Would the Red Sox entertain resigning an old friend to bolster the rotation?
The Red Sox have explicitly stated that they want their payroll to be less than $208 million for the 2020 season, which is the first luxury tax threshold. This announcement caps off a disappointing season, where Boston had the most expensive team in the MLB by $11 million and managed to miss the playoffs. If the Red Sox wish to play in the Postseason games they are currently watching from the couch next year, they must fill some needs through free agency.
The biggest difference between this year’s Red Sox and last year’s 108-win World Champion team was perhaps the starting pitching. The two aces, David Price and Chris Sale, both had ERAs over 4.00 and finished the season injured. Nathan Eovaldi, who was signed to a 4-year, $68 million deal made just 12 starts, and Rick Porcello had an ERA of 5.52. While last year, the Red Sox’s ace was a man who placed fourth in Cy Young voting and had a FIP under 2.00, their 2019 ace was a player with a 3.81 ERA whose K/9, BB/9, and HR/9 all didn’t change or actually got worse from last year.
The Red Sox need a player who is affordable, consistent, and has an ability to stay healthy. Enter Wade Miley. While the Louisiana-born left hander had an unimpressive stint with the Sox back in 2015, he seems to have developed into a far more reliable pitcher as he entered his prime. He had a 3.98 ERA this season and a 2.57 ERA the season before. Those numbers are no fluke, either. His barrel% has been in the top 8% in the league in both of the last two seasons, and he has been able to prevent opposing batters from lifting the ball, limiting them to just a 5.3 launch angle in 2018. An added bonus is his ability to perform in the playoffs — he dominated in the Brewers Postseason run last year, with an ERA of 1.23 in four starts. Furthermore, he has made at least 30 starts in seven of his eight MLB seasons since being called up for good. If the Red Sox sign him, they should have a solid top or middle of the rotation starter who can fill a major gap on the Red Sox roster.
There are a few concerns about Wade Miley though. His fantastic production in 2018 happened in just 16 games, and was due to an insane 0.3 HR/9 rate, which he has never come close to replicating at any point in his career. His consistency is also a worry, as he posted ERAs over 5.00 in the two seasons after being traded away from the Red Sox. However, his struggles in 2016 can be mostly explained by bad batted ball luck, because his FIP was 4.45 that year, and his bad 2017 season was mostly due to a complete loss of control that he has never shown throughout the rest of his time in the major leagues. While Wade Miley is susceptible to occasional unforseen stretches (both positive and negative), he does not have many major issues.
In the end, we can see that while Wade Miley is not perfect, he is a player that can benefit the Red Sox while simultaneously allowing them to avoid the consequences of tripping the luxury tax.