There’s no way to better describe the Yankees’ trade of Andrew Miller to the Indians for Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield, Ben Heller, and J.P. Feyereisen than as bittersweet. Miller, arguably the best player on this struggling Yankees’ squad, is on his way to one of the best runs for a relief pitcher in baseball history…and that’s not hyperbole. At the same time, this is a smart move by the Yankees, recognizing they have a sub-par club that simply isn’t playoff worthy. The return isn’t going to knock anyone’s socks off (like the Chapman haul did), but it is certainly enough for a bonafide star in Miller.
Miller, who has otherworldly numbers this season in the form of a 1.39 ERA, 15.29 K/9, and 1.39 BB/9, is probably the best reliever in baseball this season. At 31-years-old and signed through 2018 at $9 million per year, Miller has the potential to continue to dominate while pitching for a very good Indians team for several more years. This isn’t to say Miller, like the prospects he was dealt for, is without risk, though. Miller missed a month in 2015 to a strained forearm, an ominous ailment for any pitcher. Although he appears to be past this injury, the lanky southpaw’s early career was derailed by injuries, tagging him with durability questions.
The return package for Miller is headlined by former fifth overall pick Clint Frazier, who flashes both borderline-plus power and speed, likely from right field . The 21-year old hit .276/.356/.469 in 89 games in Double-A this season, including 13 home runs and stolen bases with modest strikeout and walk rates, before being promoted to Triple-A earlier this week. A September call-up isn’t out of the question, though he’s more likely to make his big league debut at some point next season. He’s a global top-30 prospect, and a more-than-worthy first piece of Miller.
The next best player in the deal is left handed pitcher Justus Sheffield. The 20-year old has been solid in High-A, with a 3.59 ERA and 8.78 K/9. Although he’s only 5’10”, Sheffield’s fastball works in the low-to-mid 90’s, complemented by a slider, curveball, and changeup, which all project to be at least average. His slider and curveball, in particular, could grow into above-average offerings. Sheffield is still a couple years away from making the big leagues (with 2018 looking like a realistic ETA), but he’s also a top-100 prospect with mid-rotation potential.
Finishing up the deal are Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen. Heller touches 100 mph with his fastball, also working in a slider. Although he hasn’t received much prospect fanfare as a relief pitcher, Heller dominated Double-A this season (one earned run in 16.1 innings) before being promoted to Triple-A. He’s been very good there as well, and the 24-year old could be a decent reliever in the near future. Feyereisen, 23, is also a relief pitcher. He’s been very good in Double-A this season, though some control problems make him the clear fourth piece.
This move means the Yankees are officially ‘selling,’ which puts Ivan Nova, Carlos Beltran, Michael Pineda, and Nathan Eovaldi all on the trade block. Now focused on 2018 rather than 2017, the Yankees have one of the best farm systems in baseball and the financial might to once again be a powerhouse in a couple of seasons. Next year may not be pretty for New York, but the Yankees have a bright future. And while he might not be Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances isn’t too bad, either.