Wade Miley stood helplessly by as his Astros’ tenure crumbled behind a disastrous September. A rocky final month boiled over into his lone ALDS appearance, forcing Miley off the roster for the ALCS and World Series. The team supposed Miley was relying too much on his cutter and steering his changeup to the point of altering the arm action that makes the pitch effective. After the year was out, however, a former teammate reached out to alert Miley that glove position was tipping his pitches, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. That’s cold comfort for Astros’ fans, but those in Cincinnati can officially raise their expectations for the two-year, $15MM free agent signing. If the Miley that shows up to Great American Ballpark more closely resembles the guy who put up a 3.06 ERA through 156 innings prior to September (and if the offense rebounds), the Reds might finally live up to the dependable, high-quality performance the chamber of commerce had in mind when adopting the the nickname of the Blue Chip City.
- As much credit as Theo Epstein deserves for finally turning the Cubs into a winner, the blame falls at his feet as well for the current state of affairs. Something has clearly gone awry when the Cubs are so short of cash that they can’t even outbid the Brewers for low-cost free agents like lefty Alex Claudio, who signed for $1.75MM. The problem isn’t that the Cubs are cheap (they had the third-highest payroll last season), but Epstein hasn’t made the best use of their funds, per The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma. With one of the highest budgets in baseball, Epstein ought to have enough resources to maintain a winner in Chicago – instead he’s bargain hunting for the second consecutive offseason.
- The Twins finally made good on a decade-long courtship of reliever Tyler Clippard when they signed him to a one-year, $2.75MM deal, per The Athletic’s Aaron Gleeman. He’s long been successful in this league, thanks largely to a north-south approach that’s come into fashion in recent seasons: a high-spin rising fastball set up by a splitter and changeup that move the opposite direction. The arsenal induces soft, airborne contact, especially against lefties. Besides being a reverse splits guy, he is also the rare pitcher who can be relied upon to consistently produce below-average batting average on balls in play. His career .239 BABIP is second-lowest all-time, Gleeman notes, and he’s only once let that number rise above .300, the average mark league-wide.