The Milwaukee Brewers have reportedly been in the market for a closer since trading Tyler Thornburg at the Winter Meetings, so naturally this evening the club announced that they’ve signed a left-handed starting pitcher. The Brewers have reached an agreement with 29 year old Tommy Milone for a one-year major league contract, which is reportedly not guaranteed. His addition fills the 40 man roster. Interestingly enough, the first report of this signing was from a user on the website Reddit last night.
Milone was originally a 10th round pick by the Nationals back in 2008 and made his major league debut with Washington back in 2011. He’s since been traded twice - from Washington to Oakland and from the A’s to Minnesota - but he has generally been a reliable back-of-the-rotation option and owns a career 4.14 ERA (95 ERA+) and 4.25 DRA across 688.1 MLB innings covering 129 appearances (118 starts). He’s posted marks of 6.4 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 with a ground ball rate of 38.8%.
Milone struggled mightily in 2016, however, ultimately leading to Minnesota outrighting him off the 40 man roster and into free agency. He made 19 appearances (12 starts) and could manage only a 5.71 ERA in 69.1 innings pitched. A DRA of 4.66 suggests that he was a touch unlucky, however, and his 6.4 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 weren’t too far off his career averages. Milone did see a significant jump in hard contact allowed, however (35.6%), and a subsequent increase in home runs allowed (1.9 HR/9), though he’s always had a bit of a tendency to allow the long ball (career 1.3 HR/9).
Tommy doesn’t throw hard and relies heavily on his fastball (average velocity of 87.4 MPH in 2016, 87.3 career) and changeup, throwing those pitches a combined 86% of the time last season. His third pitch is a curveball, and he will also rarely throw a two-seamer and cutter. He stands at an even 6 feet tall and weighs in at 220 lbs, and throws from a high-three quarters arm slot.
According to GM David Stearns, Milone will come to camp hoping to win a spot in the starting rotation. He’ll join an already crowded group that includes Junior Guerra and Zach Davies at the top of the rotation along with Jimmy Nelson, Wily Peralta, Matt Garza, and Chase Anderson, which could perhaps portend a forthcoming trade. The #2016BrewersAce has already reportedly received plenty of interest, and the Brewers would surely love to be able to move Garza’s $12.5 mil salary. Milone could be viewed as a bullpen option if he fails to crack the starting five and indeed is now only the second lefty on the 40 man roster with big league experience, with Brent Suter being the other. He’s handled lefties (.323 wOBA) and righties (.327 wOBA) with about equal effectiveness during his career. With Milone’s deal being non-guaranteed, the club could simply cut ties with him without any repercussions should he struggle in spring training, as well, so there’s hardly reason for the Brewers to feel pressure to deal from their starting pitching depth.
Milone will enter 2017 with less than five years of MLB service time and could be controlled through the end of the 2018 season, should the Brewers so choose. Milone was projected to earn $4.9 mil in arbitration by MLB Trade Rumors, but his contract with Milwaukee will almost surely be for a lighter sum.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs, Baseball-Reference, and Baseball-Prospectus