Orioles Acquire Unexciting, Generic Innings Sponge

The Marlins had to pay a decently high price for Andrew Cashner. Jon Morosi is unironically tweeting about the ongoing Jeremy Hellickson sweepstakes. It’s important to establish the market context in which the Orioles have now traded for Wade Miley. It’s been obvious for months the Orioles could use some help in the rotation. The farm system didn’t make it realistically possible for them to look at higher-level solutions. They’d have to settle for what they could afford. Wade Miley is what they could afford, with the Mariners getting Ariel Miranda in exchange. There’s no money changing hands. This is about as uncomplicated as a move can get, with Miley being tremendously dull and still presumably helpful.

That’s the thing about the Orioles. Even though they’re a first-place team, it’s a team that had issues. Recent results be damned, the Orioles, in theory, can hit. We all know they can relieve. The rotation has been bad behind Chris Tillman — so bad that Wade Miley is an improvement. There aren’t many contending teams that Miley would make meaningfully better, but that’s the Orioles’ burden and blessing.

Wade Miley allows runs. This would be his third consecutive year with a worse-than-average ERA-, and his results are mostly supported by the other stuff. There’s no one area where he’s terrible, but there’s also no one area where he excels, and when you put it all together, you have something like a No. 4 starter, who looks like a No. 3 on his better days. Miley doesn’t not get strikeouts, and he doesn’t walk too many batters, but he operates without particular precision, and home runs have been flying. I’ve been describing Wade Miley, but I could be describing a lot of guys. From a baseball perspective, he’s not a special asset.

There’s something in his favor, though. Between 2012 – 2015, he threw about 800 innings, and this year he should finish with around 30 starts. Miley is, at least, rubber-armed, and that has some value provided the pitcher in question isn’t awful on a per-inning basis. The Orioles need some earlier-inning consistency. Miley’s better than a lot of what they’ve had.

Tillman, the Orioles like. Kevin Gausman still has that upside, and Dylan Bundy has shown signs of delivering. Yet there’s no way to know how many innings Bundy will be able to handle down the stretch, and after him, you have a mess in Ubaldo Jimenez, and another mess in Yovani Gallardo. Vance Worley isn’t an attractive option. Neither are Mike Wright or Tyler Wilson. It’s difficult to convey just how unreliable the rest of the Orioles rotation has been, beyond the front, so while Miley isn’t a sexy pick-up, he really ought to be a boost. The whole idea is to outscore your opponent. Miley should make it a little easier for the Orioles to outscore whoever they’re playing.

Unlike Cashner, Miley’s not a rental. He’s under contract next year for a hair under $9 million, and if that were to go swimmingly, there’s also a $12-million club option for 2018. Miley, then, is of some additional future use, even if $9 million might be about his market value. He checks a box for next year’s Orioles, and that’s important since Gallardo has gone off the rails. Mostly, they’re thinking about this year, but this could make the offseason a little more simple. It’s one less thing to do.

Ariel Miranda? The Mariners’ return is sort of a prospect, but he’s also just two years younger than Miley is. The Orioles signed him out of Cuba, and he’s spent almost this entire season starting in Triple-A, where he’s been right around league-average. Miranda is a lefty who works with his fastball in the low 90s, but he has a full repertoire, which has allowed him to be better against righties than lefties on the year. Frequently, that’s the sign of having a good offspeed weapon and a less-reliable breaking ball. For whatever it’s worth, in Miranda’s one big-league appearance, he showed better-than-average spin on his heater. Miranda feels like someone who’s one tweak away from being a big-league starter.

Certainly not an elite big-league starter, but if you want to speak generally, the Mariners gave up the actual Wade Miley, and they received someone who might well become about as valuable as Wade Miley. The value to the Orioles of having Miley v1.0 is the certainty aspect — they don’t want to mess around with an unknown like Miranda in a pennant race. But I bet Miranda will get some starts for Seattle, and he has a chance to be toward the back of the 2017 rotation. From the Mariners’ perspective, Miley is better than Miranda today, but the gap could grow slim, and the cost difference is substantial. Having Miley for next season was unnecessary.

This isn’t a trade to talk yourself into. If you’re a Mariners fan, they didn’t rip the Orioles off. And if you’re an Orioles fan, they didn’t land an impact starting pitcher. The rotation is still going to feel shaky. But it should at least feel less shaky, which’ll help if and when the offense returns. Miley offers a little bit of help in 2016, and he’ll offer a little bit of help in 2017. And while Wade Miley might not be another Chris Sale, just yesterday Miley had one of the best starts against the Cubs that there’s been all season long. The Orioles just need to survive until the samples get small. At that point, all bets are off. Almost anyone can dominate for a day. Wade Miley did. That doesn’t mean nothing.

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.

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Joshua Millermember
7 years ago

I cant imagine Orioles fans having a problem with this deal, getting anything more than a Miley type was not very realistic.