The Cleveland Indians organization made one of its boldest trades in recent memory on July 31 by acquiring one of the most dominant bullpen relievers in Andrew Miller from the New York Yankees.
The price to acquire the 31-year-old lefty cost the Indians arguably one of their most prized prospects in outfielder Clint Frazier, along with J.P. Feyereisen, RHP Ben Heller and LHP Justus Sheffield.
Miller is 6-1 with nine saves and a 1.39 ERA in 44 appearances this season for the Yankees. He’s pitched 45.1 innings and given up 28 hits, seven earned runs, seven walks and struck out an eye-popping 77 hitters while posting a .174 average against.
He averages 15.3 Ks per nine innings and has allowed runs in just eight of his 44 appearances and has not allowed multiple runs in any appearance. Miller ranks second among MLB relievers in total strikeouts and is third in fWAR (1.8) and Ks per nine innings.
He is signed thru the 2018 season and earns an $9 million salary annually, so this isn’t simply a mid-season rental for the Indians.
The cost to acquire Miller wasn’t cheap and could be quite painful down the road especially if Frazier turns out to be a star, which is quite possible.
The staff at Burning River Baseball earlier this season rated Frazier, 21, as the Indians top outfield prospect even ahead of Bradley Zimmer. But in general, it costs a team something to get something and this type of move could be one to put the Indians on the path to the World Series as Miller fills a major hole on the team in the bullpen.
Another thing to consider is that the Indians farm system is considered to be rich in prospects while the Major League roster is filled with core players who are signed for long-term deals.This gave the Indians a position of strength to deal some potential for a player who can help right now in the Big Leagues and for the next two seasons.
Frazier, along with Zimmer, had just recently been promoted to Triple-A Columbus and appeared in five games going 5-for-21 with no home runs, four singles and one triple. He had slashed .276/.356/.469 in 341 at-bats in 89 games for Double-A Akron.
Feyereisen, 23, pitched for Akron and was 4-3 with a 2.23 ERA in 40.1 innings and earning five saves. Heller, 24, was 3-2 with a 1.73 ERA in 43 games combined for Akron and Columbus. Sheffield, 20, is a lefty and was a first-round selection of the Indians in 2014. He was 7-5 with a 3.59 ERA in 19 games and 95.1 innings for Class-A Lynchburg.