Cardinals Announce Andrew Miller Signing

photo: Andrew Miller (David Richard/USA TODAY Sports)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today (Friday, December 21) that they have agreed to terms with free-agent left-handed relief pitcher Andrew Miller on a two-year (2019-2020) deal with a vesting option for 2021.  Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Andrew Miller (Orlando Hernandez/USA TODAY Sports)

“One of our stated goals this off-season was to improve our bullpen,” said Cardinals’ President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak.  “Andrew Miller is one of the premier relievers in the Major League, and his addition certainly strengthens our bullpen.”

A veteran of 13 seasons in the majors, Miller, 33, has stood among the games’ top relievers over the past three seasons, enjoying All-Star campaigns in both 2016 and 2017.  The 6-7, 205-pound Gainesville, Fla. native was a key member of the Cleveland Indians bullpen in 2016 when they advanced to the World Series, and he was voted the MVP of the American League Championship Series that year, striking out 14 batters in 7.2 innings.

Miller, whose major league career began in 2006 with Detroit, has compiled a 49-48 mark with a 3.98 ERA in 483 games pitched, striking out 853 batters in his 725.1 innings pitched.  Miller has taken part in postseason play each of the past five seasons (2014-18) and has made 22 career appearances in the postseason, going 2-1 with a 1.09 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 33.0 innings of work.

Miller ranks among the Major League’s top-10 in reliever ERA (2.00-4th), opponent average (.170-7th), strikeouts (263-T9th), strikeout/walk ratio (5.72-7th), Holds (63-7th) and WHIP (0.88-4th) over the past three seasons.   He was 2-4 with a 4.24 ERA in 37 games pitched during an injury-shortened season for Cleveland in 2018, but did come back to pitch down the stretch and into the postseason.

Among the majors’ left-handed relievers, Miller is ranked 3rd in strikeouts/9 IP (13.84) and 2nd in strikeout to walk ratio (5.72) since 2016.

The Cardinals have designated right-handed pitcher Ryan Meisinger for assignment to make room for Miller on the team’s 40-man Major League roster.

The Cardinals plan to officially introduce Miller at the team’s Winter Warm-up event in January.

Brian Walton’s take

I understand many are against spending on relief and are concerned about Miller’s 2018, but the Cardinals had to take some risk no matter which direction they took, and Miller offers tremendous upside. He could address the left-handed relief need and even the closer spot potentially.

The deal entirely hinges on his health and return to past dominance. Miller averaged 2.4 fWAR from 2014-2017 and if he can return to that, it would be a huge benefit to the Cardinals. A continuation of his injury-plagued 2018, however, would be a disaster.

Here are the financial terms from Ken Rosenthal. My summary is the total value of the deal – if it reaches three years – to be $34.5 million plus the appearance incentives. Maximum possible, $36 million.

My additional analysis and commentary on Miller from Thursday evening can be read here:

Andrew Miller Signing with St. Louis Expected

The newest addition to the 40-man, Meisinger, gets bumped off. Since he made it through waivers all the way to St. Louis earlier this month, my guess is that he will clear this time, but if not, it will not be a major loss. Full details on Meisinger are here.

Meisinger Flies from Orioles to Cardinals

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at Follow Brian on Twitter.

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