Pitchers and catchers may have already reported to Maryvale, but there’s at least one more on his way.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY reports the Brewers are signing former All-Star and Rookie of the Year candidate Wade Miley to a minor league contract, with some pretty significant rewards if he can stick in the major league rotation, as well as some incentives that come for relief appearances:
Veteran starter Wade Miley signs minor League deal with #Brewers that guarantees him $2.5 million wirh major-league team and $5.7 million if full time starter and reaches 29 starts.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 15, 2018
Miley has spent the last year and a half in Baltimore, and is a long way removed from his breakout season in 2012. He put up an ERA of 5.61 (5.27 FIP, 77 ERA+) in 157.1 innings, but was allowed to make 32 starts because, well, someone had to start games for the Orioles last year.
He was pretty much replacement level in 2017, but he was able to strike out 19.5% of the batters he faced, good for a K/9 of 8.12. The problem was his 5.32 BB/9 and an unusually high HR/FB rate of 19.4% that was about 7% higher than his career average.
Miley has struggled for so long, it’s easy to forget just how good he was at the start of his big league career. The left-hander finished 2nd in the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year voting, and actually nearly beat Bryce Harper for the honor, earning 12 first-place votes to Harper’s 16. Miley put up a 3.33 ERA for the Arizona Diamondbacks that year, striking out 144 in 194.2 innings and walking just 37.
He put together another solid season 2013, but started to show signs of losing the control that led to so much success the year before. Still, he was solid enough, posting FIPs below 4.00 every year until 2016, when he had a 4.76 FIP in 19 starts with the Mariners before getting traded to Baltimore. From there, things were pretty much a disaster.
The Brewers appear to be betting that Miley’s had a lot of bad luck over the past couple years, or might think there’s a mechanical flaw they’d be able to fix. Either way, since it’s a minor league contract, there’s almost no risk to the deal. Paying him $2.5 million if he’s in the majors is fine even if he’s (still) a below-average pitcher, and if he’s somehow in the rotation for 29 starts, odds are he’s pitching well enough to be well worth $5.7 million.
The team likely won’t announce the signing until later, since as Adam McCalvy notes, pitcher physicals don’t take place until Thursday.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs