Versatile relief pitcher Andrew Miller and the St. Louis Cardinals have agreed to a two-year, $25 million deal, sources tell Yahoo Sports, bringing together a team that has long sought a left-handed presence in the back end of their bullpen with a potentially dominant left-hander coming off an injury-riddled season.
The 33-year-old Miller was arguably the best reliever in baseball over the previous two seasons, helping the Cleveland Indians reach the World Series in 2016 and providing the backbone of their 2017 bullpen. His ability to pitch in multiple roles – whether as a middle-innings fireman or a late-inning closer – served as a template for other teams’ willingness to rely more and more upon their bullpens as the utility of starting pitchers across the game lessened.
Few, of course, bring anywhere near the talent of Miller, whose mid-90s fastball and wipeout slider were perhaps the most potent two-pitch combination in baseball. Between 2016 and 2017, Miller struck out 218 batters and walked just 30 in 137 innings. His 1.45 ERA was the second lowest in the game for pitchers during that span with at least 100 innings thrown.
Chosen with the sixth overall pick in the 2006 draft, Miller spent a year and a half in the Detroit Tigers organization before being traded to the Florida Marlins in the Miguel Cabrera mega-deal. He struggled as a starter, control problems exacerbating a decline in his raw stuff. A full-time shift to the bullpen with the Boston Red Sox in 2012 changed the trajectory of Miller’s career, setting him on the course to be one of the most dominant relievers of his generation.
He signed a four-year, $36 million deal with the New York Yankees following the 2014 season, turning down at least $4 million more from the Houston Astros because he wanted to play for an annual contender. As the Astros ascended to the top of the baseball world, winning a World Series in 2017, Miller never looked back, racking up otherworldly numbers and fetching the Yankees a king’s ransom in a 2016 deal near the trade deadline: top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield and outfielder Clint Frazier were among the four players New York acquired.
Cleveland never regretted giving up the haul. Miller won the ALCS MVP award that season and pushed the pitching-starved Indians to the seventh game of the World Series. His 2017 was nearly as good.
Last year brought on a different set of circumstances entirely. Knee and hamstring injuries kept Miller on the disabled list for all of June and July, and shoulder troubles vexed him in September. While he returned in time for the playoffs, Miller’s arsenal was diminished, and he limped into the offseason not looking like his typically dominant self, finishing the year with a 4.24 ERA and 16 walks against 45 strikeouts in 34 innings.
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