The Chicago Cubs are heading into the offseason with no impact left-handed relievers on the roster, leaving a glaring hole at the back of the staff.
In a free agent class that is low-key stacked with a lot of star power, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will definitely steal the spotlight – especially related to the Chicago Cubs. Other guys like Craig Kimbrel, Josh Donaldson and Patrick Corbin will also be high on teams’ wish lists.
However, there is one name out there not receiving a ton of buzz due to a 2018 season plagued by injuries. Cubs fans undoubtedly remember him from the 2016 World Series – Andrew Miller. This guy was very recently a reliever with one of the highest upsides out of any pitcher in baseball and remains someone the Cubs should heavily consider signing this offseason.
Miller, at 33 years old, coming off his worst season since 2011, is set to hit the free agent market at a fairly inopportune time given those circumstances. He was plagued by knee and shoulder issues in 2018, only pitched in 37 games and finished with a 4.24 ERA. Because of this, there may not be a ton of attraction to Miller, as a lot of risks are associated with his name.
This is a key reason the Cubs should go after Miller. In 13 seasons in the big leagues, Miller has a 3.98 ERA and 3.49 FIP. In his last three seasons (spent with Cleveland and the Yankees), Miller went 10-7 with a 2.22 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 13.3 K/9. The upside is there, and with the season he’s coming off of, the Cubs could sign him to a fairly inexpensive deal. I would love to see Chicago sign him to a one-year deal, and he’ll have the opportunity to prove that despite a down year in 2018, he still has the makings of one of baseball’s best relievers.
In this age of baseball, we’re seeing bullpens become more and more of a key component to the success of teams. From the Rays introducing “the opener” this past season to the Yankees adding bullpen arms to lock down opponents from the seventh inning on (Zach Britton, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman), the value of relief pitchers has gone up in a big way.
If the Cubs can’t sign a top-tier closer this offseason, adding Andrew Miller would be a big-time addition. If Theo gives him a shot, he has a great chance to end up the closer in Chicago, and potentially be one of the best free agent signings in the 2018-2019 offseason.