It took them longer than every other team, but the Brewers are signing a big-league free agent to a guaranteed contract.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Wednesday night that the club is in agreement with Wade Miley on a one-year contract that guarantees him $4.5 million.
Free-agent left-hander Wade Miley in agreement with Brewers on one-year, $4.5 million contract, source tells @TheAthletic. Chance to make $6M with incentives.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 4, 2023
Rosenthal added that incentives can raise the value of the deal to $6 million. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale shared the innings benchmarks for that additional salary.
Wade Miley's $4.5 million detailed contract with the Milwaukee #Brewers:— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 4, 2023
2023: $3.5 million.
2024: $10 million mutual option or $1 million buyout.
75 innings: $150,000
100 innings: $350,000
125 innings: $500,000
150 innings: $500,000
Miley and the Brewers will share a $10 million mutual option for the 2024 season, but both parties rarely exercise such options. The $1 million buyout adds to Miley’s $3.5 million base salary for 2023 to get to Rosenthal’s reported total.
Miley previously pitched for Milwaukee in 2018, rejuvenating his career and emerging as Craig Counsell’s second-best starting pitcher behind Jhoulys Chacin.
The southpaw rebuilt his pitch mix when he joined the Brewers, relying heavily on a new cutter to induce weak contact while using his curveball and changeup as his main secondary pitches.
Those adjustments paid dividends, as Miley posted a 2.57 ERA in 16 starts and helped the Brewers come within one game of a World Series appearance.
That shiny ERA was never sustainable. Miley’s 0.3 HR/9 rate was bound to increase, and his 1.85 strikeout-to-walk ratio was subpar. Still, there was ample evidence that his newfound penchant for missing barrels was legitimate and would enable him to remain a solid contributor on the backend of a big-league rotation.
That’s exactly what happened. In four seasons since his one-year stint with the Brewers, Miley has posted an 83 ERA- and 95 FIP-. While he has tweaked his pitch mix to feature more changeups, the glove-side cutter remains Miley’s bread and butter, and many of his peripheral stats mirror those from his initial run in Milwaukee.
Miley in 2018: 86.8 MPH exit velo, 28.5% hard-hit, 52.8% GB rate, .306 xwOBA, 4.30 xFIP— Jack Stern (@ByJackStern) January 4, 2023
2019-2022: 86.5 MPH exit velo, 32.4% hard-hit, 49.9% GB rate, .311 xwOBA, 4.33 xFIP
While Miley remains a solid starter when he’s able to take the mound, his availability has been spotty. He made 33 starts in 2019 and 28 in 2021, but injuries limited him to six appearances in the shortened 2020 season and nine outings in 2022.
Fortunately, the Brewers aren’t asking for a full season worth of starts from Miley.
Corbin Burnes was the only member of the rotation who did not miss time due to injuries last season. Those ailments forced the team to turn to Jason Alexander, who ended up tossing the fourth-most innings on the roster after his debut in June. Alexander was not particularly effective, posting a 5.40 ERA and 5.34 FIP in 71 2⁄3 frames.
Miley gives the Brewers a more stable presence when they encounter injuries in 2023, particularly if Freddy Peralta and Aaron Ashby are limited to restricted workloads. If he provides roughly 20 respectable starts, he’ll have done his job.
The signing is the latest example of the club prioritizing rotation depth to avoid a reoccurrence of the lack of reliable pitching that sunk last year’s team. The Brewers added Tyson Miller and Janson Junk to their pitching pool earlier this offseason and acquired former prospect Bryse Wilson from the division-rival Pirates a few hours before the reported Miley agreement.
Milwaukee has now added enough rotation candidates that it’s possible they explore a trade for one of their existing starters. The going rate for starters in free agency has been high, so the club may want to cash in by flipping sell-high candidate Eric Lauer or Adrian Houser to a team in need of rotation help.
The Brewers have yet to announce the signing, but once it becomes official, they will need to clear a spot for Miley on the 40-man roster.