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Cardinals To Sign Trever Miller

So much for the Rays keeping the 2008 roster together. The first member of the AL champs left town late last night, with lefty reliever Trever Miller agreeing to a deal with the Cardinals.

The signing trickled on the blog of Post-Dispatch sports writer Bernie Miklasz, who claims that Miller will be in St. Louis Thursday to undergo a physical and sign the contract. As Miklasz points out, Miller was impressive as Tampa's left handed specialist, holding left handed hitters to a .209 average. Here's the full early-morning story from Post-Dispatch writer Derrick Goold, while we're at it.

FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal is confirming that the sides are close to a deal, but isn't confirming whether it's a one or two-year contract. No big surprise that the deal is relatively short-term, so the Rosenthal story doesn't do much except confirm a deal is in the works.

The more interesting aspect of the deal seems to be that St. Louis pulled the trigger on Miller before a pair of other relievers they were said to be targeting: Will Ohman and Arthur Rhodes. Ohman, of course, is coming off a strong year in Atlanta after three full seasons and parts of two others with the Cardinals' division rivals, the Cubs. Rhodes split time with the Mariners and Marlins, and has pitched for six teams, though the bulk of his career (all the early years) came with that team just to the north up in Baltimore.

So why did St. Louis GM John Mozeliak sign up Miller before moving on Ohman or Rhodes? Your guess is as good as mine. Ohman allegedly received a lucrative offer from the Braves to stay put on Monday, so maybe St. Louis didn't think they could top it. Only the Cardinals front office knows why they picked Miller for sure, though it'll be interesting to see if murmurs about other suitors for the lefty trickle out after he officially signs today.

What do people think? Are lefty relief specialists going to be the first group of free agents to go completely off the board this offseason?

By Cameron Smith  |  November 20, 2008; 1:52 AM ET
Categories:  Cardinals , Rays  
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Comments

I think relievers in general will go early this year. There are many relievers on the market including some elite relievers, but I think the market is likely to treat them like a commodity rather than rare jewels. Sure, K-ROD will likely get big money, but the Rays, Dodgers, and Brewers made it to the post season without top of the line closers. You don't have to carry that cost all year long to compete if you have other assets like good starting pitching, respectable middle relief, and some offense. Relievers have been overvalued in recent years and I think you will see some relievers saying yes to deals early to ensure that they get the available jobs.

Posted by: natbisquit | November 20, 2008 8:02 AM | Report abuse

BTW, some recent examples of how teams have overvalued relief pitchers include the 2006 Cubs who signed Eyre and Howry above market prices and the 2007 Orioles who acquired everybody they could find including Baez, Bradford, etc... above market prices. WHether in trade or free agency, the Reds have also had a history of chasing relief pitchers at high prices such as Francisco Cordero, Bray, and Majewski. More than any other position, the return on investment for relievers is hard to predict.

Posted by: natbisquit | November 20, 2008 8:11 AM | Report abuse

NatsBisquit - agree and disagree about overvaluing middle relievers lately. You may be right if you mean they get paid more than their value in terms of wins, as the SABR folks calculate such things. However, the market is the market, and I think the Affeldt signing is a signal that veteran middle relievers and set up guys will cost in the millions, in contrast to team controlled and developed live arms. Think also about the Crisp trade - a statistically-inclined team valued a pre-arbitration hard throwing middle reliever with a record of success against RH as much as a useful, 800+ inning, good range, good base running 4th OF who could start for other teams. I'll be curious as to the contract Miller signed. I view Miller as a LOOGY and not even an Affeldt / Okajima type who can handle righties and lefties. If it's more than $1.5 million, that's a lot.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | November 20, 2008 8:39 AM | Report abuse

JCA - I think your points are correct too. I would simply argue that the smart/lucky Free Agent relievers will sign early this year. Supply is greater than demand. Those who sign early will get their money. By February there will still be quality relievers on the market that will have to take lower pay for a shot. This is not a good year to try to hold out for 125% of market value. Take 95% to sign with a good team or 100% to sign with any team. Starter Kyle Loshe tried for 125% of market value last year and ended up signing late for 75% or less of his true value.

Posted by: natbisquit | November 20, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I hope a guy like Dennys Reyes falls through the cracks and lands on So. Capitol. Boz's article today about abundance of talent was a bit surprising. I had not realized the quantity out there. That, plus the economy, may compensate for inflation driven by the new money sources for MLB owners and hold back salaries a bit for the less than elite.

BTW - Miller received $2 million from TB for one year, counting his buyout. Any bets on what his contract will be?

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | November 20, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

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