By Andrew Marchand
How about Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances and David Robertson in the Yankees’ bullpen?
This Yankees offseason has no $189 million goal, nor a half-billion-dollar spending spree, but owner Hal Steinbrenner and the team will likely make a few moves. As always, we like to be helpful here at ESPN New York, so once again, we will aid the Yankees’ decision-makers with a little game we like to call “Spend Hal’s Money.”
Today’s Candidate: Andrew Miller
Age: 30 on May 29
Weight: 210 pounds
2014 numbers: $1.9 million salary, 5-5, 2.02 ERA, 103 strikeouts, 17 walks in 62⅓ innings
Pros: The Yankees offered David Robertson the most money ever to a reliever for one season, the $15.3 million qualifier. Miller, a lefty, had more strikeouts, fewer walks and a lower ERA in two fewer innings than Robertson in 2014. Robertson was a closer, while Miller finished 15 games and had just one save.
But Miller will cost a lot less than Robertson and doesn’t have any compensation attached to him. If Robertson doesn’t take the qualifier, the Yankees will try to retain him, but they might look to Miller as an alternative to team with Dellin Betances, putting two giants at the end of games.
While Miller is a lefty, he is not merely a specialist. In 2014, lefties hit .163 against him, while righties batted .145.
Cons: If Robertson were to leave, the Yankees could ask Miller to share the closer role with Betances. On paper, it looks to be a dynamic combination, but between the two of them, they have a total of two saves (one each). Miller, who, like Betances, was a top starting prospect at one point, would have to show he can handle a more pressurized role. That is an unknown.
Miller is going to be able to demand a big raise, so the price tag for him could soar. Unlike if Robertson hits the market, there is no forfeiture of a first-round pick attached to signing Miller, making him even more attractive to clubs.
As is the case with nearly all relievers, his performance can fluctuate. That could be a concern with Miller, who could very well receive a three-year deal, maybe even four.
The verdict: The Yankees should be in on Miller. The Yankees are going to need a lot to go right in 2015 to be really good, but if they were to retain Robertson and keep Miller, they could have an unbelievable bullpen. With Betances and Miller leading into Robertson, the Yankees could effectively shorten many games to six innings. This would help their starting staff because they would not need as much from the weaker links. If Robertson were to leave as a free agent, the Yankees could go with Betances and Miller at the back end of games.
It probably will take $7-8 million per year for three seasons to sign Miller. I would strongly consider it if I ran the Yankees. Paying relievers big money is a risky proposition, but the Yankees need to find a way to really improve over this past year — and this is a way to do it.