Oakland A's starting pitcher Tommy Milone has asked the team to trade him. Milone was demoted to Triple-A after Oakland acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel a couple weeks back, despite his having a strong season so far. Milone's thrown 96.1 innings this season, with a 3.55 ERA, which is above average, even when accounting for Oakland being a pitchers' park.
This request doesn't mean the A's will trade Milone, but I'm sure they're answering the phone.
Would Milone be an upgrade for the Indians?
Probably. Over the last three seasons Milone, a 27-year-old lefty, has established himself as a league average starter, and that's solid production from a #4 or 5 guy in the rotation. If I could snap my fingers and have Milone instead of T.J. House or Josh Tomlin, I would, and maybe even instead of Zach McAllister too. Those two are pretty close in overall value, but it'd be nice to have a southpaw in the rotation.
Kluber is way ahead of him obviously, and Bauer too. I'd rather roll the dice on Masterson bouncing back than have Milone, and Danny Salazar's ceiling is high enough that I'd probably rather have him in the rotation for the rest of this season as well, rolling the dice and all that. Still, that's only four guys.
Do the Indians have anyone who seems like a fit for Oakland?
It's hard to know for sure what the A's would want in exchange. On the one hand, they seem headed for the playoffs, and the Samardzija trade shows they're going for it this season. On the other hand though, Milone is basically just an insurance policy for them now, not someone they're counting on for this year. He'll be reaching arbitration soon, and if Billy Beane could get a younger future talent, he might go for it.
It wouldn't take one of the Tribe's top five prospects to land Milone, if Oakland is in fact interested in getting a prospect or two, and it might not even take anyone from the top ten.
If they prefer to get immediate help for the big league roster, the one clear need they have is for an upgrade at second base. Eric Sogard has been the primary guy there, with Nick Punto playing there a lot too. Those two have a combined batting average of .194 in their games at second base, with a grand total of one home run.
Asdrubal Cabrera's league-average batting would look Robinson-Canoesque in comparison, and a lot of teams would believe someone who can play passable defense at shortstop can do the same at second base. Cabrera is due only another ~$3.5 million this season, so it's not as though small-market Oakland couldn't fit him onto the payroll.
Should the Indians go after Milone?
He's under team control for another three years after this one, so this wouldn't be some sort of rental, and as I mentioned above, having a lefty in the rotation is worth a little bit (don't get carried away with that though, in the end a better pitcher is a better pitcher, whichever hand he throws with). He would upgrade the rotation a bit, I imagine.
Still, he doesn't really interest me that much. I think the upgrade he'd provide would be small, because I don't think he's any better than average, and the Indians fifth and sixth options right now aren't so much worse than that. MIlone's ERA/ERA+ have been right around average each year, but his FIP has gotten worse every season, and FIP has more predictive value than ERA. If go use FIP, Milone doesn't even look like an upgrade over McAllister or Tomlin, and isn't even that much better than House has been this season.
I think there's a tendency to want to see the team make some sort of move, to be trying to upgrade the roster, but I think any upgrade here would be very marginal.