With the New York Yankees reinforcing their bullpen with the addition of Aroldis Chapman, is Andrew Miller expendable?
By this point there is no one within the game of baseball who doesn’t know that the New York Yankees acquired Aroldis Chapman.
With the acquisition, the Yankees have formed a sort of super bullpen, adding Chapman to an already strong back end of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. Before even playing one game with their current setup, the Yankees bullpen is already being called the best of all time.
However, the Yankees may not even get that far.
As has been apparent all offseason, the Yankees are open to trading last year’s closer Andrew Miller for the right price. With Aroldis Chapman now on the Yankees roster, trading Miller may be more, rather than less, likely.
Without Miller, Chapman and Betances would still make up perhaps the strongest 8th-9th duo in all of baseball. The Yankees may have created a super bullpen for the time being, but other glaring weaknesses may sink the Yankees in 2016, regardless of who is sitting down in the bullpen.
To this point in the offseason, the Yankees have been awfully quiet. This serves a purpose, as the Yankees seem unwilling to take on long term commitments given their luxury tax situation. With the big contracts of Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran and CC Sabathia all coming off the books after this season, and Alex Rodriguez the year after that, the Yankees are seemingly biding their time for potential future spending increases. However, do to this unwillingness to spend on big ticket free agents in the present, the Yankees are now stuck with some weaknesses on the roster that still need to be addressed.
At the top of the list of possible weaknesses is the starting rotation.
Despite having one of the best bullpens in the league in 2015, even before the addition of Chapman, the Yankees rotation was a middling bunch. Add to that the injury concerns of a large portion of the staff, and the Yankees have more questions than answers. As it currently stands, some combination of Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, CC Sabathia, Nathan Eovaldi, Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka will fill out the Yankees rotation. Not the most inspiring bunch, especially given the injury history of, and durability questions related to, Pineda, Sabathia, and Tanaka. This staff is good on paper, but it is hard to believe all arms involved will stay healthy through a 162 game season. The Yankees have some depth in the staff, but it is shaky at best at this point.
This brings us back to Andrew Miller.
Now that the Yankees have a bit of a surplus in the back end of the bullpen, due to the fact that they more or less have three closers, the team could decide to trade Miller in order to further fortify the starting rotation, or even add some positional player depth. At this point, all signs point to Brian Cashman and company keeping Miller, although the Yankees would be wise to explore the possibilities of a trade of Miller for young, controllable starting pitching.
There are still plenty of teams who may be in the market for back of the bullpen help, for example the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs, and the market has been busy in that department this offseason, with the trades of Craig Kimbrel, Ken Giles, Francisco Rodriguez, and Aroldis Chapman. With that in mind, the demand should still be there given the closer’s increased importance to contending teams. For that reason, Miller, who is one of the best closers in all of baseball, should garner a high price.
It remains to be seen whether the Yankees actually trade Andrew Miller, but they certainly should weigh their options.
With Chapman in tow, the Yankees could trade Miller and get young pitching in return in order to bolster their rotation for not only this season, but also in the long term future.
The Yankees may have built the best bullpen in baseball, and perhaps in baseball history, but there other weaknesses around the diamond stick out more than ever. Trading from their surplus to address those weaknesses may be the most prudent course of action going forward this offseason.