There was a relatively brief period of time back in 2015 when Shelby Miller became a near-obsessive trade target for the Chicago Cubs, what with rumors almost daily that SOME young bat was going to be traded for the then-Brave. There was even one point where a Javy-Báez-for-Miller-is-happening rumor made the rounds, I think at the Winter Meetings that year.
Anyway, it didn’t end up happening, and Miller was instead sent to the Diamondbacks in a deal that proved to be something of a disaster for Arizona. Miller was ineffective and/or hurt for his three years there, and was then even worse in his 2019 stint with the Rangers.
If you can believe it, though, Miller is still just 30 years old, and the reality is that you are always eager to take a chance on buy-low talent for almost no risk.
The Cubs have:
Shelby Miller has agreed to a non-roster deal with the Cubs, per source. If he makes the club, he'll earn $875,000 with $600,000 in performance bonuses. Deal is pending physical.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) January 18, 2021
Miller was set to be on a minor league deal with the Brewers last year, but opted out of the COVID-shortened season. That is to say, it’s impossible to know on the outside just where he is, physically or performance-wise.
When Miller was good, he was really good:
… it’s just that he hasn’t been good very often, and it’s been five years since he was last good. Miller’s 2017 and 2018 seasons were mostly eaten up by Tommy John surgery and the recovery, so his partial 2019 season was his first normal year back. Obviously it did not go well, leaving it very much up in the air what you can get from him in 2021.
This is a total flyer on a guy who isn’t yet old, and has had significant big league success in his past. Why not bring him in and see how he looks in Spring Training, especially knowing how many innings you’ll need to cover in 2021 (and also being realistic about how little the Cubs intend to spend in free agency)?
Signing a guy like Miller shouldn’t preclude other rotation additions, but obviously the Cubs have the openings there available such that, if he shows up in the Spring and looks great, well then you can let him run as far as he’ll take you.
It’s also worth noting that, given the injuries and the time away, it’s possible Miller is more likely a relief candidate at this point in his career. We don’t have any reason to know that quite yet, so I’ll just leave it open as a possibility. The Cubs have obviously had a great deal of success on that front.