Miller signs one-year deal with Cards
Reliever bolsters left side of St. Louis bullpen
ST. LOUIS -- Almost two weeks after it first seemed imminent, the Cardinals closed a deal with left-handed reliever Trever Miller on Wednesday. Miller, 35, agreed to a one-year contract. He said the deal has a total potential value of $2 million if he reaches all of his incentives.
Miller first agreed to terms 13 days earlier, but his physical revealed damage to the labrum in his left shoulder. Thus, what was initially a two-year deal worth $4 million became a one-year pact worth up to $2 million.
"It doesn't mean I can't pitch," said Miller, who explained that he has likely had the condition for a couple of years. "I don't feel a thing. I was actually surprised at the interpretation by the doctor. I had no idea that there was anything wrong with my shoulder.
"I played golf today. I throw batting practice to my kid. I just finished pitching in a World Series, and I came off one of my stronger seasons. So I am not worried in the least bit about this injury. I'm not going to use it as an excuse or crutch."
Still, the Cardinals will feel much better knowing that they have not committed more than a year to a pitcher who carries some extra risk.
The move is the first step in the recasting of a Cardinals bullpen that was too leaky in 2008, particularly from the left side. Miller posted a 4.15 ERA in 68 appearances (43 1/3 innings) for the Rays in '08, striking out 44 against 20 walks and allowing two home runs.
Miller is a classic specialist, vulnerable to right-handed hitters but very effective against lefties. In 2008 he held left-handed hitters to a .209 batting average, a .305 on-base percentage and a .308 slugging percentage.
It was that performance against lefties, as well as Miller's success at stranding inherited runners, that appealed to the Cardinals. He allowed six of 37 inherited runners to score in 2008, and 24 of 125 (19 percent) the past three seasons -- the top mark in the Majors (min. 100 inherited runners).
Additionally, with Russ Springer likely on the way out the door, the Cardinals like the mentoring that Miller can provide to a young bullpen.
"I will lead by example, and if someone needs to be disciplined, I will do it in private," Miller said. "I will call him aside and tell him I don't think that's something that should be going on -- that's not how the St. Louis Cardinals go about their business. And if they're doing well, I'll praise them in public."
For his career, Miller is 14-14 with 10 saves in 519 Major League appearances. He has a 4.43 lifetime ERA in 422 1/3 innings and has made at least 60 appearances in each of the past six seasons.
The Cardinals have southpaws Randy Flores and Tyler Johnson under control for 2009. Flores, however, struggled in 2008 and may be a candidate to be non-tendered, while Johnson will be attempting a return from shoulder surgery.
The club has also acquired lefties Charlie Manning and Ian Ostlund as options to add depth either in the Minors or possibly in St. Louis. Other lefties still available on the free-agent market include Arthur Rhodes, Joe Beimel, Will Ohman and Brian Fuentes.
Mozeliak, however, indicated that the team's priorities may shift with Miller now in the fold. Some negotiations, such as a reported offer to Rhodes, may quiet down as St. Louis turns to other needs. The Cardinals are seeking two starting middle infielders and perhaps a starting pitcher.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.