mills is almost 30 so while he's not exactly over the hill, he's no longer a prospect of any kind. However, he might be a 5th starter on some clubs or a left-handed reliever. Those guys stick around for a long time and could be valuable to some clubs.
I don't know if the Brewers are attempting anything like this, but I hope they are. Assuming the Gilbert Lara agreement is for real, acquiring slot bonuses has to be on their mind. We'll know soon enough as Sunday is the deadline.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs