The Phillies are “strongly” in on free-agent lefty Andrew Miller, tweets Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. Salisbury had previously reported the team to be in pursuit of both Miller and Zach Britton. Meanwhile, Fancred’s Jon Heyman suggests that Miller “is going to insist on a no-trade clause” after surprisingly being dealt a year and a half into his four-year pact with the Yankees. Heyman further reports that the White Sox were talking to Miller but now “seem to have pulled back.”
Miller, 34 in May, had a down season in 2018 as he missed brief stints due to hamstring and shoulder issues while also spending a more substantial period on the 60-day disabled list owing to a right knee injury. The result was a 4.24 ERA with somewhat diminished K/BB numbers in just 34 innings of work.
Of course, in the four preceding seasons, Miller was very arguably the game’s best reliever. Once a prized starting pitching prospect, he instead broke out following a move to the bullpen after several years of struggling in the rotation. From 2014-17, Miller pitched to a ridiculous 1.72 ERA with averages of 14.5 strikeouts and 2.3 walks per nine innings pitched. With the exception of the 2017 season, he’s posted at least average ground-ball tendencies on an annual basis, and dating back to the 2013 season, the only pitchers in all of baseball with a better swinging-strike rate than Miller’s 15.7 percent are Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel and Kenley Jansen.
Given his age and the fact that he missed time due to three separate injuries last season, there’s some undeniable risk when it comes to Miller. But, if the Phillies are convinced of Miller’s health, they likely view him as a potentially wipeout reliever whose 2018 struggles may have dropped his earning power a bit. He’d give the Phils a formidable one-two punch at the back of the ’pen, alongside dominant rookie Seranthony Dominguez. Veteran setup options Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek, too, will be back in 2019, with other names such as Jose Alvarez, Juan Nicasio, Hector Neris and Adam Morgan among the options to round out Gabe Kapler’s relief corps.
Should the ChiSox rekindle their pursuit, Miller would join right-handers Alex Colome and Nate Jones as the most established options at the back of what is currently an inexperienced group of relievers.