Saturday, May 25, 2024

A Cubs Trade Proposal for Star Closer Mason Miller

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I know it, you know, even if you’re living under a rock you know it because you’ve heard Cubs fans howl in pain every time Craig Counsell goes to the bullpen to protect a lead. The 2024 Cubs are good, but they have one huge weakness, the bullpen stinks and there’s not exactly anyone you can trust to take over as the closer.

Entering Friday, the Cubs bullpen ranks 22nd among all 30 MLB teams with a 4.64 ERA. They have eight blown saves, which is tied for 2nd most in baseball. Adbert Alzolay started the season as the closer and he’s now being used in low-leverage spots. Meanwhile, Hector Neris continues to play with fire and he’s somehow getting away with it, but there’s no chance in hell his luck continues.

The Cubs are getting healthier with the return of Cody Bellinger and Seiya Suzuki this week, while the starting rotation currently has the third best ERA in the league. Jed Hoyer and the front office can’t let this season go to waste without addressing the team’s biggest need and at this point that means making a deal with another team.

So, let’s take a look at the top closer option who is getting trade interest already this season and what it could take to get him if you’re the Cubs.

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Mason Miller – Duh

I mean, who the hell doesn’t want to trade for Mason Miller. Teams are already calling the Oakland A’s about their star closer and to absolutely no one’s surprise the A’s are asking for a huge return that no team is even coming close to right now.

Via The Athletic.

No team has come close to meeting the A’s price, according to a team source. Perhaps no team will. Miller, 25, is not only Oakland’s best young player, but also their best player, period. To acquire him, a team likely would need to give up a young player of comparable ability, or a substantial package of multiple youngsters who could be part of the A’s future.

Miller made his MLB debut against the Cubs on April 19, 2023, when he was still a starting pitcher. The right-hander made six starts last season and pitched in 10 total games, ending his first stint in the majors with a 3.78 ERA in 33.1 innings, striking out 38 and walking 16.

The A’s moved Miller to the bullpen to begin the 2024 season and he’s been incredible. Miller is 8-for-8 in save opportunities and has only allowed two earned runs in 16.1 innings, which comes out to a 1.10 ERA. He has a ridiculous 55% strikeout rate, with a hilarious 33/4 strikeout to walk ratio. Miller is doing that with the hardest average fastball velocity in MLB.

So, the big question is what will it take to get Miller. A reminder that he’s only 25-years-old, isn’t arbitration eligible until 2026 and will not be a free agent until after the 2029 season.

We talked about it on the Pinwheels And Ivy Podcast earlier this week and it seems like our proposal was spot on. Going back to Ken Rosenthal’s article in The Athletic, he mentioned how the San Diego Padres would have to trade their rookie center fielder Jackson Merrill. So, maybe that means Pete Crow-Armstrong from the Cubs?

Or what’s more likely is that a team would have to trade two of their top-100 prospects and maybe that means two of a team’s top-five prospects from their farm system as Rosenthal noted.

Would the Cubs trade Owen Caissie and Kevin Alcántara as the headliners for Mason Miller?

As I mentioned at the end of the Miller discussion on the Pinwheels And Ivy Podcast, I am absolutely in favor of going after him and while the price would be steep I think I’d stomach it. However, I can’t help but think about injuries.

What makes me feel a little more queasy about a trade for Miller is that you’re obviously trading a lot for him and you’re getting a pitcher who has already had a serious arm issue. Miller only pitched 10 games for Oakland in 2023 because he missed four months after going on the injured list with a UCL sprain in his right elbow.

That elbow injury is also the main reason that the A’s moved Miller to the bullpen this season in order to limit his workload.

So, how many top prospects would you be willing to see the Cubs trade for Mason Miller and which ones?

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