Despite ‘Salivating,’ Insider Downplays Potential Yankees Trade for Flamethrower

Mason Miller

Getty The New York Yankees struggled against hard-throwing reliever Mason Miller, igniting speculation about a trade

The New York Yankees split their recent series with the Oakland A’s, which proved to be a showcase for Mason Miller, one of MLB’s best young relievers.

In the first game, the 25-year-old Miller struck out the Yankees’ most fearsome hitters — Anthony Volpe, Juan Soto and Aaron Judge — with just 14 pitchers to seal an opening win and put the league on notice. As MLB insider Ken Rosenthal noted on “Foul Territory,” the performance also vaunted Miller as a potential trade chip for a team like the Yankees, as many speculate that the Oakland A’s are heading toward seller status by the trade deadline.

However, Rosenthal added that despite the appeal of a trade for Miller, he ultimately doubts the team would be open to dealing him.

“I am sure all those Yankees fans who saw Mason Miller mow down the middle of their order in the ninth inning the other day are salivating over the idea of the Athletics trading Mason Miller, I just don’t see it happening,” Rosenthal said. “Theoretically, they are going to start ramping up for Las Vegas so, at some point, this pattern (of trading their best players) has to stop. They claim that they are going to start spending more money on payroll. Well, we’ll see, and if that indeed is the plan then they should be keeping guys like Mason Miller.”

Mason Miller Could Be a Difference Maker on a Playoff-Bound Team Like the New York Yankees

In eight games finished this season, Miller has earned six saves, striking out 23 batters in just 11.1 innings. His ERA has improved to 1.59 from a 3.78 mark as a starter in six games last season.

“The kid has embraced this role from day one,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said after Monday’s win in New York, per’s Martín Gallegos. “He’s got the stuff to be a back-end guy, and he’s starting to prove it. There’s a lot of confidence when he takes that mound. It’s a good sign for a young pitcher to come into Yankee Stadium for his first save and go 1-2-3.”

Mike Axisa of CBS Sports noted that Miller is MLB’s hardest thrower with a 100.7 mph fastball average, having also thrown all of the nine-fastest pitches in MLB as of yesterday.

“Miller pairs his high-octane heater with a razor blade slider that is averaging 87.5 mph with a 53.6% whiff rate,” Axisa added. “That’s a top 10 slider whiff rate and well above the 33.8% league average for sliders.”

The New York Yankees Might Be in the Market for a High-Octane Closer

All of this combines to make Miller a highly-coveted closer, the kind of piece that contending teams seek at the trade deadline to push them over the hump and give an instant boost to their World Series chances. Any team would surely enjoy that kind of jolt and the Yankees had sought to acquire hard-throwing closer Josh Hader over the offseason before he ultimately signed with the Houston Astros.

But, as Rosenthal noted, if the A’s want to contend in the near future, they may not be willing to part with Miller. He’s currently on a one-year, $740,000 contract and will then hit arbitration before becoming a free agent in 2030. That’s the kind of team-friendly deal that’s hard to part with.

The Yankees are relatively set at reliever anyway, with Clay Holmes tied for the MLB lead in saves at nine so far. However, Holmes is set for free agency after this season, and the Yankees could be looking to bolster their relief corps with a premier addition in the winter.

Read More