Capable of closing, Miller expects to stay in setup role
Left-hander bolsters an already formidable Yankees bullpen
SAN DIEGO -- Andrew Miller believes that he is capable of handling the ninth inning for the Yankees next season should it come to that, but the left-hander expects to be used in a setup role and will be ready to take on any assignment that the club gives him.
The left-hander said that free-agent closer David Robertson's situation did not come up while negotiating his own four-year, $36 million deal with the Yankees, and while he's now tracking the Yanks' Hot Stove moves as an interested observer, Miller feels that New York's bullpen already looks formidable on paper.
That closer situation took another turn late Monday night when Robertson, who converted 39 of 44 save chances in his first season as Mariano Rivera's replacement, agreed to a four-year pact with the White Sox worth at least $40 million, MLB.com has confirmed.
"I think I can get three outs at any point in the game, wherever that may be," Miller said. "Whatever it is, it's fine with me. I want to win. I want to shake hands and high-five at the end of the game more than anything. If I have to get two outs in the sixth, there's value in that."
Miller said that the idea of serving as a closer came up only briefly in his talks with the Yankees, though he was quizzed about it more seriously by other clubs. Those questions were natural after Miller excelled in a setup role for the Red Sox and Orioles this past season.
He turned down a larger offer to select the Yankees' proposal -- MLB.com has confirmed that the Astros offered Miller four years and $40 million -- and Miller, a resident of Tampa, Fla., said that his family liked the idea of being able to spend an extra two months at home during Spring Training.
"We discussed it quite a bit. That was certainly something that we enjoyed," Miller said. "With the Yankees, I knew that no matter what, there is an expectation to win and there's going to be the wherewithal to win every single season. That's what I want to be part of."
New York's bullpen was one of the team's best strengths last season, and Miller's acquisition should help to keep it that way. He posted a 2.02 ERA and one save in 73 appearances, striking out 14.87 batters per nine innings and holding opponents to a .153 (33-for-216) batting average.
For now, the Yankees plan to have Miller and All-Star Dellin Betances form a left-right combination in the late innings, with the closer role as yet uncertain. Manager Joe Girardi plans to take advantage of Miller's effectiveness against both righties (.145 batting average in 2014) and lefties (.163).
"I think what we've got now is very impressive," Miller said. "You guys probably know better than I do that the Yankees never stop -- if something is appealing, they never stop adding pieces. There's potential for more."
Miller said that he is looking forward to getting to know Betances, and having watched him from across the way last year in the American League East, he hopes to even follow his lead in a way.
"Honestly, what he did was pretty incredible," Miller said. "Everything he did was what I was trying to mimic, as much as possible. It seemed like he came in and was aggressive from the get-go. He has pitches where it really doesn't matter what he's throwing. He goes with what he's comfortable with that day, from what I saw. He was really aggressive in the zone, and that's what I'm trying to do myself."