How does Miller's departure impact the Indians' plans in free agency?

Andrew Miller is signing with St. Louis according to multiple reports

James Rapien
December 21, 2018 - 10:29 am
Sep 27, 2018; Kansas City, MO, USA; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Andrew Miller (24) pitches against the Kansas City Royals in the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

© Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Andrew Miller won't be returning to Cleveland in 2019. 

The free agent reliever is close to signing with the Cardinals according to multiple reports.

Miller, 33, has been in Cleveland since they traded for him in July 2016. He pitched his tail off during the 2016 postseason run that resulted in a World Series appearance. He also pitched well during the 2017 season.

Miller struggled last year, which could be why the Indians were comfortable letting him sign elsewhere. He posted a 4.24 ERA, which was the first time he had an ERA above four since becoming a reliever in 2012. Miller dealt with a right knee injury for most of the season. Indians manager Terry Francona said the knee started to give Miller trouble in August of 2017. 

It's not surprising the Indians didn't re-sign Miller, but it does take a reliever off the market. The terms of his contract are more important than the signing itself. Could his deal impact the rest of the market? It's worth noting that reliever Joakim Soria reportedly signed with Oakland for two-years, $15 million on Wednesday. 

Soria was considered one of the best free agent pitchers on the market. If he's getting $7.5 million per season, then imagine what some of the relievers who don't have his resume will sign for?

In an ideal world, the Indians will sign at least two free agent relievers. It's a buyers market for teams looking for bullpen help, which means the Indians could continue to wait for the top relievers like Craig Kimbrel to sign before they make any deals. 

If the Indians are patient, they may be able to replenish their bullpen with two or three arms and still find outfield help in free agency. They've shed $21.5 million for 2019 with the moves they've made this offseason. That could go a long way in signing Ryan Madson, Greg Holland, Tony Sipp, Brad Brach or any other free agent reliever. They could use the remaining money to address their needs in the outfield. A.J. Pollock, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Denard Span are all potential fits. 

The only thing derailing this plan would be another trade. The Indians are reportedly talking to multiple teams about Corey Kluber. If they trade him, one can assume that they'd be addressing their issues in the outfield and bullpen. Here's a list of the 2019 free agent class.

Want to re-live Miller's run in the 2016 postseason? Here are some of the highlights: