Andrew Miller’s four-year, $36MM deal with the Yankees from the 2014-15 offseason has become one of the most influential contracts in recent baseball history, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman opines. Miller’s contract set a new standard for non-closer relievers, and its value has only grown in import thanks to the Indians’ usage of Miller as a multi-inning fireman. As teams have put a focus on deep and flexible bullpens, relievers have been increasingly well-compensated in free agency; even during this unusually slow offseason, several relief arms have scored hefty multi-year commitments. The fact that many notable relievers out-earned several notable sluggers and starting pitchers this winter is of no small concern to Miller, who is also a Players Association Representative. “We have to understand the economics of how this works. If one position or one skill is valued more highly, you probably will have another skill valued not as highly,” Miller noted.
Some more from around the baseball world as we head into a new week…
- Seibu Lions left-hander Yusei Kikuchi has continued to express interest in a jump to Major League Baseball, with some in the industry feeling that the 26-year-old could land close to a $100MM deal from a North American team, The Athletic’s Dennis Lin writes (subscription required). Kikuchi has a 2.76 ERA, 8.0 K/9 and a 2.30 K/BB rate over 871 2/3 innings for Seibu (plus a brief stint in the Australian Baseball League in his rookie year). Since Kikuchi is older than 25, he is exempt from the international bonus pool system, and he should command a hefty contract from teams bidding for his services should Seibu decide to post him — Kikuchi isn’t eligible for complete free agency until 2020.
- Andrew Cashner wouldn’t have signed his two-year, $16MM deal with the Orioles unless he was allowed to keep his beard, Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun reports. The O’s usually have a ban on facial hair (besides “a well-manicured goatee”) but an exemption was made for Cashner, provided that he keeps his beard neatly trimmed. “I just think it’s a part of who I am, and it’s a part of my personality — it’s just me. I think this length is kind of what it’s supposed to be, I guess,” Cashner said, who noted that he disliked having to shave his beard when he played for the Marlins, another club with a facial hair ban.
- The Cubs are probably done their major offseason shopping, The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney writes (subscription required), as the team is likely to save its remaining money for potential in-season additions. By Mooney’s calculations, Chicago has roughly $13MM left for the trade deadline without going over the $197MM luxury tax threshold.