Given that we are entrenched in an even year, it's no surprise that the San Francisco Giants have the second-best record in baseball (35-23) behind the Chicago Cubs (39-15), who they beat two out of three times when the Cubbies visited AT&T last month.
Even with the impressive record, the Giants could certainly use an arm to fortify their bullpen. The relief corps currently holds a 4.01 ERA which ranked 19th in baseball, while the overall pitching staff holds a 3.48 ERA, good for fifth. It's no secret that the starting rotation has been keeping the Giants afloat, but reinforcing the bullpen should be a point of focus of the coming months for days when the starters could use a pick-me-up. Sergio Romo should return from injury before long, but the Giants front office is looking for an even bigger upgrade. Enter Andrew Miller, arguably the best option to potentially be available on the reliever market this summer.
The Yankees signed Miller as a free agent in December of 2004 and he is under contract through the 2018 season at $9 million per year, which is is honestly quite a steal consider the caliber of performance Miller has put up in recent years. This season he holds a 1.14 ERA over 23.2 innings while also being six of seven in save opportunities. The Yankees hold a 19-4 record in games that he makes an appearance. While New York will generally hold a lead to necessitate Miller entering a ballgame, he has made sure that he does his part to close the door on the opposition. In those four losses that the team has accrued, Miller has pitched a total of 3.1 innings and allowed just one hit, no runs, while striking out five.
The southpaw is exactly the kind of addition that the Giants should be looking to make this trade deadline, and with two extra years of control he offers even more than the typical deadline acquisition. If strikeouts are your thing, Miller holds a 15.97 strikeouts per nine rate at the moment. If you detest walks, he has three. The southpaw has a WHIP of 0.68 which is second to relievers with at least twenty innings behind Kenley Jansen's 0.59.
With that said, there are two big factors that could play a role in Miller donning the orange and black after the August first trade deadline. The first is simple: Are the Yankees willing to trade Miller and potentially sacrifice a big piece of a solid bullpen, effectively waiving a white flag at 2016 and potentially for the next couple of seasons? That is very un-Yankee-like, but certainly something for Brian Cashman to consider. Aroldis Chapman is another Bronx reliever that could be on the move this summer, and he is only signed through the end of this season, making him the more affordable trade option.
This brings us to the second obstacle: The price tag. With Chapman, the Yankees would be trading away a talented closer that will surely be sought after by a slew of clubs, but would only get his services for a couple of months. With Miller, they get a player that has 43 career saves, is affordable, and at times, un-hittable.
When Miller was traded to the Baltimore Orioles from Boston in 2014, it took a promising young pitcher named Eduardo Rodriguez to get the job done, and Rodriguez has proven to be a solid addition to the Red Sox rotation since his debut in 2015. That trade was made in Miller's final year before free agency and he had a very similar stat line to what he currently holds in pinstripes.
With that in mind, it would likely take a strong crop of prospects to get a deal done. Tyler Beede is one name that has been mentioned as a possibility, and he is 3-3 with a 3.05 through ten starts this season with Double-A Richmond. Beede is also the Giants' second-ranked prospect according to Baseball America. A deal would likely take at least one prospect in addition to Beede to get done. The Yankees are in need of pitching, and luckily 20 of the Giants top 30 prospects are quality arms that could be used in such a deal.
First base prospect (#5 in the SF system) Chris Shaw is a name that could be mentioned in negotiations, as Brandon Belt signed an extension earlier this year, and Buster Posey should see his playing time increase at first as the years go on. The Yankees also lost their first baseman of the future Greg Bird to a season-ending injury this year, so adding Shaw could help hedge their bets on having first covered if Bird's recovery were to have any setbacks. Adding to this, Shaw is a left-handed bat with some pop that could play nicely with the short porch in Yankee stadium.
Right now these are just rumors, but they are certainly worth keeping an eye on over the next two months. If New York really begins to fall out of it, look for them to start unloading players this deadline season.