With Andrew Miller now being in the World Series, will the Washington Nationals regret not trading for him in the future?
Back at the trade deadline, the Washington Nationals were desperate to find some help for their bullpen. While they eventually made a great deal in landing Pirates closer Mark Melancon, they may have missed out on getting arguably the best reliever in baseball for the next two seasons.
So far, one of the stars this postseason has been Indians left-handed reliever Andrew Miller. Miller was named the ALCS MVP on Wednesday. During Cleveland’s series win over the Toronto Blue Jays, Miller gave up three hits and struck out 14 of the 26 batters he faced. His manager, Terry Francona, has done an excellent job of using him in any situation.
Before the trade deadline, the Indians dealt some of their top prospects (outfielder Clint Frazier and pitcher Justus Sheffield) to the New York Yankees to get Miller. At the time, you can understand why the Washington Nationals wouldn’t want to give up some of their top prospects (Lucas Giolito, Victor Robles) for a closer.
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At the same time, Miller has shown he isn’t any ordinary reliever. The 31-year-old left-hander had 54 strikeouts to three walks after the All-Star Break this season. In his postseason career, he has struck out 31 batters and hasn’t given up a run in 12 appearances with three different teams.
Now, let me say this. I don’t think the bullpen was the reason the Washington Nationals lost the NLDS to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In the five game series, the Nats bullpen had a 2.18 ERA and gave up a total of five runs (all five in the final two games). Plus, there’s no guarantee Dusty Baker would’ve used Miller in the same way Francona has this October.
With that being said, Miller has shown he is one of the best closers in the game. Heading into this winter, the Washington Nationals have a need at closer with Melancon set to be a free agent. If they don’t’ sign Melancon, they will have to pay a a lot of money to get one of the other top closers (Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen).
Meanwhile, if the Washington Nationals had traded for Miller, they would have had him for only $9 million a year over the next two seasons. While Lopez had a strong end to 2016, he excelled more as a reliever than a starter. Meanwhile, Giolito had a mediocre first four starts in the league this past season.
Time will tell whether or not Lopez, Giolito, and Robles will be the impact prospects in this organization for the next few years. It’s too early to say the Washington Nationals should regret not trading Miller. Mike Rizzo decided to hold on to his top prospects at the trade deadline and maintained a strong farm system. Over the next few seasons, we will see if that decision ends up paying off.