Could the Houston Astros still be after Andrew Miller?
The New York Yankees made a surprising deal today when they traded four minor leaguers for the hard-throwing, All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds. Add Chapman to a bullpen already with depth in lefty Andrew Miller and hard-throwing right-hander Dellin Betances, the Yankees now have one of the best bullpens in baseball. So what does this mean for the Houston Astros? Could a deal for Miller, who has been reportedly linked to the Astros for the past two Winter Meetings, still be possible?
In his first season as a Yankee and as a full-time closer, Miller had a 2.04 ERA and recorded 36 saves in 38 opportunities. He struck out 100 batters in his 61.2 innings pitched. To further prove how dominant he was, Miller struck out 40.7% of all the batters that he faced last season. He recorded two wins above replacement last season which was .2 away from his career high.
According to a tweet by Jeff Passan, an MLB columnist for Yahoo Sports, the Yankees were very close to trading Miller to the Astros at the Winter Meetings in a deal very similar to what the Astros gave up for Ken Giles. The Astros gave up right-handers Vincent Velasquez, Thomas Eshelman, Mark Appel, Harold Arauz, and left-hander Brett Oberholtzer for Giles and infielder Jonathan Arauz. With this deal, the Astros have already answered the need for a hard-throwing closer in Giles and have the depth to get another answer at the end of the bullpen in Miller.
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If the Yankees expect a return similar to what Philadelphia got for Giles, the Astros do have the depth to provide such a deal. However, the Yankees are looking for depth at starting pitching because of the lack of viable options they currently have at the major league level. With the amount of quality starting pitchers given up in the Giles deal, I would highly doubt that the Astros want to give up that much pitching for Miller. Some of the options at the top of the Astros prospect list could be right-handers Michael Feliz, Francis Martes, Joseph Musgrove, and Asher Wojciechowski, who has already made some starts at the major league level.
This speculation all depends on the level of depth that Luhnow and the Astros want at the end of the bullpen. A bullpen with Giles, Pat Neshek, Luke Gregerson, Will Harris, Tony Sipp, and Josh Fields, already has the potential to be one of the best bullpens in the American League next season.
However, with the trend of these “super bullpens” coming into play with all the success of the Kansas City Royals with Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera and today’s news of the Chapman deal with the Yankees, the Astros has the depth to continue that trend. Who knows? Maybe a trio of Gregerson, Giles, and Miller could put the Astros up there with the Royals and the Yankees next season.