The Baltimore Orioles only made one big move prior to the non-waiver trade deadline and the team that they partnered up with to complete the trade was very surprising. That team was the Boston Red Sox, who are in the American League East division along with the Orioles.
The Red Sox sent their best left-hander in the bullpen, Andrew Miller, to Baltimore for the Orioles third-best prospect, Eduardo Rodriguez. Miller has arguably been the best left-handed relief pitcher this season holding a 2.25 ERA through the first 108 games of the season. He moved to the bullpen after struggling as a starter in the first five years of his career.
However, the Red Sox won’t be too upset that they lost him because, not only was his contract up in two months, they received a top-notch prospect in return. Although Eduardo Rodriguez has pitched to a 4.55 ERA in Double-A Bowie this year, he has had high expectations put upon him by the Orioles organization.
Sean Sylver from BoSox Injection (the Boston Red Sox FanSided site) was courteous enough to answer some questions for us about the newly-acquired Andrew Miller, as well as what he will mean to the Orioles as they approach the stretch run of the season, so here it is, enjoy:
Rocky Friedman: Who got the better part of this trade, the Orioles receiving left-handed relief pitcher Andrew Miller or the Red Sox receiving the Orioles third-best prospect in Eduardo Rodriguez?
Sean Sylver: I think the Red Sox “won” the deal. They received the Orioles’ third-best prospect heading into the season and even though Rodriguez hasn’t been as impressive this year, he is a 21-year-old arm that fits Boston’s current strategy of stockpiling young assets that may ultimately be used (in a trade) to retool for 2015.
That said, the Orioles received a quality left-handed reliever in Andrew Miller. There was speculation he may have been the heir-apparent to Koji Uehara in the closer’s role had he stayed in Boston. He’s really grasped his potential as a reliever. But he’s a free agent in two months. That’s the kicker.
So why would the Orioles trade one of their top prospects for a rental? We all know how good Andrew Miller has been ever since moving to the bullpen three years ago, but that’s a big risk to trade a guy that has been sought after so much by other teams over the past few years.
It seems to me that this trade was pretty lopsided because, although the O’s will get a fantastic arm out of the bullpen, the Red Sox got a great prospect in return, and they could just re-sign Miller in a few months if they wish to.
I find the idea of a team re-signing a player it trades away, while plausible, a bit overrated. It doesn’t happen often. Boston fans, for instance, hope Jon Lester is one major exception.
I think Dan Duquette smelled blood in the water in the AL East. He was in on a number of talks at the deadline, and in this case, came away with a quality bullpen piece who can help his team win the division. From there, the playoffs are, as Billy Beane says, a “crap shoot.” Quality relievers are in high demand at the deadline, and Duquette traded an unknown quantity to acquire one he thinks improves his team right now.
Speaking of that quality bullpen piece, how good is Andrew Miller? As far as we Orioles fans know, our team acquired a player that struggled as a starter in the first five years of his career leading to his movement to the bullpen in 2011. He pitched to an ERA of 2.64 last season, 3.35 the year before and has a 2.25 ERA so far through the 2014 season.
However, that’s pretty much all that the basic Orioles fan knows about this man. What can we expect from him and how will he help the Orioles in their playoff run?
Many dominant relievers arrive in the bullpen after they can’t cut it in the starting rotation. At 29, the lefty looks to have figured it out. He’s healthy, his strikeout-to-walk ratio has gone up for the fourth consecutive year, and he’s striking out 14.5 batters per nine innings, which is fourth in the Majors behind Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel and David Robertson. He’s abandoned his secondary pitches in favor of the fastball/slider combination, and his slider in particular has been a source of duress for opposing batters.
I would never have picked Miller as the best reliever on the Red Sox in any of the past few seasons, but he’s certainly cemented his reputation as a beast this year. That’s what Duquette seems to be after – a shut-down guy for the late innings. It appears Miller can be that guy in 2014.
Let’s leave you with one last question. The Orioles had trouble finding a successful lefty for the bullpen as Brian Matusz was struggling mightily in the early part of the year and Zach Britton wasn’t moved into the closer role until a few months into the season. They obviously traded for Miller for just that reason – to fill a void in the bullpen. So here’s the question: Do you think that Andrew Miller is the best laft-handed reliever in the majors?
Relief pitchers are volatile by nature, and Miller’s injury history and penchant for walking batters previously kept him out of the discussion. This year, he’s definitely earned his keep and could be a bullpen ace for the O’s. But given that volatility and his track record, I’d hesitate to give Miller any awards.
I thank Sean for taking some time to answer a few questions for us. Check out his site at bosoxinjection.com and follow him on Twitter @sylverfox25. I sure did have a lot of fun doing this and I hope that he did too.
So after what you saw about new Oriole Andrew Miller from a perspective of the team that just traded him, do you think the Orioles made the right move? I sort of have mixed feelings about it and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Although the O’s gave up one of their best prospects in Eduardo Rodriguez, they got a spectacular left-handed arm out of the pen who will be extremely valuable to the team. All Miller will do is get the Orioles one step closer to winning the World Series for the first time since 1983.