David Robertson is a closer. Andrew Miller isn’t. That distinction — and superior performance last season — actually makes Miller attractive to more teams on the free-agent market.
Miller isn’t restricted to the ninth inning. He isn’t attached to a draft pick. And he isn’t asking for "Jonathan Papelbon money."
That’s the deal that Robertson wants, according to published reports – four years, $50 million. But considering the demand for Miller, it’s possible that he could land the bigger contract; being left-handed gives him yet another advantage over Robertson, who is a righty.
Article continues below ...
Teams generally are disinclined to pay big money to relievers, but the Red Sox already have re-signed Koji Uehara, who will turn 40 in April, to a two-year, $18 million contract. Robertson, meanwhile, rejected the Yankees’ one-year, $15.3 million qualifying offer, figuring he could get a larger guarantee in free agency.
Now consider this tale of two 29-year-olds, Robertson vs. Miller in 2014:
By the numbers
Robertson has a longer, more consistent track record. But Miller is that rare power left-hander who excels against both left-handed and right-handed batters.
From 2012 to ’14, Miller held lefties to a .516 OPS and righties to a .558. Robertson has reverse splits; lefties had a .497 OPS during that same that three-year period, righties a .723.
Both relievers are excellent. Both will get paid. The question is which one will get the bigger deal. And the answer might surprise us.