There are a lot of people out there wary of giving any reliever a four-year contract. That much is understandable; relievers are capricious. Just yesterday, I tried to make the case that Andrew Miller would be worth Nick Markakis money. And now, Miller has been given Nick Markakis money, almost. He gets the same four years, but Miller’s getting $36 million, not $44 million. This kind of contract was inevitable, and it appears justifiable. At the same time, it’s not a surprise the contract was drawn up by the Yankees.
Let’s say there are teams who believe that Miller will be worth the money. Yet, it’s a clear risk, so, who could most afford the potential downside? The answer in this case, and in all cases: New York. From Kiley McDaniel not too long ago:
A Yankees source told me they could break even financially with a $500 million payroll expenditure[…]
When you put it that way, it’s like, why even bother with analysis? The Yankees don’t have the same worries other teams do. The Yankees do have their limits, but to some extent those limits are artificial, so if you’re in a bidding war for a player the Yankees both like and need, you have to be prepared to lose. It’s the winner’s-curse argument, with a twist where the cursed team is also uniquely blessed.
For the Yankees, it hasn’t been a case of Andrew Miller or David Robertson, necessarily, because they could still conceivably bring their own guy back, but at least, the Yankees have gone with Miller first. He was a little better than Robertson last year. He’s been very similar over the last three years. They’re the same age, and while Robertson’s good against lefties, Miller’s just plain left-handed, which could make him less vulnerable to the peculiarities of Yankee Stadium. And then there’s this: Miller was traded last summer. Robertson turned down a qualifying offer. So if the Yankees were to sign Robertson, they’d be forfeiting a potential compensation pick. There’s value in that, whereas with Miller, all the Yankees are surrendering is money.
And Miller’s great. Obscenely great. Now he gets to be paired with Dellin Betances, and, here’s where those two pitchers ranked last year among all relievers with 40+ innings:
Miller has one career save to his name. Betances, as well. Yet, statistically, last year these two were no worse than Wade Davis and Greg Holland, so if they’re great again in 2015, the Yankees could approach the late innings by deploying their best relievers based on the matchups. You could see both end up with 20+ saves; alternatively, one could emerge, or neither could get the role, if Robertson comes back or someone else does something. Even as a non-closer last season, Miller was worth a ton, so he doesn’t need to close to justify this deal. It’s just something he could end up doing, because he’s more than good enough.
On Friday, the Yankees opened up a hole in their starting rotation by dealing Shane Greene. Yet, they also plugged a hole in their pitching staff by adding Andrew Miller, and Miller should be no less valuable than some No. 4 or 5 starter the Yankees find as a replacement. There’s no such thing as a bargain reliever contract that costs thirty-six million dollars. But the Yankees have to worry about that less than anyone, and Miller is almost as good as it gets. He told Ken Rosenthal he likes to pitch in the AL East. The AL East hitters are probably getting sick of him.
Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.