HOUSTON -- By signing veteran left-hander Wade Miley to a one-year deal on Friday, the Astros have a high-reward, low-risk option for their starting rotation in 2019, which is anchored by a pair of horses in Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.At worst, Miley holds a spot in the rotation until
HOUSTON -- By signing veteran left-hander Wade Miley to a one-year deal on Friday, the Astros have a high-reward, low-risk option for their starting rotation in 2019, which is anchored by a pair of horses in Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.
At worst, Miley holds a spot in the rotation until one of the club's up-and-coming starting pitchers is ready for the big leagues -- primarily top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley. The best-case scenario for the Astros is Miley repeats what he did last year for the Brewers and he becomes a key part of the rotation of a championship-caliber club.
Miley, who will make $4.5 million this season, with a another potential $500,000 in incentives, was introduced at a press conference at Minute Maid Park. The signing of the 32-year-old completes one of the club's main offseason goals, adding a starting pitcher to join Verlander, Cole and Collin McHugh.
"They've done a great job putting together championship teams here year in and year out, and I'm really looking forward to being a part of that," Miley said.
Miley pitched last season with the Brewers, who signed him to a Minor League contract after he posted a 5.61 ERA with the Orioles in 2017. He strained his groin last spring and he later strained his oblique, keeping him out of action until July. He returned to go 5-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 16 starts for the Brewers, and then he compiled a 1.23 ERA over four postseason starts.
"Last year in Milwaukee was a good situation," Miley said. "I was blessed with the opportunity to get over there. It was a fun year. I was able to help those guys go pretty deep in the playoffs, and hopefully we can do that here."
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And the Astros have championship aspirations. Coming off their 2017 World Series title, they won a club-record 103 games in '18 before losing to the eventual World Series champion Red Sox in five games in the American League Championship Series. The Astros signed outfielder Michael Brantley and catcher Robinson Chirinos in December to beef up their offense and they will be counting on Miley and McHugh -- a reliever last year -- to help cover the nearly 500 innings they lost in the rotation with free agents Charlie Morton and Dallas Keuchel, and the injury to Lance McCullers Jr., who underwent Tommy John surgery and is out of for the 2019 season
"We wanted to take a really good team and make it better," president of baseball operations and general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "We had talked to a lot of potential starting pitchers and Wade has always been a guy we've had interest in. It took a little while to get this deal over the finish line, but it was important for us. We have competition in the back of the rotation, but to bring in someone who had an established track record, and we feel confident is going to go out there and get the outs we need in a tough AL, for us that is a priority."
While the signing of Miley doesn't completely close the door on Keuchel returning, it remains unlikely at this point. The Astros will likely have a battle for the final rotation spot between youngsters Josh James and Framber Valdez, along with veteran Brad Peacock and Brady Rodgers, who's coming off Tommy John surgery.
James, the No. 62-ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline, and Valdez both showed promise in their Major League debuts late last season and they will be on audition this spring. Whitley, the No. 7 prospect overall, is likely to start in the rotation at Triple-A and make his way to Houston at some point this summer.
"I like the competition and I also like the stability that we have now we have depth," said manager AJ Hinch, who was the farm director in Arizona when the D-backs selected Miley in the 2009 MLB Draft. "We were very spoiled last year to only have five starters for the first half of the season until injuries hit a little bit. ... Competition is good."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.