Tommy Milone is a 27-year old left-hander who gets by on moxie. The career strikeout rate of 17.2% is downright Deduno-ish and the command isn't edging into the Carlos-Silva-of 2005 vicinity, so Milone's upside is fairly limited. But here's what makes him such a great get for Sam Fuld: he's a cost-controlled starter who will give the Twins 180 innings from the back of the rotation.
The Twins have stashed Milone in Triple-A, as Minnesota's big league rotation of Phil Hughes, Kyle Gibson, Yohan Pino, Kevin Correia, and Logan Darnell will continue unabated for the time being. For obvious reasons, though, that can't continue.
Coming changes are bountiful. Ricky Nolasco just kicked off his rehab stint in Cedar Rapids. Alex Meyer and Trevor May continue to have excellent seasons. Correia's season with the Twins could end at any time throughout the month of August, either because he's been traded or because the organization can no longer justify keeping better pitchers in the minor leagues. Milone's 3.84 ERA in 468.2 career innings seem to indicate he's a Major League pitcher. And as great as it is to have guys like Darnell, Johnson, and Pino available, they haven't had substantial experience for a reason.
How long can the Twins keep Milone in Triple-A? He was already in Triple-A with Oakland so it's not like he was immediately demoted upon being handed his trade papers. The Athletics had a lot of Major League pitching on their roster, which meant difficult decisions on players who wouldn't normally be asked to head back to the minor leagues. The acquisition of Jon Lester exacerbated the issue, obviously. In short: it's impossible to say how long Minnesota goes before calling up Milone. But my guess would be that he's called up within the next two weeks.
In fact, let's be bold: in the next two weeks, three of the current five-man Minnesota rotation will have been changed over. Hughes and Gibson will remain, but Correia, Darnell, and Pino will be exchanged for Nolasco, Milone, and May. I know that excludes Meyer, but I may have been wrong once or twice in the past and would be happy to be so again.
But that's just for the remainder of 2014. What about 2015 and beyond? Come February, this team will have a great deal more talent to sift through when choosing the big league rotation. Hughes, Nolasco, Gibson, Milone, Meyer, and May aren't quite Scherzer-Price-Sanchez-Verlander, but they'll do. With that kind of talent, the front office could decide to ride it out and let the sixth man sit in a long relief role. Or they could also choose to use that depth in an off-season trade to bring in a sorely needed bat.
It's a pivotal time for the Twins organization. A number of the system's best prospects will be vying for playing time in 2015, and the biggest task of the front office will be to surround them with established talent through trades and free agency. So while it's easy to say what the front office will plan to do with Milone for the rest of the season, talking beyond September brings us into murkier waters.
Trades will be made. Unforeseen circumstances will befall the roster. The Twins desperately need to get better, and for a guy like Milone that means there are no guarantees.