Prior to the Winter Meetings a report from Jerry Crasnick indicated the Cubs were “actively exploring a trade for one of the top closers.” Crasnick did not provide any names but soon after reports surfaced the Cubs and Rays were discussing various trades. Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger were two of the pitchers reportedly in the talks with Tampa and the Cubs are believed to still have some level in the late inning relievers.
A little over two weeks ago, Ken Rosenthal reported the Cubs “current focus is on trades for relievers” but not the high-end types such as the Yankees’ Andrew Miller, but middle-inning and setup options who would provide depth.” Rosenthal did not mention any specific players other than Miller, who he said the Cubs were not interested in acquiring.
Bruce Levine reported Tuesday, Andrew Miller could be the final piece for the Cubs’ bullpen eventually. Brian Cashman said Monday after acquiring Aroldis Chapman from the Reds that he planned on opening the season with Miller, Chapman and Dellin Betances in the back of his bullpen. Cashman is trying to lock down the last three innings and make up for not being able to add to his rotation this off-season.
Levine pointed out that Miller was available, in the right deal, before the Yankees traded for Chapman. The Cubs are “still hell bent on deepening the relief corps” for next season according to Levine and if the front office cannot add a reliever this winter, the Cubs would be “open to adding a big bullpen arm during the season.”
The Cubs would not be able to send a starting pitcher to the Yankees for Miller, according to Levine, but they might be able to matchup with the Yankees if a big bat, such as Jorge Soler or Javier Baez, was sent to the Bronx for the lefty reliever.
Andrew Miller is coming off an excellent season, the first of a four-year contract he signed last winter. Miller missed nearly a month with a left flexor forearm strain (June 10-July 8) but still earned the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award.
The 30-year old Miller was 3-2 in 60 games with 36 saves, a 2.04 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and 2.16 FIP. Miller allowed 16 runs, 14 earned, on 33 hits with 20 walks and 100 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings.
There are three years remaining on the four-year, $36 million contract he signed last December. Miller is owed $9 million per season, a guaranteed $27 million over the next three years.
Theo Epstein has always liked Andrew Miller and traded for the southpaw when he was calling the shots in Boston. Epstein acquired Miller from the Marlins on Nov. 12, 2010 for Dustin Richardson. Epstein re-signed Miller a month later after non-tendering him in early December.
The Cubs were heavily linked to Miller last off-season before he signed with the Yankees. Reports suggested Miller’s price and length of contract exceeded what the Cubs were willing to commit to him at the time.
It is unknown the level of interest the Cubs may have in Andrew Miller. Based on Theo Epstein’s history with the southpaw there have likely been several conversations about him with Brian Cashman.
Stay Tuned …