The latest Cubs rumors connect the team to an elite arm. Signing left-hander Andrew Miller would go down as a high-risk, high-reward move.
Since 2013, Andrew Miller has been the most dominant reliever in baseball, providing his teams with years of high volume appearances and microscopic ERAs (2.02 in ’14, 2.04 in ’15, 1.45 in ’16 and 1.44 in ’17). If the latest Cubs rumors are to be believed, the team is talking with the southpaw.
He’s almost like the Godfather of the modern day usage of bullpens, trailblazing and revolutionizing how relievers are perceived and used in today’s “bullpen era” just as Hall of Famer Goose Gossage did decades before.
In recent years, there hasn’t been anybody in professional baseball more effective in that role than Andrew Miller.
Then last year happened…
Andrew Miller wasn’t the Andrew Miller that we’ve seen making fools of opposing hitters like the last five years. Last season, the lefty finally seemed like he wasn’t untouchable on the mound. His 2018 season was a down year for the lefty as he pitched in just 34 innings, seeing his once gaudy annually low ERA balloon to 4.24. Not bad by any means, but not the numbers we’ve become accustomed to.
This is where we begin to think about the high-risk, high-reward of potentially signing Miller.
On one hand, the Cubs are in need of revamping their bullpen and desperately require durability from their mid-to-late inning arms. With the recent news that closer Brandon Morrow will likely miss the start of the 2019 season after undergoing surgery to clean up some cartilage in his elbow, this sentiment couldn’t be more warranted.
Miller’s uncharacteristic last season could be a sign that the 33-year old’s age is catching up to him as, like Morrow, he has dealt with a plethora of injuries throughout his 13-year career.
That would be the risk of signing Miller, as he could just be another Theo signing (and financial burden) that doesn’t pan out as planned due to either injuries or underwhelming performances.
However, on the other hand, this down ’18 season could also benefit the Cubs if they choose to further pursue Miller.
In the midst of an offseason of rampant financial restriction rumors, Miller’s last season performance could lower his stock, making it easier for the Cubs to ink Miller to a deal.
Is it time to roll the dice?
While the team passed on re-signing Jesse Chavez to an $8M/2-year deal, taking a gamble on Miller, who is projected to sign around a $9M salary over two to three years, could prove worth it. Despite passing on a smaller contract on the effective late addition in Chavez, the Cubs may be willing to invest more money into signing someone like Miller, who has a dominant, proven track record.
Of course, this all depends if the Cubs are willing to actually open their wallets this season, something that the Cubs are reportedly unwilling to do, due to trying to avoid the luxury tax threshold.
If this rumor eventually becomes a reality and the Cubs are actually willing to spend this off-season and perhaps sign Miller to an affordable deal, the team would hope Miller brushes off last season and returns to his form of year’s past.
A discounted cost Andrew Miller returning to the 2017 version of himself would be the reward.
With the Cubs mum about their offseason financial dealings, Miller will be an interesting player for Cubs fans to keep an eye on as this year’s Winter Meetings continue.
This isn’t the first time that the Cubs have been linked to Miller. In 2016, the team entered talks with the New York Yankees about acquiring the lefty in order to make a deep postseason run, before ultimately trading for flamethrowing Aroldis Chapman instead, en route to a World Series championship against the Cleveland Indians, the team that did trade for Miller.