Jul 8, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Andrew Miller (30) pitches during the eighth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
A Red Sox pitcher is seeing his name pop up in a few trade rumors and, this time, it isn’t Jake Peavy. The Atlanta Braves are in serious need of left-handed relievers and a recent report named Andrew Miller as their top target.
And why not? Miller is having a career year and his third consecutive good year since transitioning to the bullpen, posting a sparkling 2.23 ERA in 43 games (36.1 innings pitched) to go with a career-high 14.4 K/9 and career-low 3.0 BB/9. With the Red Sox out of contention, it makes sense to explore trades for expendable pieces such as relief pitchers, particularly guys like Miller considering that he is in his contract year. Boston will likely be looking to extend Miller before he hits free agency but if the Braves make an offer that Ben Cherington and Co. can’t refuse, then it makes sense to deal the lanky lefty. Let’s brainstorm what that type of offer might look like.
Relief pitchers do not typically garner huge trade returns but a pitcher of Miller’s quality coupled with the Braves’ desperation could net a better return than one may anticipate. The Red Sox could make a play for Lucas Sims but it’s unlikely that the Braves would trade their top prospect despite his subpar results in 2014 (4.97 ERA, 1.34 WHIP in High-A). If Sims is off the table, the Red Sox could perhaps make a play for Jason Hursh (3.88 ERA in Double-A), Jose Peraza (.347/.372/.461, 42 stolen bases between High-A and Double-A), or Mauricio Cabrera (2.75 ERA, 7.3 K/9 in High-A).
Those are a few of the Braves’ top prospects and there’s no guarantee that Atlanta would deal any of them. If the Braves are unwilling to trade one of those four prospects, however, it makes more sense for the Red Sox to attempt to extend Miller. Dominant relievers like Miller, a rare breed that’s effective against both lefties and righties, don’t grow on trees and it would be in their best interest to extend him as he continues to improve. However, one of those prospects could certainly change their mind if the Braves give into Boston’s requests.