With Hanley Ramirez leaving Los Angeles for Boston, plenty of attention has been given to the Dodgers’ needing to find a replacement at shortstop. Reports of the Dodgers shopping their outfielders has drawn similar interest while another area that needs to be addressed — the bullpen — has somewhat flown under the radar.
Manager Don Mattingly’s lack of trustworthy options in the bullpen last season greatly hindered the Dodgers in the playoffs and thus far, the same group remains on track to return in 2015. To no surprise, Brian Wilson exercised his player option and the only new face presumably guaranteed a spot in the bullpen is Joel Peralta.
That may change however, as according to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Dodgers are among the teams pursuing Andrew Miller:
The Dodgers, like the Yankees, are in serious pursuit of left-hander Andrew Miller. He would greatly improve LAD bullpen.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 1, 2014
As Olney notes, the New York Yankees are also believed to be interested in Miller, whose market may lead to him signing a lucrative four-year contract. Miller began the season with the Red Sox before being traded to the Baltimore Orioles, where he was a viable reliever down the stretch and into the postseason.
At the time of the trade in July, Miller held a 2.40 ERA that he lowered to 2.05 and held a 0.80 WHIP by the end of the season. While Miller was effective against lefties, they slashed just .163/.206/.261, right-handed batters also struggled against him hitting .145/.245/.202.
The southpaw went on to pitch 7.1 innings (five appearances) in the postseason and didn’t allow a run — reminiscent of what Wilson did for the Dodgers in 2013.
If the Dodgers are to sign Miller, it would give them a quartet of left-handed relievers that includes J.P. Howell, Adam Liberatore and Paco Rodriguez. Liberatore has yet to crack the Majors in his career and Rodriguez spent much of last season in the Minors or injured.
Howell is guaranteed $4 million next season and the team holds an option for 2016, though it becomes a player option should he appear in at least 65 games next season or 120 total from 2014-2015, and isn’t on the disabled list at the end of 2015; it also includes a $250,000 buyout.
The Dodgers’ interest in Miller may signal that while their desire is to lower payroll, they still will spend if it means filling a need. Signing Miller would perhaps make Howell, 31 or Rodriguez, 23, expendable on the trade market.