The Cleveland Indians may look to keep Andrew Miller in 2019, but it would not make sense to offer the reliever a qualifying offer.
The Cleveland Indians only paid Andrew Miller $9 million in 2018. That may seem like a lot considering his injuries throughout the year, but it was significantly cheaper than what he would have earned on the open market in the offseason.
Miller had his breakout performance in the 2016 postseason at a time when the Indians had him under contract through 2018 for a combined $18 spread out over the remaining two years.
The reliever is eligible to receive a qualifying offer this offseason. The problem is the price.
The MLB qualifying offer for 2019 is reportedly set at $17.9 million. That means the Indians can offer Miller a one-year deal worth that amount and if he declines and signs elsewhere, the team would receive a draft pick. The problem is that Miller would likely not turn down that money.
He showed up in a recent article on MLB.com looking at five players who would likely agree to a qualifying offer. That amount would give him his combined 2017-2018 salary in one year and is more than he would earn on the market for a one-year deal.
The Indians are not in a position to offer any player a one-year deal worth that much. Especially not a relief pitcher who hasn’t been able to stay fully healthy the past two seasons. 2016 was amazing but that shouldn’t determine one’s contract in 2019.
The deadline to extend a qualifying offer is Friday at 5 p.m. Offering this kind of money to Miller would mean trying to re-sign Cody Allen would be out of the question. That doesn’t seem like a logical strategy and it is a better idea to let Miller test the free agent waters.
If a team wants to pay him big money, then good for him. But that team can’t be the Indians. The addition of Brad Hand seemed to be in preparation for this exact scenario.
Miller can still return if his value remains low enough, but his reputation will likely have a big market team giving him another shot at a big contract.