With the Yankees off to a disappointing start over the season's first couple months, general managers around the game are already frothing at the mouth for the team's best players. About a week ago, it was reported that the Cubs have inquired about Nathan Eovaldi. Teams will undoubtedly be intrigued by the notion of renting Aroldis Chapman for a few months before he hits free agency. Now, Andrew Miller's name can be added to the buzz list.
According to Ken Rosenthal, the Giants have discussed trading for the elite Yankees reliever. That is not terribly surprising, as San Francisco is definitely in win-now mode and while current closer Santiago Casilla is reliable, he is nowhere near the dominant force of Miller. The Yankees have made some questionable off-season signings in recent years, but Miller has been a smashing success.
The four-year, $36 million deal Miller inked prior to 2015 looks like an absolute steal. He won the Mariano Rivera AL Reliever of the Year award last season and has a minuscule 1.79 ERA and 1.92 FIP over 85 1/3 innings with an outstanding 15.0 K/9. Currently sporting a 1.14 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings, Miller seems like a good bet to be an All-Star for the first time. His contract only makes him more alluring to the Giants, as they would only be on the hook for about $23 million over two and a half years, a huge bargain.
Given what the Padres and Phillies fetched in the Craig Kimbrel and Ken Giles off-season deals, the Yankees have no reason to not ask for the moon from the Giants and other inquiring GMs. Trading Chapman only affects a perhaps doomed 2016 run, but giving up on Miller would essentially be waving the white flag for 2017 and 2018 as well. Unless the team is bowled over by an offer, it makes sense to hang on to Miller. Trustworthy relievers might be a luxury for so-so squads like the 2016 Yankees, but they are still incredibly hard to find. If Brian Cashman thinks that contention is still quite possible in the next two seasons, then Miller would be key.
Rosenthal pondered aloud whether the Giants might move top pitching prospect Tyler Beede in a possible deal for Miller. Frankly, a prospect return led by Beede is laughable. Sure, he is a fine minor leaguer and first round pick from the 2014 MLB Draft, but he didn't even rank on the Top 100 Prospects lists from Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, or MLB.com. A team that really wants Miller is going to have to lead with a prospect better than Beede.
Unless the Yankees turn their season around in June and July, fans are going to be hearing a lot of Andrew Miller trade talk. This is just the beginning. Cashman reportedly had high demands for Miller during the off-season, and with him still pitching at an unbelievably high level, that price tag is going to remain big. Considering how much Miller brings to both the team and the clubhouse, and the fact that he's on an affordable contract for a few more years, it's hard to blame the Yankees for being attached to him.