The Arizona Diamondbacks non-tendered Shelby Miller on Friday and the former Cardinal is now free to sign with any major league club. Should the Cardinals sign the right handed Miller and bring him in as an option for the starting rotation?
On the surface the answer seems to be obvious. The St. Louis Cardinals have plenty of options for the starting rotation in 2019. Many are young, inexpensive arms, that are not yet arbitration eligible, including Alex Reyes, Jack Flaherty, Luke Weaver, and Dakota Hudson. Add these to returning veterans such as Miles Mikolas, Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, and Adam Wainwright, there seems little need to add Miller to the roster.
Also, Miller has struggled since leaving the Atlanta Braves after the 2015 season, when he was traded to the Diamondbacks. In his three years with Arizona, he has a 6.35 ERA with a WHIP of 1.676 and a record of 5-18. Tommy John surgery in 2017 set Miller back and he has yet to recover. Last year he had a 10.69 ERA in only four starts.
Nevertheless, the Diamondbacks move presents an opportunity for the Cardinals to bring back the former first round pick. I believe a case can be made for the St. Louis Cardinals to take another look at the 28 year old Shelby Miller.
So why bring back Shelby MIller?
It's a good question since there are several advantages in bringing Shelby Miller back to the Cardinals.
Shelby Miller will not be a free agent until 2020 and could be signed for 2019 for less than $5 million. In the MLB world of contracts, this isn't a significant amount for any potential starter who had success in the past.
Miller had a three year 26-18 record in St. Louis with a 3.33 ERA and a WHIP of 1.230. In one year with Atlanta, he had a 6-17 record, but with a 3.02 ERA and a WHIP of 1.247. In spite of his tenure in Arizona, he still holds a seven year ERA of 3.83.
It never hurts have as many options as possible going into a season. Although the Cardinals appear to have many rotation options, there are issues going into 2019. Martinez, Wacha, Wainwright, and Reyes bring injury concerns that have plagued these players in the last couple of seasons. Young arms such as Flaherty, Weaver, and Hudson bring endurance concerns to the rotation, that were apparent in 2018. Finally, can the Cardinals count on another stellar season from Myles Mikolas as they got in 2018?
Also, the Cardinals bullpen will need to be addressed during the off-season. Certain arms that are endurance concerns, may need be added to assist the bullpen. It could be beneficial for an Alex Reyes, Carlos Martinez, or a Luke Weaver to be worked out of the bullpen, instead of pitching all year in the rotation.
Finally, give Cardinals pitching geru, Mike Maddux, a shot at MIller and see if he can work his magic on him. Maddux and the other coaches in the Cardinals organization, may be able to turn MIller's career around. I know the Diamondbacks staff failed to do this, but a fresh voice may be the difference for MIller.
So in conclusion....
Don't dismiss this idea out of hand. It looks like to me a low risk, low cost, and potential high reward move for the Cardinals. If it works, it gives the Redbirds some flexibility in their bullpen and possible trade pieces before the deadline in July to strengthen the team in a stretch run.
Bringing back Shelby Miller alone,won't bring the Cardinals a World Series title. But it could be one of a series of moves by the front office that could get the Cardinals closer to that cherished goal.