Yankees: Revisiting the Andrew Miller Trade

It’s been almost four years since the Yankees traded Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians. How has the deal worked out for the Bombers to this point?

There was a time, not too long ago, when the New York Yankees weren’t very good. Now, they weren’t bad, to be honest with you, they just weren’t the true World Series – or even postseason contender – that most fans are familiar with. This span ran from 2013 to 2016 (although they did make the Wildcard in 2015), and in the last year of this stretch, the Bombers decided to blow it all up. In doing so, the Yanks traded away four major pieces of their roster: Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs, Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians, Carlos Beltran to the Texas Rangers, and Ivan Nova to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Chapman deal, as many know, resulted in a return of then-top prospect Gleyber Torres, among others. The Beltran and Nova trades didn’t return much, but they were both better than nothing for a team that wasn’t going anywhere, including the former fourth overall draft pick Dillon Tate from Texas and lefty reliever Stephen Tarpley, who’s now with the Miami Marlins.

The jury is still out on one of these trades, however, and that’s the deal that sent Miller to Cleveland for arguably the biggest haul out of all four deals the Yankees made during the 2016 trading period.

What was the Miller Trade?

At the time of the trade, Miller was the best reliever on the Yankees, considering Chapman had already been traded about a week prior. The numbers Andrew Miller was putting up were nothing short of outstanding, as the lefty was spotting a 1.39 ERA in 45.1 innings. He also had 77 strikeouts to his credit and a 0.77 WHIP. Not to mention, Miller still had another two years and $18 million left on his contract following the 2016 season. All of this made Miller arguably the most coveted reliever on the market, even ahead of Chapman.

Many teams were in on Miller, including the Washington Nationals. The Nationals were even rumored to have been willing to trade at the time prized-prospect Lucas Giolito for Miller, so yeah, Miller’s price was way up there.

On July 31, however, the Indians coughed up a haul, acquiring Miller from the Bombers for top prospects Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield, along with lesser, but still solid prospects in Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen.

How Has the Trade Worked out for the Yankees?

As stated earlier, the jury is still out on this deal. For Frazier, the righty-swinging outfielder has shown signs of flashes at the plate, but the Yankees have played him in the majors in limited time considering the team’s crowded outfield. This hasn’t been helped by Frazier’s injury history either – something that has been a recurring issue to this point. Also, Frazier has had trouble defensively in the outfield and it has reflected poorly in his interviews with the media, to say the least.

As for Sheffield, the Yankees, nor their fans, never really saw much of the lefty, only pitching 2.2 innings for New York in 2018 and eventually being traded to the Seattle Mariners for James Paxton, who’s a free agent after the 2020 season. In his first year in Seattle, Sheffield pitched 36.0 innings, striking out 37 with a 5.50 ERA.

Meanwhile, Heller has good stuff, but Tommy John surgery has slowed his impact. Feyereisen, likely the smallest piece in the trade, is now with the Milwaukee Brewers.

For the Yankees, this trade hasn’t really worked out quite yet. Having said that, there’s still time for the fruits of this deal to pay dividends. Who knows, maybe Frazier gets called up, plays significant time, and becomes a big piece of the Yankees. Perhaps Paxton has a strong final season before free agency (assuming there is one), and possibly helps carry the Yanks to a championship. Heller may become a diamond in the rough and a big weapon for the Yankees bullpen if he can steer clear of injuries. It’ll be interesting to see how these scenarios develop, following another season removed from this trade.

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