A lot of attention early in the offseason has been placed on whether the Cubs will seriously pursue Bryce Harper in free agency, but the addition of an offensive threat isn’t the only need the front office has to address.
The bullpen, as it seems every year, is a concern at this point in the offseason. We’ve been over this several times, but besides Pedro Strop, Steve Cishek and right now Mike Montgomery are there any other relievers you trust 100 percent from the Cubs?
Brandon Morrow was awesome when healthy in 2018, but his durability is definitely a concern in 2019. Carl Edwards Jr. appeared to be on a track for a good 2018, and then he missed some time, came back only to lose control and confidence on the mound. His season ended by being left off the NL Wild Card roster for the Cubs because of a forearm issue.
So, the Cubs need a reliever or two and they have apparently shown some interest in 33-year-old left-hander Andrew Miller.
It’s not the first time the Cubs have had interest in Miller, who’s been linked to them since 2016, when they eventually traded for Aroldis Chapman instead. Miller was dealt to Cleveland, was great, but is coming off a subpar season that included a couple injuries for the lefty.
Maybe the Cubs are thinking they can get him at a lower price than first expected.
Cubs recently talked with Andrew Miller peeps. Risky and still could be costly, but I’d like that fit.
— TomLoxas (@TomLoxas) December 4, 2018
As you’ll probably remember from the Cubs pursuit of him in 2016, Miller saved his career as a pretty much awful starting pitcher to becoming one of the best relievers in baseball. And it wasn’t just because Miller could shut down a lineup, but because he could come in at any time during a game and shut you out for multiple innings.
From 2014-17, Miller had an ERA of 2.02, 2.04, 1.45 and 1.44 coming out of the bullpen for the Red Sox, Orioles, Yankees and Indians.
In 2018, Miller only pitched in 37 games for Cleveland, limited by injury and had his worst season in quite some time, posting a 4.24 ERA and 1.38 WHIP.
Projections have Miller getting anywhere between $9-13 million a season, with deals ranging from 1-3 years. Yeah there’s talk about the Cubs maybe not spending money, but if they want any chance at being championship contenders in 2019 and beyond they have to address the holes in the bullpen.
Miller could be the answer if 2018 really was a fluke and if he can regain his form from previous years then it might even end up being a steal in free agency.
— Cubs Insider (@realcubsinsider) December 4, 2018
If Miller gets back to his 2016 form, paying him $9 million is a no-brainer. Remember the thing about Chavez and his 1.15 BB/9 being a godsend for the Cubs this past season? Miller averaged 1.09 BB/9 for a full season two years ago, and put up 14.89 K/9 while doing it. That’s 13.67 strikeouts for every walk. Your mouth watering yet?
At the same time, his career average of 3.44 BB/9 as a reliever — the exact same mark he’s posted over the last two seasons — is relatively pedestrian. Of course, a 13.44 K/9 average is enough to make up for a free pass here and there.
Obviously there’s risk involved. The Cubs already have Morrow, who’s had durability issues, and Miller’s had his injury problems too.
What do you think? Andrew Miller to the Cubs, good move, or look elsewhere to help the bullpen?