St. Louis Cardinals

Cardinals close deal with left-hander Andrew Miller

St. Louis Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak plainly identified the team’s priorities for the offseason.

They got their middle-of-the-lineup slugger with a Dec. 6 trade with Arizona for first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. Friday, they got their left-handed relief help.

The Cardinals reached a deal with free agent pitcher Andrew Miller that includes two guaranteed seasons and a third-year vesting option.

The team did not release financial terms of the deal, but Ken Rosenthal of reported that the contract will pay Miller a minimum of $25 million even if he fails to reach the benchmarks that trigger the third-year.

“One of our stated goals this off-season was to improve our bullpen,” Mozeliak said. “Andrew Miller is one of the premier relievers in the major leagues and his addition certainly strengthens our bullpen.”

According to Rosenthal, Miller will be paid $11 million in 2019 and $11.5 million in 2020. In 2021, he’ll receive either a $2 million buyout or earn his third year by pitching in a combined 110 games over the first two seasons.

Miller, who was limited by knee and shoulder injuries in 2018, can earn up to another $500,000 per year in incentives. He also has full no-trade protection.

Last season, the 6-foot-7, 205-pounder lefty was 2-4 with a 4.24 ERA in 37 games pitched for Cleveland. He missed all of June and July before returning in time to give the Indians a left-handed specialist for the playoffs.

In two divisional series games against Houston, Miller didn’t allow a run, but walked three batters and allowed a hit without recording an out.

Over his last three healthy seasons, however, Miller has been among the best relievers in baseball.

From 2016 through 2018, Miller ranks among the top 10 in several statistical categories including reliever ERA (2.00), opponent average (.170), strikeouts (263), strikeout/walk ratio (5.72), holds (63) and WHIP (0.88).

A veteran of 13 seasons in the majors, Miller, 33, was an All-Star in both 2016 and 2017 and received American League Cy Young Award votes in 2015 and 2016.

Miller has been with six major league teams, beginning in 2006 with Detroit. He has a 49-48 record with a 3.98 ERA in 483 games pitched and has struck out 853 batters in his 725.1 innings. He’s participated in the playoffs each of the last five years, going 2-1 with a 1.09 ERA in 22 total appearances.

He saves 36 games in 2015 as a member of the New York Yankees.

The 6-7, 205-pound left-hander was a key member of the Cleveland Indians bullpen in 2016 when they advanced to the World Series. He was voted the MVP of the American League Championship Series that year, striking out 14 batters over 7.2 innings.

The Cardinals have designated right-handed pitcher Ryan Meisinger for assignment to make room for Miller on the team’s 40-man Major League roster.