Saturday, December 6, 2014

Busy Yankees Sign Andrew Miller for Bullpen

The Yankees have sent a missive to closer David Robertson: lower your price, or we are moving on.

New York made a move it had to make in order to bolster its bullpen, signing crafty left hander Andrew Miller on Friday afternoon to a step four-year $36 million contract; this for someone who won't even close for them.

The Yankees made the move after initially offering Miller a reported $32 million, and increased it to $36 million after an unnamed team offered him $40 million. Miller decided to take less and join the Yankees.

While his career numbers do not jump of the page (a career 4.91 ERA) it is the work that 6-7 lefty has put together the past two years that is so impressive. Last season he was 5-5 with a 2.02 ERA in combined duty with the Red Sox and orioles. In fact, in 23 games with Baltimore, he helped push that team to a divisional title pitching to a 1.34 ERA and a 0.600 WHIP. He was really good in a division where offense comes first.

Go deeper into the numbers and the Yankees have a guy who was brilliant against the East. While Boston hit him hard, batting .349 against him, Miller owned the Orioles. Baltimore hit only .085 against him as a team. The Blue Jays hit .216 against him and the Rays hit only .180. The Yankees were one a few teams to hit well against Miller batting .314 against him, but it is his work against the Yankees competition that is so attractive to the Yankees.

Plus New York is cashing in on the new trend of MLB, pay big for middle relief. The Kansas City Royals had one the deepest and best bullpens in baseball this year, in part the reason why they ran all the way to the World Series this past year. The Yankees ideally hope that with Miller in the fold with Dellin Betances, their bullpen has the potential to be very good. 

This is where Robertson comes in. Robertson was looking for what he called "Paplebon money," referencing the closer's $50 million contract he signed with Philadelphia a few years back. However, the Yankees are not willing to pay Robertson that much. As good as he was last season as closer, he's only done it for one year, and hasn't earned the cache to be paid as one of the game's best.

It is interesting that the Yankees give Miller so much money for such a long period of time, it is almost like they gave the Robertson money to Miller, and this guy isn't even going to close. That is a major gamble by the New York. For as good as Miller has been lately, everyone knows middle relief is a catch-22; some years they are great, others not so great. Miller will have to be lights out just to justify such an extensive contract.

If Robertson lowers his price and matches what the Yankees are willing to pay for him -- then Miller becomes the steal of the off-season. If not, this could leave a lot of fans scratching their head as to where this Yankees bullpen is heading in 2015. 

It will be a fascinating week at the Winter Meetings in San Diego for sure.

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