Nothing in that headline should surprise.
We’ve been tracking the theoretical availability of New York Yankees reliever Andrew Miller for months now, and the fit he would offer the Chicago Cubs is better than the final puzzle piece in your 500-piece table-size Mona Lisa. (Say, why does the terrain on the right look so much higher than on the left, even though it is flat?)
That is to say, when someone writes that Andrew Miller is a top choice for the Cubs in the trade market, you can pretty much accept that as reality. The 31-year-old lefty has not only sported next-level-ridiculous numbers for the past three years, and not only would dramatically upgrade the Cubs’ pen for the stretch run, but he’d also be a reliably dominant arm in the playoffs, when the stakes in an individual inning could not be higher. And he’s under team control for two more years after this one at just $9 million per year. The Cubs could use Miller well beyond this season.
But, when someone writes about the Cubs and Miller, it’s still worth checking out, if for no other reason than it’s nice to dream.
Jon Heyman writes today about the Cubs and Miller, saying that the lefty is “believed to top their wish list of relievers.” The biggest questions, of course, are (1) how motivated will the Yankees be to move him? and (2) even if they solicit offers, will the Cubs acquiesce to a price tag that is going to be unbelievably steep?
Interestingly, Heyman says the Cubs also like Dellin Betances, but wouldn’t even ask for him, presumably believing the price tag to be too steep. There is no mention of Aroldis Chapman. All three Yankees relievers have reportedly been scouted multiple times by the Cubs.
The Yankees’ standing in the AL remains important to follow. At 41-43, the Yankees are 8.0 games out in the AL East, trailing all but the Rays. While they stand just 5.0 games out of a Wild Card spot, they would have to pass six other teams to actually be in that second Wild Card spot. Objectively? I say these Yankees should clearly sell. But, with the Yankees, that’s probably a tougher decision to make, given the nature of their organization.
Further, even if the Yankees do become sellers, there’s no guarantee that they’ll sell Miller. If the Yankees hope to be competitive in 2017 – why wouldn’t they? – then Miller is just as valuable to them next year as he would be to a team like the Cubs.
On the balance, I’d still be surprised if the Yankees move Miller, but if they do move him, I’d think the Cubs are as good of a bet as any team to actually land him. The price tag, of course, would be steep, as there would be a ton of interest from other teams, too. Heyman says Kyle Schwarber and Javy Baez would be off-limits, but mentions Jeimer Candelario by name as a possibility. I don’t love speculating on specific names, but, candidly, outside of the young talent already on the big league roster, I have a hard time saying there is any Cubs prospect who, on his own, should be completely off the table in discussions involving Miller. And the Cubs are still loaded with quality prospects.
As I wrote this morning, I do think the Cubs will, after using July to evaluate their internal options, be proactive in adding a reliever while they have a chance. Miller, if he’s made available, should be target number one, even if it means parting with a significant cache of prospects.