Bucs to sign Miller to Minors deal (source)

June 26th, 2021

ST. LOUIS -- The Pirates are adding another veteran depth option in their Triple-A rotation.

A source confirmed Saturday that right-handed pitcher is signing a Minor League deal with the Pirates and will report to Indianapolis.

Miller, a former first-round Draft selection by the Cardinals in 2009, has pitched in nine Major League seasons. He recorded an ERA lower than 3.75 in each of his first four seasons, including 2015, when he pitched to a 3.02 ERA to earn a spot in the All-Star Game while with the Braves.

However, Miller’s Minor League signing marks his third in his past four seasons, as he’s not been nearly as effective as he was early on in his career. The 30-year-old had an 8.59 ERA in 19 games (eight starts) with the Rangers in 2019, elected not to play in ‘20 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and allowed seven runs over three appearances with the Cubs this season.

Miller has made three starts with the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate in Iowa this season, allowing four runs in 10 1/3 innings. He spearheaded the first no-hitter since 2019 for the Iowa Cubs with three scoreless innings on May 9.

Miller joins Steven Wright as longtime MLB starters in the Triple-A Indianapolis pitching group. It’s a low-risk move for the Pirates, as Miller provides pitching depth and a veteran presence on a Minor League deal.

The signing of Miller is not the only move the Pirates have made this weekend. On Friday, the club traded right-handed pitcher Jandel Gustave and outfielder Troy Stokes Jr. -- both at Triple-A Indianapolis -- to the Brewers for 17-year-old catching prospect Samuel Escudero.

Escudero, who has yet to play a professional game, will report to the Pirates’ Dominican Summer League team. The Venezuelan prospect was signed to a Minor League contract by the Brewers on Jan. 15.

“Our reports on him in Spring Training this year were really positive,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “As we know, we need to add position player depth. We need to add catching depth. This was a guy we really liked, and we were happy to get.”

Stokes, 25, was 2-for-18 in eight games with the Pirates this season. His move will open up a spot in the Triple-A Indians’ outfield, which raises the possibility of a promotion for a top prospect like No. 17 prospect Cal Mitchell or No. 24 prospect Canaan Smith-Njigba, who have both hit well at Double-A Altoona.

Gustave, 28, posted a 3.60 ERA in 15 games at Triple-A with 18 strikeouts to five walks in 15 innings, all in relief.