Update: Drew Pomeranz has suffered a fracture to his right (non-pitching) hand, and is headed to the DL. All the fun speculation below about whose spot Mills would be taking is now moot.
Update #2: One other minor note to tidy things up. As Mills was not on the 40-man roster, the A's can wait for Pom's spot in the rotation to make a 40-man move (Alcantara to the 60-day DL at some point soon seems likely). We likely won't see Mills on the team until Saturday, when his turn in the rotation will come up.
The A's have traded cash considerations (a whopping 100 cents) to the Milwaukee Brewers for Brad Mills, a left-handed starting pitcher. A 2007 fourth-round selection of the Blue Jays, Mills has no track record of success in the Major Leagues — his ERA over 76 big-league innings is an unsightly 7.76. However, he seems to be on to something with the Triple-A Nashville Sounds this year, as he sports an ERA of 1.56 in 75 innings and has averaged more than one strikeout per frame. At 29, Mills is classic A's material — a player with a high ceiling who didn't develop on schedule but, like a Josh Donaldson or Brandon Moss, still has substantial upside that the organization could look to take advantage of.
Where Mills fits into the Oakland organization remains a mystery — it's possible that Mills is seen as organizational filler, somewhat more likely that the A's intend to use him as the long man out of the bullpen (Jeff Francis simply hasn't been getting it done) or even give him a shot at some point in the rotation. Regardless, he adds a level of depth to Oakland's rotation that it previously lacked; now Mills and Dan Straily are both potential calls to make should a starter succumb to injury at some point this season.
This option doesn't sound likely, but it's being reported by one of the most prominent baseball writers out there:
Given the way Tommy Milone has pitched recently, Drew Pomeranz would be the pitcher demoted should Mills enter the starting five. Whether he's demoted to the bullpen or to Sacramento is another question entirely, but the A's certainly see him as a starter in the future and he was seen as a starter throughout his rise to the big leagues, despite spending the first month of 2014 pitching out of the bullpen.
The bottom line, though, is that regardless of his option situation and lack of an effective third pitch, Drew Pomeranz is pitching very well — last night's outing notwithstanding — especially for a relatively inexperienced fifth starter. His ERA is 2.91, but some peripheral stats do shed some doubt on the legitimacy of his performance. He's leaving 81.1 percent of runners on base, for instance, which is well above his career rate of 72.5 percent. His FIP is also 4.24, certainly a far cry from 2.91, and it's possible the A's front office simply wants to give him more time in AAA to grow.
Jeff Francis is likely out regardless — and if he's not out today, he'll be gone as soon as Eric O'Flaherty makes his long-awaited return from the disabled list. Francis' ERA is 7.11 following last night's game, and though a team that wins as often as the A's might not really need a long-reliever in the first place, Francis has shown that he's not the guy to fill the role, if the role even remains filled.