The Cleveland Indians have been busy the last 24 hours, first nearing a deal for catcher Jonathan Lucroy of the Milwaukee Brewers and now having officially agreed to a trade to bring dominant left-handed reliever Andrew Miller to Cleveland from the New York Yankees.
The move is something that had been talked about for a while as the Indians have been looking at relief pitchers all summer to bolster a bullpen that’s been the one Achilles heel of the club. However, the cost to acquire Miller seemed prohibitive for a small market club like the Indians who tend to be conservative. But boy did they buck that trend this morning.
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Miller was a 2016 All-Star selection and is having arguably the best season of his career, which is saying something as he’s been one of the top five relievers in baseball for a couple years. In 45 1/3 innings, Miller has posted a 1.39 ERA and 1.8 fWAR. He also has a 1.77 FIP and is striking out over 15 batters per nine innings!
Miller’s addition gives the Tribe their first legit lefty out of the pen as they’ve struggled to fill that void with guys like Ross Detwiler and T.J. House. Miller could also close as he does have nine this year and had 36 last season though the Tribe has not announced if he will take Cody Allen‘s spot or not. Allen did mention recently that he is fine with relinquishing the closer’s role if it helps the team.
Miller did not come cheap though as it cost the Indians four very good prospects in OF Clint Frazier, LHP Justus Sheffield, RHP Ben Heller, and RHP J.P. Feyereisen. Both Frazier and Sheffield were named top 100 prospects this month by Baseball America. Frazier is the big get here, ranking as a top 30 prospect in all of baseball and being the Tribe’s top prospect for a year now. The former fifth overall pick was recently promoted to Triple-A Columbus. Prior to that, he was an All-Star at Double-A where he hit .276with 13 home runs and 13 stolen bases in 89 games for the Akron Rubberducks. Frazier has huge power potential and potential to be a 25-30 home run bat from the right side.
Sheffield was the Tribe’s seventh-best prospect heading into the season and has continued to pitch well, this year with Advanced-A Lynchburg. Drafted in 2014 using the pick acquired after Ubaldo Jimenez left in free agency, the short lefty has had a solid career to this point. He has the potential to be a good major league starter though he’s still a couple years off. In 19 starters, Sheffield posted a 7-5 record with a 3.59 ERA.
Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen are a pair of right-handed relievers who have jumped onto the radar this year. Neither made our top 30 prospect list at the start of the season but Heller, in particular, was going to be on the updated list this summer and Feyereisen was right there for consideration as well. Heller started the season in Double-A Akron and posted a minuscule 0.55 ERA in 16 1/3 innings before being promoted to Triple-A Columbus. He wasn’t quite as dominant there but still posted a 2.59 ERA and struck out nearly a batter an inning.
Feyereisen made the Double-A All-Star team this year and has appeared in 33 games for the Rubberducks. In his 40 1/3 innings of work, he’s posted a 2.23 ERA and struck out 12.5 batters per nine innings. Both he and Heller were some late round draft gems by the Indians as Feyereisen was a 16th round pick in 2014 while Heller was a 22nd round pick in 2013.
The Indians paid a high, high price for Miller but the move very likely makes the Indians the favorites in the American League now (if they weren’t already). They shored up the back of the bullpen to compliment the already dominant starting pitching. Losing Frazier is going to sting for a long while but the price of doing business in this league. The good news is Miller is not a rental and is signed through 2018, so the Tribe will get to enjoy his arm for 2.5 seasons instead of just a half year.
So what do you think of the trade? Good for the Tribe or did they give up too much? Sound off in the comments below.