Andrew Miller Rumors

NL West Rumors: Morse, Rosario, Rockies, Padres

The latest from the NL West..


East Notes: Yankees: Byrd, Orioles

Now that David Robertson has agreed to terms with the White Sox, the Yankees should forget about traditional closer usage and instead use their best relievers situationally, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes. Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances don’t have significant track records as closers, but established free agent closers like Jason Grilli and Sergio Romo aren’t better pitchers than Miller or Betances. So if the Yankees sign someone like Grilli or Romo, they should treat them only as potential options to pitch in save situations, not as closers in the usual sense. Here are more notes from the East divisions.

  • Marlon Byrd is a good fit for the Orioles, but the Phillies shouldn’t give him up freely, Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com writes. Byrd is a quality hitter on a reasonable and relatively short-term contract, so his age (37) should not be a major detriment. If the Phillies can’t get the right return for Byrd, they shouldn’t trade him, Seidman suggests. The two teams met to discuss Byrd yesterday.
  • Orioles manager Buck Showalter marvels at this offseason’s spending by Baltimore’s fellow AL East teams, Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com writes. “They run out of money yet? God bless them, that’s the system. If we were in their shoes, we’d do the same thing,” says Showalter. “We just have to be good at some things that allow us to compete with them.” The Orioles have been relatively quiet this offseason while the Red Sox have spent heavily on Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, the Blue Jays on Russell Martin, and the Yankees on Andrew Miller.

Pitching Notes: Miller, Giants, Cards, Masterson, Axford

Before he joined the Yankees, the Astros actually offered Andrew Miller a deal that included not only four guaranteed years but also a fifth-year option, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports on Twitter. It remains to be seen how Houston will reallocate the funds it had earmarked for the lefty.

  • If the Giants miss on Jon Lester, they are more likely to go to the next tier of free agent pitchers than to go all out for Max Scherzer, per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). San Francisco could aim for options of the ilk of Ervin Santana and Francisco Liriano, says Shea, though it is not clear if those illustrative names or particular targets.
  • The Cardinals met with Scherzer at some point over the offseason and are at least weighing a run at him, Jon Heyman of CBSSportscom reports. It remains something of a longshot that Scherzer will land in St. Louis, Heyman notes, though the fact that he is from the area can’t hurt.
  • The Red Sox met with Justin Masterson over the weekend, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports on Twitter. The Twins, meanwhile, have not managed to gain traction with Masterson’s camp, Wolfson adds.
  • The MarlinsWhite Sox, and possibly Cubs will also sit down with Masterson in San Diego, Heyman reports.
  • Reliever John Axford has drawn interest from the Reds, though nothing is close and there are other teams involved, according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com.


Details On The Pursuit And Signing Of Andrew Miller

Southpaw reliever Andrew Miller is headed to the Yankees. GM Brian Cashman addressed the signing in a conference call, and his comments will appear shortly in a separate post.

Here are some notable links regarding the signing:

  • The Astros and Red Sox appear to have been the other finalists for Miller. Houston was in it “to the end,” Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. In fact, the Astros were the high bidder, and were the team that had a $40MM offer out for the lefty, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports on Twitter.
  • There are conflicting reports on just how high Boston was willing to go. The team made a four-year offer that Miller “strongly considered,” according to Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com. On the other hand, GM Ben Cherington left Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (Twitter link) with the impression that his club was not willing to bid up to the level of the Yankees and Astros, and may not have offered a fourth year. And Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald tweets that the Sox were not willing to guarantee the final year of the pact.
  • UPDATEThe Red Sox were willing to go to four years at a lower AAV, with more incentives involved, per a tweet from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. And indeed a four-year offer was on the table, Cafardo tweets.
  • The Dodgers were not willing to add a fourth year, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Contract length also played a role in the team’s decision not to push for Zach Duke, though Los Angeles had interest in him, Rosenthal adds.
  • One reason that the Yankees upped their bid for Miller was that the team found other possible upgrades to be too expensive, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. Cashman told reporters that the team added $4MM to its offer upon learning that Miller had $40MM on the table.
  • In an interview with Rosenthal, Miller explained that the Yankees were able to offer a total package that no other team could. Specifically, Miller said that he placed a high value on the fact that the Yankees train in the Tampa area, where he lives. He also feels comfortable staying in the AL East. “Money wasn’t everything,” Miller explained. The teams that negotiated with us were fully aware of that as well. In the total package, the Yankees had the best offer for me personally.” Miller added that the Astros made a very appealing overall bid.

Brian Cashman On Andrew Miller, Didi Gregorius

The Yankees addressed two major needs earlier today when they completed a three-team deal to land shortstop Didi Gregorius and later signed reliever Andrew Miller to a four-year, $36MM deal.  Since the Miller deal came to light, some have wondered whether he will displace free agent David Robertson as the team’s closer.  In a conference call earlier today, GM Brian Cashman left the door open for Robertson but also made it clear that he’ll be addressing other needs as well.

We’ll wait and see.  We’re still evaluating all opportunities in this market place,” Cashman said.  “We need to address the left side of the infield, the starting rotation, finding a fourth outfielder…we’ll evaluate every opportunity that comes our way and with all the moving pieces that we have going on, we have to take a serious interest in all of those things and I can’t predict how that will go.

If one thing is for certain in Cashman’s mind, it’s that there is plenty more work to be done this winter.  He told reporters that he is in “acquisition mode” this offseason as the Yankees look to take care of their multiple needs.  Still, he won’t prioritize one area over another as intends to pounce on whatever opportunities and strong fits come his way.

Of course, he trimmed down the checklist a good amount today with the acquisitions of Miller and Gregorius.  As Cashman explained, his pursuit of the young shortstop has been going on for some time.

He’s a young athletic shortstop and his defense is very good.  He’s struggled against left-handed pitching and we believe he hits right-handed pitching well, so I think at the very least, we open up 2015 with him in a platoon with Brendan Ryan until he separates himself.  So, the high end projection is that we think there’s more in the tank there as he continues to develop. We think he’s an exciting talent, but honestly he’s not a finished product.

He’s someone we targeted not just this winter, but in past seasons, both with the old regime and the new regime.  I had to go through another club to get my hands on him.  We believe we’re in a better place than we were before we had him,” Cashman explained.

Even though Cashman was happy to finally get his man, it was difficult for him to part with right-hander Shane Greene in order to make it happen.  In the end, Cashman felt that Greene established himself as a promising talent after last season, but that was the price he had to pay in order to get an up-and-coming player at a premium position.

While today’s acquisitions will be counted on for big performances in 2014, Cashman knows that it’ll be even more crucial for the Bombers to get strong play out of their veterans coming back from injury.  Alex Rodriguez‘s name was mentioned alongside the likes of Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, and Brian McCann, but he was noticeably left out when Cashman noted that he has one possibility to play third base (Martin Prado) on the roster.  When asked to expand, Cashman explained that he’s only hoping for, not banking on, A-Rod to be a factor at third base.

I think it’s every color on the rainbow.  The extreme hope is that you can get the middle of the lineup bat to play third whenever you want, if not all the time.  The worst case scenario is that he’s no longer a third baseman and doesn’t have that bat and you’re looking other places,” said the GM.

Ultimately, Prado could wind up being slotted in at second or third base and Cashman sounded like someone who was equally open to either possibility.   Figuring out a solution for one of those two positions will be amongst the Bombers’ top priorities going forward, but the crazy nature of the baseball offseason means that Cashman will have to be equal parts proactive and reactive in filling the team’s holes.  Whether the Yankees put more resources into the infield or, say, fortifying the starting rotation will hinge on what opportunities present themselves in the coming weeks.

I will gravitate faster to whatever presents itself as the most interesting option.  I will have to act accordingly because there are many teams with the same needs as us,” Cashman said.


Yankees Sign Andrew Miller

5:27pm: Miller will receive a straight $9MM annual salary, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The deal does not include any options.

2:38pm: Earlier today the Yankees acquired Didi Gregorius in a three-team trade, and that was just the beginning of the splash they’re making, as they’ve now also announced the signing of Andrew Miller to a four-year contract. Miller, a client of Frontline Athlete Management, will reportedly receive a $36MM guarantee, but the contract does not include a no-trade clause.

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The 29-year-old Miller (30 next May) broke out in a huge way in 2014, pitching to a 2.02 ERA with an eye-popping 14.9 K/9 (an AL record), 2.5 BB/9 and a 46.9 percent ground-ball rate in 62 1/2 innings for the Red Sox and Orioles. He went on to throw another 7 1/3 shutout innings with an 8-to-1 K/BB ratio in the postseason as well. Miller will pair with Dellin Betances — an electric breakout story himself — at the back of the Yankee bullpen, giving manager Joe Girardi a pair of dominant late-inning options. Joel Sherman of the New York Post expects Miller to be used to close games, but not exclusively, as Betances will likely be in the mix for save opportunities as well (Twitter link).

Of course, Girardi is accustomed to that feeling, as he was able to enjoy excellent work from David Robertson and Mariano Rivera from 2011-13, and then Robertson and Betances this past season. The Miller signing doesn’t necessarily preclude the Yankees from retaining Robertson, as some reports have indicated that it’s at least possible for GM Brian Cashman to spend to bring both elite relievers to the Bronx. That would give the Yankees a Royals-esque late-inning trio, though the team may also simply replace Robertson with Miller and collect a draft pick when their closer signs elsewhere.

Miller’s contract is the largest ever for a non-closing reliever — a nice feather in the cap of agent Mark Rodgers. Rafael Soriano had previously signed a three-year, $35MM contract to set up for the Yankees, though he had prior closing experience. Scott Linebrink signed a four-year, $19MM contract with the White Sox that was the largest guarantee for a setup man that had never closed.

As excellent as Miller was in 2014, the contract is clearly not without risk for the Yankees. Setting aside the volatile nature of all relievers, this past season marked the first year in which Miller displayed above-average control and was also the first in which he was allowed to face both right-and left-handed hitters in a full setup capacity. Miller averaged 4.7 walks per nine innings from 2012-13 (5.0 in 2013) and totaled just 71 innings in that time due to a combination of a more limited role and injuries. Miller suffered a lis-franc fracture in his foot in 2013 and missed time in 2012 with a strained hamstring. This past season he faced 144 righties and 98 lefties, but in 2013 he faced a much more even 73 righties and 62 lefties. In 2012, he was deployed mostly as a lefty specialist, pitching to 102 left-handed hitters and just 67 right-handed batters.

The Miller situation has likely handcuffed the free agent reliever market to some extent. As many as 23 clubs showed interest in him, though in recent days it seemed that the Astros, Dodgers and Yankees were among the final clubs standing. With one of the top two names off the board — Robertson being the other — more relief signings figure to trickle in, especially considering the fact that Robertson’s market figures to be limited to a smaller number of teams, given his higher asking price.

Jack Curry of the YES Network first tweeted news of the agreement and the terms of the contract. ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted the lack of a no-trade clause.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Andrew Miller Decision Expected Today

Teams are expecting Andrew Miller to make his decision today, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman adds that the Yankees are willing to guarantee a fourth season if it limits the average annual value of the contract.

Miller has been connected to the Yankees, Dodgers and Astros in the past 48 hours, with the Red Sox and Orioles said to have bowed out the bidding. More recently, the Astros were reported to be an unlikely destination for Miller, who is expected to receive a four-year contract that could approach $40MM. That amount (or anything close to it) would easily set the record for largest guarantee and highest AAV for a non-closing relief pitcher.


Orioles Notes: Markakis, Outfielders, Young, Miller, Hitting Coach

Orioles GM Dan Duquette talked shop with fans earlier tonight at a team function. After a week in which outfielders Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis signed with new teams, the focus is on the O’s next step. Although Baltimore will miss the pair of outfielders, they still have money to spend, tweets Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. Here’s more from Duquette’s Q&A session.

  • A deal with Markakis was “fairly close a couple times,” tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. However, concern over a herniated disc may have disrupted negotiations (tweet). Asked why a qualifying offer was made to Cruz and not Markakis, Duquette responded by saying Cruz’s production justified the offer, tweets Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com
  • In a series of tweets from Encina (links to Twitter), Duquette is comfortable with internal outfield options like Alejandro De Aza, David Lough, and Steve Pearce. On the farm, Dariel Alvarez and Mike Yastrzemski could play a role next season, although both may benefit from additional seasoning. The club will focus on upgrading the outfield and bullpen.
  • The Orioles and free agent Delmon Young have “dialogue going,” per Kubatko (tweet). The 29-year-old outfielder was effective for the O’s in a limited role last season. Among the highlights, he hit .302/.337/.442 in 255 regular season plate appearances and had a couple clutch hits during the postseason.
  • On the subject of reliever Andrew Miller, 23 clubs showed interest, tweets Kubatko. Duquette stressed that the Baltimore market isn’t ideal for a highly paid reliever, which is why they are not among the finalists.
  • Duquette mentioned that interviews for the  club’s hitting coach job were ongoing, tweets Encina. Some have already been conducted while others will be held during the upcoming Winter Meetings. No word yet on specific candidates.

Andrew Miller Nearing Decision

TODAY, 7:59am: Miller is expected to make a decision today or tomorrow, an executive who had been involved with the bidding tells Sherman (Twitter link).

YESTERDAY, 10:00pm: The Astros appear unlikely to land Miller, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports.

9:40pm: New York appears to be willing to give Miller a fourth year, Heyman adds on Twitter.

8:08pm: The Yankees appear to be one of two or three finalists, Heyman writes. He says that the Dodgers seem to be back in the pack now, while the Astros remain a “possible threat.” The Red Sox, meanwhile, “seem to be out on Miller at the moment,” according to Heyman.

2:25pm: Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the Yankees do have serious interest in Miller, but their stance is much the same as it is regarding David Robertson: they’ll give three guaranteed years but are hesitant to lock in the fourth season.

1:38pm: Andrew Miller is moving closer to a contract that will guarantee him close to $40MM over a four-year term, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, and the Yankees and Dodgers are two of the teams in play. Heyman writes that the Red Sox appear to be out of the bidding at this point, and Miller could reach an agreement within the next 48 hours.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports recently indicated that the Red Sox are still showing strong interest, and he also listed the Astros as a club with serious interest. The 29-year-old Miller is coming off an elite season in which he posted a combined 2.02 ERA with 14.9 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 62 1/3 regular season innings between the Red Sox and Orioles. He added 7 1/3 scoreless frames with an 8-to-1 K/BB ratio in the postseason as well.

The proposed figures would shatter the record for a non-closing reliever. Scott Linebrink previously signed a four-year, $19MM with the White Sox, which stands out as the largest guarantee. Tim Dierkes made a fairly aggressive four-year, $32MM projection back in late October, and it seems that Miller is poised to top that number.


Free Agent Notes: Melky, Ervin, Headley, Miller, Soto

The Royals have reached out to a familiar name in the form of Melky Cabrera, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. It’s not clear if the Royals are able to afford Cabrera, who is said by Heyman to be seeking “at least” a five-year deal. He notes that the Reds have also contacted Cabrera’s camp. Additionally, Heyman lists the Mariners, Orioles and White Sox as speculative fits. Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet tweets that the Blue Jays are still in touch with Cabrera as well. As many have pointed out, Toronto has just three outfielders on its 40-man roster at present. I profiled Cabrera in early October and projected a five-year deal worth just over $66MM.

Some more notes from the free agent market…

  • Also seeking a five-year deal is right-hander Ervin Santana, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney. Santana is among the best of the bunch in the second tier of free agent starters, and he’s been rumored to have mutual interest with the Royals. However, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets that the Royals’ comfort level is at three years with Santana. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes projected a four-year, $56MM contract for Santana.
  • Continuing on the theme of five-year contracts, Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York reports that the Yankees aren’t willing to give Chase Headley a five-year deal, and it’s believed by some that five years is now his asking price in the wake of both Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez signing in Boston. An alternative for the Yankees, Matthews writes, is to play Martin Prado at third base regularly and give prospect Rob Refsnyder a chance to be the everyday second baseman.
  • The Yankees, Red Sox and Astros are all continuing to show strong interest in free agent lefty Andrew Miller, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Miller is believed to be headed for a four-year deal, and the Astros have been somewhat surprisingly linked to him and fellow top reliever David Robertson.
  • Geovany Soto is currently talking to five or six teams, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. A reunion between Soto and the Rangers is a definite possibility, per Cotillo. The free agent market for catchers has few options remaining, putting Soto in a relatively good spot.
  • Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that 10 teams, including the Tigers, have reached out to free agent righty Ronald Belisario after he was designated for assignment by the White Sox and chose to elect free agency (Twitter link). Belisario has a track record of success but struggled in 2014 despite maintaining his velocity and ground-ball rate.
  • Nyjer Morgan is eyeing a return to the Majors and has drawn interest from both MLB and Asian clubs, tweets Cotillo. The 34-year-old spent a bit of time with the Indians last season but had his Cleveland tenure cut short by injury.