The Twins and the agents for Yu Darvish, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, Wade Miley, Chris Tillman and Mike Napoli are “maintaining regular dialogue,” according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (on Twitter). Minnesota’s interest in nearly all of those names was already known before Saturday, though this is the first reported connection between the team and Miley.
While the Twins are seeking a front-end starter to complement their only reliable options – Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios – chief baseball officer Derek Falvey revealed this week that they’re also pursuing “value adds” for their rotation. The 31-year-old Miley would qualify as the latter, considering the struggles the left-hander has endured lately.
As a member of the Orioles in 2017, Miley made 32 starts to reach the 30 mark for the fifth straight year, but he averaged fewer than five innings per appearance and finished with 157 1/3 frames – the lowest full-season total of his career. He also notched personal worsts in ERA (5.61), FIP (5.27) and walks per nine (5.32). As a result, the Orioles decided after the season to decline Miley’s $12MM option for 2018 in favor of a $500K buyout, thus sending him to the open market.
Despite his impressive track record of durability, run prevention hasn’t been a strong suit for Miley for the majority of his career, which began in 2011. At his best, Miley combined for an outstanding 3.44 ERA/3.57 FIP across 397 1/3 innings as a Diamondback from 2012-13. Since then, he has pitched to a 4.89 ERA/4.32 FIP over 718 1/3 frames in Arizona, Boston, Seattle and Baltimore.
Miley, to his credit, isn’t that far removed from serving as a competent innings eater with the Red Sox in 2015. And while last season was mostly disastrous, he did manage an 8.12 K/9 – the second-highest figure of his career – along with a quality groundball percentage (50.3). Maintaining those numbers and cutting walks closer to his career mark (3.13 BB/9) would help make Miley a useful back-end option for the Twins or another club in 2018. He’ll also need positive regression in the home run department after last year saw him record a 19.4 percent HR-to-fly ball rate (compared to a lifetime 12.5 percent).