The New York Yankees have plenty of offseason targets Brian Cashman will look in on, but Andrew Miller is too risky to be included.
All the free agent talk for the New York Yankees revolves around a few select names, particularly Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. With the Yankees, every single report has somehow pertained to the potential of them inking one of these young, talented players.
Now open your eyes. There are plenty of other suitable targets on the free agent market that won’t break the bank. They might not be as shiny and youthful as these two home run hitters, but they’re out there.
One of the targets the Yankees have been linked to is actually a former Bomber. Andrew Miller spent almost two seasons in the Bronx before he was traded to the Cleveland Indians in 2016, with the Yankees getting a haul of prospects in return.
Since that trade, Miller has spent two full seasons in Cleveland, compiling some pretty impressive numbers and quickly becoming a fan-favorite. However, the Yankees remember his tenure in Cleveland by one swing of the bat from their now-spurned backup first baseman.
Besides that mistake, Miller improved on his already impressive resume for this offseason.
But before the Yankees start slapping a massive contract in front of Miller and giving away millions of dollars, they need to take a step back and explore the acquisition from a fresh perspective.
It’s clear that Miller knows how to handle the high pressure that comes with wearing the pinstripes and he’s proven that he’s not afraid of the AL East and coming in during big-game situations. The Yankees also could use another lefty in the ‘pen, one who preferably has experience already in the role.
However, the major hurdle has to be Miller’s injury history over the past few years. While he has been medically cleared from his latest injury, just knowing that he’s struggled the past few seasons to stay healthy should cause some hesitation.
In 2017, Miller spent two separate times on the disabled list, both for aggravation in his right knee, which is also his planting leg. The right knee issues also resurfaced throughout the 2018 season, along with a slew of other unfortunate injuries to his hamstring and his left shoulder.
Not only that but at 33-years-old, inking him for multiple years with his recent injury history would be a huge risk for the Bombers to take.
Clearly, many fans remember him during his tenure with the Yankees, serving as a set-up man for closer Aroldis Chapman and blowing away hitters with his deceptive fastball and devastating slider. While he still has those pitches, the Yankees cannot just blindly assume that Miller will return to the form he showed in the Bronx.
And how good was he when he wore the pinstripes? In Miller’s two years, he went 7-3 with a 1.77 ERA. In 107 innings of work for the Yankees, he struck out 177 batters. I think it’s safe to say that Miller made a huge impression on the fans from the Bronx.
Since he left the Yankees, he’s been fairly consistent up until 2018. In his 37 games pitched last season, Miller went 2-4 with a 4.24 ERA, his highest ERA since 2011. Not only that but he pitched 18.2 more innings with the Indians and only recorded nine more strikeouts.
While the injuries and shortened season last year are a concern, we also have to pay attention to his velocity and pitch usage. According to Brooksbaseball.net, Miller’s 2015 season with the Yankees was when he primarily used the slider (54.84 percent) and followed that up closely with the four-seam fastball (45.16 percent). His slider’s average velocity during that season was 84.46 MPH and his fastball clocked in at 95.1 MPH.
Even in his successful 2017 campaign, he used the slider first (56.97 percent), followed by the fastball (42.86 percent) and a few changeups (0.18 percent). The velocities were right on par with his time in the Bronx as well.
Now how about his 2018 season? While it was plagued with injuries, his velocity still dipped enough to make a difference. Miller’s fastball was clocked at 93.83 MPH and his slider dipped down to 83.45.
While this doesn’t seem like a huge deal, it’s certainly something to pay attention to. With the left shoulder aggravating him and his age climbing up there, it would be a problem that could escalate in the 2019 season.
Listen, Andrew Miller was a great addition to the 2015 and 2016 New York Yankees’ teams. He was an excellent contributor and helped propel that team into the playoffs.
But 2019 Andrew Miller and 2015 Andrew Miller are two completely different people. And that’s something the Yankees need to consider if they try to bring Miller aboard.