Brewers ink righty Miller to Minor League deal
Club also brings back infielder Perez
MILWAUKEE -- After pitching for Tampa Bay's Triple-A team last season, 33-year-old reliever Jim Miller has followed his former farm director to Milwaukee by agreeing to a Minor League contract with the Brewers.
Miller has pitched in the Majors for the A's, Orioles, Rockies and Yankees, including a 33-game stint with Oakland in 2012. His new deal did not include an invitation to Major League Spring Training, but the right-hander will take part in the Brewers' invitation-only Minor League minicamp.
Miller was one of two signings that came to light Tuesday, neither of which were announced by the Brewers, who typically don't release information about Minor League agreements unless they include invitations to Major League Spring Training. According to Major League Baseball's transactions database, the Brewers also re-signed infielder Hernan Perez, who spent most of the 2015 season in Milwaukee but became a free agent after being outrighted from the 40-man roster.
Perez batted .270/.281/.365 in 90 games for the Brewers in 2015 and briefly served as the everyday third baseman before returning to a reserve role.
According to a source, Miller picked the Brewers over three other teams in large part because of his relationship with Milwaukee's new assistant general manager, Matt Arnold, who was formerly the Rays' director of player personnel. Last season at Triple-A Durham, the Rays' top affiliate, Miller posted a 2.91 ERA in 44 games and had his best ratio of strikeouts-to-walks (5.46) since Rookie ball in 2004.
In 50 Major League appearances over parts of five seasons, Miller has a 3.48 ERA. His only extended opportunity in the big leagues came in 2012 in Oakland, where Miller pitched in 33 games with a 2.59 ERA and a .217 opponents' average. He's made only three Major League appearances since then, most recently with the Yankees in '14.
The bullpen was a strength for an otherwise disappointing Brewers team in 2015, and the entire unit is either signed or under club control for '16. That includes closer Francisco Rodriguez and setup men Will Smith and Jeremy Jeffress, all of whom could be trade bait should general manager David Stearns opt to continue a series of rebuilding trades that began under former GM Doug Melvin. Rodriguez is entering the final guaranteed year of his contract, and Smith's price tag will increase this winter, because he is arbitration-eligible for the first time.
Miller is the seventh client of agent Josh Kusnick to land with the Brewers in the past two years. The list includes Jeffress, a former first-round Draft pick of Milwaukee who overcame myriad physical and personal challenges to re-establish himself as a key bullpen cog.
Kusnick also represents right-hander Jaye Chapman, who is coming off a successful season split between Double-A Biloxi and Triple-A Colorado Springs and re-signed on a Minor League deal last month. Like Miller, Chapman will take part in the club's Minor League minicamp.