More on the Wade Miley Claim: What It Says About the Cubs Offseason, Role, Pitches, More

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More on the Wade Miley Claim: What It Says About the Cubs Offseason, Role, Pitches, More

Chicago Cubs

On Friday, the Cubs surprised the baseball world by claiming lefty Wade Miley off of waivers from the Reds. Well, that is to say, the Reds surprised folks by letting Miley and his $10 million team option for 2022 go for nothing.

More on the claim, and the Cubs’ newest pitcher …

•   That the Cubs were ready and willing to jump on the opportunity, locking down $10 million in 2022 salary before the offseason even really kicked off, tells me two things: (1) the Cubs really like Miley for their rotation, and (2) they do indeed have plenty of financial flexibility, especially for short-term additions.

•   To that second point, from Patrick Mooney, on what the claim says about the Cubs’ offseason:

While labor uncertainty clouds the entire baseball landscape, Cubs president Jed Hoyer signaled that pitching would be the No. 1 priority throughout this winter. Hoyer’s front office will be operating with a lot more financial flexibility than recent offseasons, due to a series of trades for prospects, the number of contracts falling off the books and improving conditions in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Look at how the Cubs treated another left-handed pitcher last winter, declining to match Washington’s one-year, $5 million offer to Jon Lester, a fan favorite, a clubhouse leader and a three-time World Series champ who ultimately notched his 200th career win with the Cardinals.

•   Miley has had an up and down career, and while you can’t/shouldn’t count on him to duplicate his 3.37 ERA next year, he has been exceptionally good at managing contact for many, many years now. It’s not hard to see how he does it when you consider his best pitch:

•   Thanks to the location and the movement, there’s really nothing you can do with this pitch except maybe foul it off (as a righty). Putting that thing in play as it’s bearing in on you and down is just brutally difficult, to say nothing of hitting it hard or in the air. It’s a near perfect pitch, and Miley has been ridiculous with it since 2018.

•   The question, though, as a guy ages – he’ll be 35 for next season – is whether he can continue that kind of pristine command. We saw it with Jon Lester and his similar efforts to work inside against righties. We typically think of velo or movement losses as the body ages, but executing your mechanics and release perfectly also become more and more difficult as you get older. So the command also starts to go. Here’s hoping Miley can continue to hold onto his for at least another year.

•   From Miley’s new pitching coach:

•   Random stupid point that I kinda mean, kinda don’t mean, but want to say anyway: claiming Miley early in the offseason feels like the kind of thing the Giants were doing last year.

•   I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that each of the Orioles, Diamondbacks, Rangers, Pirates, Nationals, and Marlins passed on Miley before he got to the Cubs. So, to them at least, it was not a no-brainer that he had value at one-year, $10 million. Even the non-competitive teams, I would have figured, might want to grab Miley so they could try to flip him in-season. And then you have the Rangers and MAYBE Pirates trying to turn the corner into competitiveness next year. The only team that wouldn’t have made sense, clearly, was the Marlins, who have a full up rotation full of young arms and a tight budget.

•   All that said: if it was a borderline case and the Cubs were able to get him for just short-term money, then whatever. Let the other teams decide it’s a bit too much to commit. The Cubs are a team that HAS plenty of short-term money available, HAS tons of space in the rotation, and HAS a path toward seeing if they might compete in the first half next year. Even as I could see some of the teams ahead of them in the waiver order wanting Miley, I do think the Cubs made as much sense as any team in baseball.

•   As for how Miley fits into the mix with the Cubs next year, he’ll obviously slot into the middle of the rotation, and while he’s not a guy you’re gonna mark down for 7+ innings every night, he should be a guy who consistently goes five. And as a control/command lefty, he could pair nicely with some multi-inning, hard-throwing righties thereafter. Imagine getting Miley two times through the order, and then having to face Adbert Alzolay the next time through.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.