What does $1 buy you these days? Not much, but for former Mesa Mountain View pitcher Brad Mills it purchased a ticket back to the major leagues.
Mills, who has logged 53 1/3 innings in four major-league stints in his seven-year career with Toronto and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, will pitch for American League West leader Oakland on Friday night (June 20) when the A's play host to Boston.
Five days ago, Mills was pitching on a minor-league contract with Milwaukee at the Brewers' Triple-A affiliate, the Nashville Sounds. He was enjoying success with a 4-2 record and 1.56 earned-run average in 14 appearances. Twelve of those 14 appearances were starts.
A clause in his contract kicked in June 15 allowing him to opt out or perhaps be dealt without compensation if another major-league team was interested and would place him on its 25-man roster. Oakland picked up the phone and while it was not required to pay anything, apparently coughed up $1. So in a sense, the A's did value Mills by paying any amount at all.
All the same, Mills was not upset realizing he'd become an Oakland Athletic for the price of soft drink at McDonald's.
"I thought it was a joke," Mills told Jane Lee, who covers the A's for MLB.com. "Whatever they had to do to make it official, I'm all for. I don't take it as a value of my worth as a ballplayer."
Mills is replacing Drew Pomeranz in Oakland's rotation. Pomeranz is on the 15-day disabled list after breaking his non-pitching hand after a tough outing last week. Had Mills opted out of his contract with Nashville, he would have been on his own in looking for a new team. Since the A's picked him up, they're taking care of the the Mills' family's moving expenses.
Mills sports a 3-3 record and 7.76 ERA in 10 major league starts, nine for the Toronto Blue Jays between 2009-2011, who drafted him in the fourth round in 2007. Mills also played for the Angels and with one start in 2012 and Texas Rangers before signing a minor-league deal with Milwaukee in January. Mills last appearance in the majors was in July 2012, the Sunday before the All-Star break. That day he threw five shutout innings and earned a win over Baltimore, allowing three hits and fanning six.
It's another in one of many bizzarre stories that bring players to the majors for the first time or perhaps a second or third. I know Brad Mills and his parents, Mark and Cindy. Covered Mills when he played at Mountain View a tad more than a decade ago. Believe me, it couldn't happen to a better family.