There are approximately 184,349 different ways the upcoming Red Sox offseason can go. Will they go after a big name outfielder like Alex Gordon? Will they trade one or both of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval? Will they acquire more than forty new relievers? Will they finally welcome back Bobby Valentine? Those are just a few completely serious and real questions that will be answered at some point over the next few months. The only thing that we really know for sure about this winter is the fact that the Red Sox will add a starting pitcher to their roster. In fact, they will probably add a very good starting pitcher who will immediately become the best on their team!
Beyond this mystery starting pitcher, we’ll call him Pavid Drice, the rotation figures to be a question mark. In fact, we don’t even know how it will be made up. Will they settle for just Mr. Drice and leave the rest of the rotation alone, or will they add another starter from outside of the organization? If they go with the second option and add another starter, they’ll likely have to trade one of the rotation members that’s already on the roster. None of this is new, of course. People have been talking about this for weeks, and many have come to the same conclusion. If one of the starters currently on the roster is going to be dealt, Wade Miley would make the most sense.
In all fairness, I’ve also shared that opinion. It makes a lot of sense! Miley doesn’t possess the upside of someone like Eduardo Rodrgiuez. He doesn’t have the strange track record that likely won’t result in fair return value like Clay Buchholz. He has an affordable contract that most any team in baseball should be able to take on, unlike Rick Porcello. He has multiple years of pitching like a legitimate major-league starting pitcher, unlike Joe Kelly. By simple process of elimination, he’s the easy candidate to trade.
With all of that being said, the more I think about it, the more I am uncomfortable with the idea of trading Miley. For as unexciting as he is, he’s the very definition of dependable, something that the rest of the current rotation lacks. Sure, Pavid Drice is, in theory, a dependable option, but filling in the rest of the rotation with wildcards appears to be a very risky proposition.
Before we get deeper into Miley’s profile, let’s look at just how uncertain the rest of Boston’s rotation could be. We’ll start with Rodriguez, who just had a very good first major-league season. However, despite his 3.85 ERA, 112 ERA+ and 3.92 FIP, this is still a very young pitcher with just a year at this level under his belt. The league now has an entire offseason to get a scouting report on him, and we’ve seen plenty of sophomore pitchers falter after a solid first year. Then, they have Buchholz. I don’t really have to explain that one, right? Porcello, to his credit, looked very good in the final month of a season that, overall, was quite poor. However, we’re still looking at a pitcher who has some home run problems and lacks overpowering stuff. We just saw the potential for the package to fail. The other options are Joe Kelly and Henry Owens, who both have intriguing repertoires but haven’t nearly proven they can sustain 30 turns through the rotation.
So, yes, that’s a lot of uncertainty in the rotation after the newly acquired ace, and potentially a dependable second- or third-tier acquisition. Now, the hope and the logic that would go behind this rotation set-up is two-fold. For one thing, at least some of these guys should break in the right direction just by simple odds. On top of that, the offense should be good enough to hide some inconsistencies in the rotation on most days. Of course, that’s almost exactly what was said prior to last season, and if any team should know it’s not the simple it’s the Red Sox.
All of this is to say that maybe we should be a little more appreciative of the boring stability that Miley can bring to the 2016 team. We know he’s not going to be at the top of the rotation come September or (hopefully) October, but he can be a key component to getting to that point. While there are a wide range of possibilities for all the other starters on the team, we can say with a relatively huge amount of confidence what Miley’s 2016 stat line will look like. He’s going to throw 190-205 innings. He’s going to end up right around average in terms of ERA+. He’s going to finish with a FIP in the 3.90-4.00 range. When you’re putting together a roster, it’s quite valuable to know you’re going to have that average pitcher on the roster instead of hoping you can get an average performance out of someone like Kelly or Owens.
Now, here’s the part where I contradict literally everything you just read. For all of his stability, Miley is still likely the best candidate to be traded for all of the reasons I listed in the third paragraph of this very post. So, why did I write this? That’s a good question, made-up reader! Basically, I feel like the Mileys of the world go unappreciated. If the Red Sox trade Miley, they will not be doomed. There are plenty of scenarios in which Boston makes the 2016 postseason without him. That doesn’t mean they won’t miss him, though. Without Miley on the roster, they need one more thing to go right in order to get to where they wanted to go. Obviously, that’s not enough to not pull the trigger on a deal. Given the rest of Boston’s rotation, though, Miley’s stability is enough for the front office to pause and think about trading him just a little bit longer.