Andrew Miller pitched his way out of Boston. That’s a compliment.
The Red Sox traded Miller to the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday in exchange for minor league pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez. The deal — one of four trades executed by the Red Sox on Thursday before the 4 p.m. ET Major League Baseball non-waiver deadline — reflects the leaguewide interest in the left-hander, who is slated to become a free agent after this season.
“We had more calls on Andrew Miller than any other player on our team,” Red Sox manager Ben Cherington said Thursday at Fenway Park. “Every contender in baseball pretty much called us on Andrew Miller because he fits for everyone. He’s a really good left-handed reliever, he’s not making a lot of money, so there was a lot of teams involved.”
The Red Sox netted a nice-looking prospect in Rodriguez. He entered the 2014 season as the No. 3 prospect in the Orioles organization — behind renowned farmhands Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey — and the No. 65 prospect in MLB, according to Baseball America. The 21-year-old was ranked the league’s No. 6 left-handed pitching prospect, with Baseball America suggesting he projects as a back-end starter.
“We felt like the single best player that we could get (for Miller) was Rodriguez in terms of potential upside and impact,” Cherington said. “There was a lot of good prospects we could have gotten for Miller. We liked Rodriguez the best.”
Rodriguez, who went 3-7 with a 4.79 ERA in 16 starts with Double-A Bowie this season, joins a long list of intriguing pitching prospects within the Red Sox organization. That surplus of talented arms could help Boston absorb the blow of trading veterans Jon Lester and John Lackey, whether it is through the prospects’ eventual big league production or through their inclusion in a trade for other established starters.
Miller, meanwhile, has transformed himself into an extremely reliable setup man. The 29-year-old posted a 2.34 ERA with 14.7 strikeouts and just 2.8 walks per nine innings in 42 1/3 frames with Boston this season. There should be a good market for Miller’s services this offseason, and the pitcher said Thursday that being traded won’t preclude him from considering the Red Sox in free agency.
“No question,” Miller said regarding a potential reunion. “I don’t leave here with any animosity towards the organization. They’ve treated me well. Like I said, it’s something I know and something I’ve enjoyed.”
The Red Sox, in theory, could have hung onto Miller in the hopes of retaining him this winter. Boston instead took the safe approach and flipped him for the best deal available, eliminating the possibility of him departing without the Red Sox receiving any compensation. After all, the Red Sox aren’t going anywhere in 2014.
“It had nothing to do with pricing,” Cherington said of trading Miller. “He probably pitched his way off the team because he pitched so well and because when we are where we are and we have him for two more months, especially that type of pitcher, (he) is even more valuable for a winning team than he is for a team that is not winning as much. And so you have to listen to what you can turn that into.
“As with other guys, I don’t think this rules anything out going forward,” Cherington later added. “But he’s a Baltimore Oriole now, and he’s going to help them try to get into the playoffs.”
Miller pitched his way out of Boston. However, in a weird way, he might also have pitched his way back to Boston.
Check back in a few months.