In a move that may signal the Yankees’ full-on acceptance of 2016 being a lost campaign, the team dealt All-Star reliever Andrew Miller to the Indians, as first reported by FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. New York received outfielder Clint Frazier and minor league pitchers Justus Sheffield, Ben Heller, and J.P. Feyereisen in return.
After weeks of seeing his name dangled in trades, Miller is headed to an Indians team that is currently the class of the American League Central with a 60-42 record. The 31-year-old has been one of the most dominant relievers over the past several seasons, maintaining his usually solid performance this year.
In 44 games, Miller sports a 6-1 record with a 1.44 ERA, nine saves, and 77 strikeouts in 45-and-one-third innings (15.3 K/9). He signed a four-year, $36 million deal with the Yankees prior to the 2015 season and saved 36 games last season.
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) July 31, 2016
“I will fondly remember my time as a Yankee,” Miller wrote on Twitter. “The fans, staff and teammates will never be forgotten. A special experience I am grateful for.”
With Aroldis Chapman dealt earlier this week and Miller headed to Cleveland, the Yankees’ once feared bullpen now features Dellin Betances as closer. Betances was displaced by Miller as closer following 2014 and then displaced by Miller once again when Chapman was acquired in the offseason, moving from closer to seventh inning pitcher in a two-year span.
However, Betances and Miller became good friends during their year-and-a-half stint as teammates, making Sunday morning’s trade difficult to absorb.
“We lost a true leader and a good friend for me, somebody we all kind of leaned on,” Betances said to the New York Post. “He helped us the last couple of years. He has been the best relief pitcher in baseball and that is tough. This is new to me, obviously, but it’s tough when you see good friends go.”
The Yankees had communicated to Miller that if they were blown away by an offer, they would take it. Without a no-trade clause in his contract — something the Yankees avoided by assuaging to Miller’s contractual demands — he had no say in his final destination.
Frazier, 21, is the centerpiece of the Yankees’ return. A former first-round pick (fifth overall) in the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft, Frazier has developed into a skilled hitter, praised for his bat speed. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman described Frazier’s bat speed as “legendary.”
The Loganville, Georgia, native quickly ascended the minor leagues; Baseball America rated him 21st on their midseason list of the game’s top 100 prospects while MLB rated him 24th in their assessment.
— MiLB.com (@MiLB) July 31, 2016
He hit 0.276/0.356/0.469 with 13 homers and 48 runs batted in through 89 games at Double-A this year. Frazier was promoted to Triple-A recently, spending only five games at the level before the deal.
Known for his flowing, long red hair, Frazier tweeted his excitement about donning the pinstripes and needing a haircut. He will report to Triple-A.
Sheffield, 20, is the other major piece headed to the Yankees. A former 31st overall pick from the 2014 draft, he has pitched well at the Class-A level this season, sporting a 7-5 record with a 3.59 ERA in 95-and-one-third innings. The left-hander was ranked 69th on Baseball America’s midseason top 100 list while MLB.com rated him 95th. Despite his smaller 5-foot-10 frame, Sheffield is expected to parlay his assortment of pitches into solid mid-rotation status.
— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) July 31, 2016
As for Heller and Feyereisen, they’re both expected to help the Yankee’s bullpen in the future, according to MLB’s Jim Callis. Rated the Indians’ No.30 prospect by MLB.com, Heller, 24, has looked well at Triple-A in his 28-game stint, pitching to a 2.59 ERA. He’s known as a hard thrower capable of reaching triple digits on the radar gun.
Feyereisen, 23, has pitched well at Double-A, owning a 2.23 ERA in 40-and-one-third innings. A former 16th round in the 2014 MLB June Amateur Draft, Feyereisen is poised for a bullpen role in the near future.
[Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]