Cardinals sign lefty reliever Miller to 2-year deal

The St. Louis Cardinals have signed two-time All-Star reliever Andrew Miller to a two-year contract, the team announced Friday.

According to The Athletic, Miller will receive $25 million over the next two seasons with a vesting option that would pay him $12 million in 2021 or a $2.5 million buyout. He can earn another $500,000 per season in appearance incentives.

“One of our stated goals this off-season was to improve our bullpen,” John Mozeliak, the Cardinals’ president of baseball operations, said via statement. “Andrew Miller is one of the premier relievers in the Major Leagues, and his addition certainly strengthens our bullpen.”

Miller, who pushed Cleveland through the postseason in 2016, has proved to be one of baseball’s best relievers when healthy, but knee and other assorted injuries have derailed him since last year. He made three trips to the disabled list in 2018 and was on the DL twice in 2017 with patella tendinitis. He finished last season with a 4.24 ERA, 45 strikeouts, 10 holds, 2 saves and 3 blown saves.

Other than two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, the 33-year-old lefty was the most important pitcher on the Indians’ staff. Cleveland’s bullpen wasn’t the same in 2018 without a consistently healthy Miller, who dominated in the ’16 postseason — he struck out 30 in 19 1/3 innings — and helped the Indians get to their first World Series since 1997.

Miller opened last season with 10 scoreless innings before hurting his left hamstring and going on the disabled list. He also missed two months later in the season with inflammation in his right knee and a left shoulder impingement, an absence that had a detrimental effect on the Indians’ relief corps, which finished with the third-worst ERA in the American League.

Miller became a core member of Cleveland’s bullpen after being acquired from the New York Yankees for four prospects on July 31, 2016. He was 4-0 with three saves and a 1.55 ERA after the trade and pitched in a variety of relief roles in Cleveland’s run to the 2016 Series.

Miller was the MVP of the AL Championship Series against Toronto, becoming just the fourth reliever ever to win the award, joining Dennis Eckersley (1988), Mariano Rivera (2003) and Koji Uehara (2013). Miller was even better in the 2017 season, going 4-3 with two saves and a 1.44 ERA in 57 appearances, striking out 95 in 62 2/3 innings.

Miller is 49-48 over his career with 53 saves, 108 holds and 853 strikeouts over 725 1/3 innings with just 11 blown saves.

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