Free agent Andrew Miller is someone the New York Mets must seriously consider signing. What kind of deal could they land the veteran lefty for?
Wind the clocks back a few years to 2016. The current New York Mets skipper Mickey Callaway was pitching coach for the World Series-bound Cleveland Indians and on the July 31st trade deadline, Andrew Miller was sent his way.
Together, the two of them were a lethal combination. At the time of the trade, Miller was already having a career year. His first All-Star selection season, he posted a 1.39 ERA in 44 games with the Yankees, and his arrival in Cleveland helped solidify what was at the time, already one of the best pitching staffs in baseball.
Miller continued to enjoy success in Cleveland over the next year in a half with Callaway. Throughout the rest of 2016, Miller posted a 1.55 ERA with the Indians over 26 games, as well as an equally impressive 1.40 ERA in 19.1 innings over 10 games during Cleveland’s World Series run.
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In 2017, he continued on his success. Over 57 games and 62.2 innings, Miller logged a 1.44 ERA, earning him an All-Star appearance for the second year in a row, leading the AL Best 102 win Indians to the postseason for the second straight year.
In 2018, Mickey Callaway left the Indians and took over for Terry Collins as the Mets manager. Somewhat coincidentally, Miller’s productivity decreased from the All-Star statistics he had posted the previous 2 years. Missing almost 3 months of the season due to injuries, he only appeared in 37 games, pitching 34 innings with a 4.24 ERA. Miller was able to pitch for the Indians in the postseason and in 2 games, he did not allow a run against the eventual World Series Champion Astros.
With his time in Cleveland now coming to an end and Miller entering free agency this offseason, would he fit into the Mets plans?
There’s no other way to say it. The Mets bullpen last season was atrocious. After posting a whopping 4.96 ERA, good enough for 3rd worst in the league, one of our new GM Brodie Van Wagenen’s top goals this offseason should be to try and improve it.
With Miller coming off the best run of his career, despite a down year, I believe signing him could go a long way in improving the productivity of our relievers. As previously stated, he already has a relationship and successful track record with the Mets current Manager Mickey Callaway, and with any luck, reuniting the two could help him regain his prior form.
I do have a few reservations about signing Miller, however. One thing is his age. Miller will be 34 in May of next season, and while that isn’t terrible, I would be hesitant to sign him to a long-term deal.
Another one is his health. The reason he missed so much time last season was because he was on the DL with shoulder and knee injuries, and it’s not unreasonable to suggest it could be because of the heavy workload he has endured over his previous two All-Star years.
Even when he returned, he did still struggle, posting a 6.30 ERA in September, and while he didn’t allow any run in the two games against the Astros in the postseason, he allowed 3 walks in what amounted to 0.1 innings.
Taking an optimistic approach to that situation, it is possible that Miller rushed by from injury to help the Indians down the stretch and with a full offseason to fully recover, there’s a good chance that he can pitch much more efficiently come next April.
As I said before, the Mets overall bullpen ERA last year was 4.96 so even on a down year, Miller still outperformed the average Mets reliever. While I don’t recommend going after players based off of that standard alone, the bottom line with Miller is that while he did have an underwhelming season last year, there is still a lot of upside to signing him.
Miller was a consistent relief pitcher for many years and I, along with many others, still see a lot of value in him. Callaway is clearly a fan of his as well, and since the Mets are looking to make some serious upgrades in the bullpen, I think that he would be well worth considering.
My Proposed Contract Offer: 2 years $17 million, mutual option for a 3rd year
To me, this sounds like a fair offer. Previously, when Miller signed his last contract in 2015, it was for 4 years and $36 million dollars. Since then, he has pitched some of the best baseball of his career and if he had been a free agent in 2017 before his injury-plagued season, he probably would be seeking a much bigger deal.
This offer gives him reasonable pay for someone of his talents, at $8.5 million a year, and the opportunity to test free agency again at the end of the 2020 season. For the Mets, while the money may seem high, they have paid similarly for other, less productive players. For example, Jerry Blevins made $7 million last year for them with a 4.85 ERA.
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They may be gambling on an older player with a recent history of injuries, but a player known as one of the best southpaws in the game and reunited with one of his old coaches, Miller may very well surprise us and the Mets may end up with one of their key acquisitions in a hopeful postseason run.