Veteran reliever Andrew Miller is retiring after 16 Major League seasons, Derrick Goold of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. In a text to Goold, Miller looked back on his career and gave to those who helped him along the way:
“The list of people who took me aside, put their arm around me, made me laugh when I needed to, or taught me something is endless. It’s safe to say I would have been faced with the next chapter much earlier on if it weren’t for them. As someone who thought their career was practically over in 2010, to be able to experience everything I did along the way is incredible. You shouldn’t ever hear complaints from me. It was a heck of a run.”
After being selected as the sixth overall pick of the 2006 draft, Miller was initially seen as a cornerstone piece of the Tigers’ future before he became part of one of the biggest trades in Detroit’s franchise history. Miller was one of six players dealt from the Tigers to the Marlins in exchange for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis in December 2007, though after three injury-plagued seasons in South Beach, the Marlins also parted ways with the left-hander.
Miller was dealt to the Red Sox in the 2010-11 offseason, and after more struggles in 2011, Miller became a full-time reliever in 2012 and essentially never looked back. The southpaw became one of baseball’s top relief pitchers, working in a variety of different roles depending on his team’s needs. Whether as a closer, set-up man, multi-inning workhorse, or lefty specialist, Miller became a valuable bullpen weapon in any capacity.
As flexible bullpens have become more and more prominent in recent years, it is also very easy to point to Miller as a trailblazer. As Cardinals teammate Adam Wainwright simply put it, Miller “changed the game and he kind of took that relief role back to when it first started, guys who could do two, three innings – and he was the guy who did it in the postseason.”
From 2013-17, Miller was next to unhittable, posting a 1.82 ERA, 41.1% strikeout rate, and 7.4% walk rate over 291 2/3 innings with the Red Sox, Orioles, Yankees, and Indians. That tremendous stretch saw Miller named to two AL All-Star teams, and receive top-10 Cy Young placements in both the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Miller received a World Series ring for his contributions to Boston’s 2013 championship team, even if injuries kept him participating in the postseason. However, as Wainwright noted, Miller was at his best in baseball’s biggest spotlight. Miller retires with a tiny 0.93 ERA over 38 2/3 innings in the playoffs, even winning 2016 ALCS MVP honors with Cleveland in 2016. That particular season saw Miller help carry an injury-riddled Cleveland pitching staff to within an inch of a World Series, falling to the Cubs in extra innings in Game Seven.
“He kind of revolutionized all of it – your best pitcher doesn’t have to be your starter or your closer,” Cardinals pitching coach Mike Maddux said. “And he was the best pitcher on multiple staffs. What he did in the postseason to help his team was groundbreaking. I don’t think anybody really duplicated what he’s done – as far as throwing multiple innings in the hairy innings, whenever they are.”
Miller’s success was reflected in his free agent value, as he landed a four-year, $36MM deal from the Yankees in the 2014-15 offseason. Hitting the open market again following the 2018 campaign, Miller signed a two-year, $25MM contract with the Cardinals that became a three-year, $37MM pact when he pitched enough innings in 2020 to trigger a vesting option.
Injuries began to hamper Miller later in his career, and both his velocity and his overall performance took a step back over his three years in St. Louis. Miller had only a 4.34 ERA over 103 2/3 regular-season innings in a Cards uniform, but again remained effective come October. Over seven postseason games and 5 2/3 innings with the Cardinals, Miller didn’t allow a single run.
If anything, Miller drew even more respect from teammates and peers off the field, due to his work with the MLB Players Association. A longtime team union rep and a member of the MLBPA executive board, Miller was one of the most prominent and outspoken voices representing the players’ causes both during his career, and particularly this offseason during the lockout. While Miller will never himself play under the terms of the 2022-26 Collective Bargaining Agreement, it will stand as something of a legacy for his contributions to players both present and future.
“I have an appreciation for what he did for the entire game of baseball,” Wainwright said of Miller’s MLBPA work. “As many hours as that guy put in for the union over these past few years is kind of staggering. He may retire and that means this whole offseason he still spent 16 hours on the phone a day, for us, for who’s next – that means a lot.”
The 36-year-old Miller will retire with a career 4.03 ERA, 27.1% strikeout rate, 979 strikeouts, 10.6% walk rate, 63 saves, and 141 holds over his 829 innings with seven different Major League teams. We at MLB Trade Rumors congratulate Miller on a great career, and we wish him all the best in retirement.
For the last word on Miller’s career, the lefty himself sums things up as part of his text message….
“I feel very fortunate that my career worked out the way that it did. Of course there were tough stretches, injuries, and times of doubt. I also won’t deny that I can find myself in moments of wondering what if this or that had happened differently, could it have somehow been better? I’m usually pretty quick to be able to step back though and see how lucky I have been. The hard times were necessary for me to grow and to be able to appreciate the highs along the way. Ultimately, I was able to play for many great franchises, wear historic uniforms, and play in some amazing ballparks. I made some of the best friends I will ever have in life through the game. I was able to work with the union and see the good it can do for players while learning so much about the game.”