Andrew Miller made his 14th appearance of the season in yesterday’s Cardinals victory, and in doing so, he triggered a $12MM vesting option for the 2021 season, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold points out.
Miller, 35, signed a two-year, $25MM deal with St. Louis prior to the 2019 campaign — a contract that came with a vesting option which would become guaranteed with 110 games pitched between 2019-20. Miller appeared in a hefty 73 games for the Cards last season, leaving him with an easily attainable 37-game threshold to guarantee himself that salary in 2020. That number was prorated to just 14 games in this year’s shortened schedule, so even though the veteran southpaw missed some time in August due to some shoulder fatigue, he’s had enough time to secure that salary for next year.
The Cards haven’t yet seen the dominant form displayed by Miller during his 2013-17 peak, when he notched a combined 1.82 ERA and 1.96 FIP with 14.5 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9. The lefty has seen his strikeout rate dip from those levels as his control has worsened, and Miller’s fastball velocity has dropped by more than four miles per hour since 2016.
To be fair, Miller still has a sharp 3.09 ERA through 11 2/3 innings this year, to say nothing of a 12-to-4 K/BB and a 60 percent ground-ball rate that would mark a career-best. However, his overall body of work with the Cards — 4.21 ERA, 4.79 FIP, 82-to-31 K/BB ratio, 11 hit batters through 66 1/3 innings — is likely a good bit shy of what the organization had hoped for upon signing him. If Miller can continue at his 2020 pace even with the diminished velocity, next year’s salary won’t seem outlandish. But given the league-wide revenue losses in 2020, the extra $12MM being tacked on for a reliever’s age-36 season also isn’t ideal.
The Cardinals, who had seen their payroll (pre-prorating) rise above $160MM for a second straight season, already have roughly $111MM on the books for the 2021 campaign with Miller’s deal locked in. That doesn’t include arbitration raises for Jack Flaherty, Jordan Hicks, Harrison Bader or John Gant, nor does it include the pre-arbitration players who’ll round out the club. The front office will also have some work to do to up and down the roster. Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright are free agents. The outfield has been among the least-productive offensive units in baseball. There’s a $1MM buyout on Kolten Wong’s $12.5MM option for the 2021 season.
It’s not clear just what type of financial latitude the front office will be given by ownership, but we’re only a few months removed from Cards chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. brazenly declaring that the baseball industry “isn’t very profitable” even with fans in attendance. At the very least, Miller’s option further muddies what was already shaping up to be a complicated winter for president of baseball ops John Mozeliak, GM Mike Girsch and the rest of the Cards’ front office.
vincent k. mcmahon
I’d rather watch a real sport anyways Mr.Dewitt.
Agreed. Baseball better than football
wild bill tetley
Mr McMahon may be referring to Monday Night Raw.
Although he did say “sport.”
$12 million will buy a whole lot of vests, maybe even bring them back into style.
Chief Two Hands
Darn it all to heck, I’m sick of this vest pipe dream. They are out of style and that is never going to change! Never! Just accept it!
See. My. Vest. See my vest. Made of real gorilla chest.
I always preferred that to my Irish Setter sweater.
See my loafers, former gophers
Cardinals roster is never as good as their record. Sign of a winning organization. Compare that to angels or tigers when they had like 7 all stars.
The Cards have a great player development staff. For a long time now, all the way back to when Augie Busch owned the team, we’ve gotten loads of production from unlikely sources that seem to surprise everyone that they’ve made the impact that they did…
They used Miller 73 times last year, but for only 54.2 IP. They obviously knew what they were doing at the time, but that made the vesting likely unless he had a serious injury.
These front office guys are not idiots. Games played vesting options are EASILY avoided if you don’t want the option to vest. They are obviously perfectly happy getting Miller for next season.
I don’t care what they do with Miller either way, but they MUST extend Yadi and Waino. They are the heart of the team, they are the heart of Cardinal Nation and Yadi at least will have a statue some day, if not a retired number.
I agree but Molina has to take a pay cut. He’s not the player he once was and I understand the nostalgia but you can’t pay a 38 year old catcher 20 million dollars or even 10 million. Waino already understands that
clearly Bard and Matzek will take most of the votes, but Waino certainly deserves an honorable mention for NL comeback player of the year.
How about Wil Myers? He was pretty much cast aside late last season by Andy Green and has raked this year.
Beersy—how about Wil Myers, right? He’s been a hallmark of solidly above average production for many consecutive years here, but never broke through in the way people had expected him to. Super cool to see him mashing the ball with a good team around him.
Chief Two Hands
Yeah but what is Myers coming back from? He has always been all hype. He hasn’t come back from anything, he is simply just (finally) living up to some of the hype. Some.
Chief Two Hands
Prior to this season, he had 2 good seasons in 2016 and 2017 out of 7 MLB seasons total. For the majority of his career he has been mediocre. I don’t think that constitutes a comeback. At least not in the context of consideration for an award.
I’m a Brewers fan but I’m still happy to see Wainwright succeed like this again…one of the good guys in the game
Should Corbin Burnes me mentioned in this conversation?
Not really. He was already pretty good last year. That was when he deserved the votes for CPotY.
Glad Miller is still getting regular playing time and performing pretty well, he was so fun to watch during his prime with the Yankees and Indians. I’ve never seen more lateral movement on pitches in my life
A one percenter like DeWitt poor mouthing, is about as tone deaf as it gets.
and you totally missed the point of what he was saying. Nowhere has there been any talk of cutting the payroll. He was just saying that when you pay to keep your organization from ever having to enter into a rebuild… which includes putting quality dollars into not only you MLB team, but also your MiLB organization as well into scouting and development… it doesn’t leave a ton of money for profit. Most of the money the Cards make gets re invested back into the team at the various levels. DeWitt never intended to get rich off the Cards, otherwise the family wouldn’t have financed Busch 3 and the Ballpark village with their own money. Their family got rich from outside resources and they don’t touch that money to run the organization. Try thinking before typing. I feel bad that you made such an ass out yourself.
You’re defending a billionaire for complaining he won’t make enough money during a pandemic while millions are still unemployed
And you call someone else tone deaf! Holy hell look at yourself
Did any of you actually read the context of the story? If so, I’m sorry your reading comprehension skills are that bad. Nowhere in the article was DeWitt complaining about making money. The family has never expected to make much if any money off the team at all. Let that sink in for a minute, They’ve never expected the team to make them more money.
He said the team wasn’t all that profitable. and part of that has absolutely nothing to do with the baseball team. A huge chunk of the team’s expenditures come from some of the earliest bonds coming due now on Busch 3. Do any of you actually get that Busch 3 is one of only a handful of sports stadiums built with absolutely no Government or public money? Every dollar spent on the stadium and Ballpark Village is either DeWitt money or bonds sold to raise more cash that are beginning to come due.
As a fan, I bought one of the smallest bonds they were selling originally and mine was just repaid about 4 months ago.
If you can’t comprehend that the DeWitt family makes their money from the investment firm Mr DeWitt funded with his partner, the family also owns 50+ Arby’s franchises valued at over 50 million dollars and one of the original investors in the US Playing Card company out of Cincinnati. That’s why he’s rich and will stay rich. The Cardinals are not a source of income for the family, nor an investment. Its more of a hobby for a rich family. So once again for the less literate crowd… He was never complaining about making money for himself… He was commenting on the fact that money brought in by the team is basically just moved back into the team. Which also explains why the team is usually successful and hasn’t had to rebuild like most other franchises in the last 10+ years. If idiot fans would listen, they would learn more about the business of baseball. All of these owners are rich because of their main sources of income… I highly doubt any MLB owner makes much money from their franchises because of the cost of operating a successful MLB organization.
so, when you blow a billionaire, do work the shaft, tickle the taint, or do just stick a finger up his ass?
oh wow, a multibillionaire who’s never worked a day in life will be slightly poorer, boo hoo.
Please don’t be an idiot. Google is your friend. Because, if you Google William DeWitt Jr… You will see he has in fact a day in his life, He founded his investment company in the late ’70s. and has started other businesses that are public record. and I’m sure he’s held many positions in the companies owned by his father before starting his own businesses.