Andrew Miller is pretty great at pitching, but you knew that. Everyone seems to know that, especially teams looking for relief help, as it's been said time and again that Miller is going to end up setting a contract record for non-closer relievers regardless of where he signs. One of the teams still considering him in spite of this price is his former team, the Red Sox, who, along with the Yankees and Astros, are still showing "strong interest" according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.
The Sox don't need a closer -- at least not right now -- because they have Koji Uehara signed for the next two years. They could end up needing one when that deal is over, though, and Miller will still be relatively young heading into 2017, as he's just heading into his age-30 season now. Since becoming a full-time reliever in 2012, Miller has thrown 133 innings with a 2.57 ERA and 13.6 strikeouts per nine. While his walk rate was still a bit of a problem in 2012 and 2013, further refinement this past season cut it in half and made him an unstoppable force on the mound.
As much as it might pain any Sox fans reading this to do so, you should credit Bobby Valentine for that one. He's the one who got Miller to ditch the wind-up and smooth out his mechanics so his command would be a positive instead of the reason for his demise.
Miller has wonderful velocity, the long limbs to make his pitches seem even faster than they are, and a killer breaking ball to complement it all. He's one of the top relievers in baseball and deserves to be paid as such. Whether the Red Sox will take that last step to bring back the trio of Miller, Uehara, and Junichi Tazawa at the back-end of their bullpen is still up for debate, however, in spite of this reported interest.
The Sox are still working through negotiations with Jon Lester, who is expected to make a decision by the end of this week. One wonders if Miller is part of the Plan B where the Sox don't get Lester, but need to try to make up for the production they were hoping for out of other parts of the roster. Part of that replacement production for hypothetical Lester could come from whatever trade returns they get over the next couple of months, but the ability to lock down leads in the last three innings games for the next two years is also a tempting plan, especially when the Sox might not have the rotation necessary to prop up the bullpen. Jon Heyman's most recent report on Miller backs up the idea of Miller as Plan B for Boston, as he writes that they're currently out while they're focused on the Lester negotiations.
The plan there would be to have an expensive but reliable back-end of the pen with Miller, Koji, and Tazawa supplemented by the kids on the 40-man who likely aren't starters. Those three plus the relief (read: likely superior) versions of Brandon Workman, Anthony Ranaudo, and Allen Webster -- and don't forget Edward Mujica -- is a pretty good-looking bullpen. It's also a pretty good-looking bullpen if the Sox have to look somewhere besides Lester for rotation help. You can move things around a bit, too, inserting Eduardo Escobar or Heath Hembree or Matt Barnes or whoever. The point is the Sox have inexpensive kids to toss in at the back-end who could all be helpful relief pieces behind the big three.
It's unclear what the final price for Miller will be, if he's going to end up making $8 million or $10 million or $12 million or whatever per year, but it'll probably be for four seasons. The Astros have money to spend and a real desire to make that team look more attractive, and the Yankees are a threat to skip over David Robertson completely in order to get Miller. A very rich threat.