One more quality relief arm is off the market, as lefty Andrew Miller has agreed to terms with the St. Louis Cardinals. Miller had an injury-plagued 2018 season, which may have affected his market. That said, receiving a multi-year deal is an interesting fit in a market that saw Jeurys Familia sign for three years and $30 million, while Joe Kelly went for a comparable three years and $25 million. Prior to his injury-ruined 2018, Miller was among the best relief assets in baseball. The numbers from 2014-2018:
The #STLCards have agreed to terms with free-agent left-handed relief pitcher Andrew Miller on a two-year (2019-20) deal with a vesting option for the 2021 season. #TimeToFly pic.twitter.com/2v6rfivKpq
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) December 21, 2018
Andrew Miller Signs with St. Louis Cardinals
After five dominant seasons, Miller’s devastating 2018 season saw him throw only 34 innings all year, enduring two separate DL placements totaling nearly three months. His overall production (2-4, 2 saves, a 4.24 ERA and 1.382 WHIP) represent a marked step backward for the relief ace. From 2017-18, Miller’s walks per 9 innings rose from 3.0 to 4.2, his strikeouts per 9 innings fell from 13.6 to 11.9, and his home runs per 9 innings jumped from 0.4 to 0.8. Right-handed batters were a special source of frustration for Miller last year, getting on base at a .352 clip (.328 career) and slugging a ridiculous .461, a .091 increase in ISO over his career marks.
However, it is obvious that Miller wasn’t signed for his 2018 season. He was signed for what he did in 2013-17. He was signed for his dominance in Cleveland’s 2016 World Series run. That run and his ensuing dominance in 2017 has been a catalyst for a changing relief landscape across baseball.
Clearly, the Cardinals believe that 2018 was the result of injury, and saw an opportunity to secure the services of one of the premier relievers on the market. If the injuries of 2018 are truly behind him and he can return to form, this contract represents an excellent investment for St. Louis. Even as a diminished version of himself, Miller’s production is still serviceable, and he brings veteran leadership and playoff experience to a team hungry for success in 2019.
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