Smack dab in the middle of the final moments before Bryce Harper signed with the Phillies, the Dodgers were out doing some shopping of their own. Their ultimate haul was 29-year-old journeyman infielder Brad Miller.
No, it wasn’t Andrew Friedman‘s answer to rival GM Matt Klentak’s attempt to separate his squad from the rest of the National League. Rather, it was one of those moves to give Los Angeles a bit of secondary or tertiary depth should an injury epidemic break loose sometime during the 2019 season.
While Miller’s contract is indeed a minor league deal, there wasn’t a need to create space for the Orlando native on the 40-man roster. He will, however, be participating on the big league side of spring camp.
More importantly, if shortstop Corey Seager‘s recovery program does not go according to plan, and if Seager proves to be unavailable for Opening Day, there could be a slight crack for the left-handed hitting Miller to slip through and make the team to start the season.
He isn’t an exceptional fielder by any means, but he’s probably trustworthy enough to provide average service anywhere he plays. During his early days in the bigs, Miller played primarily on the left side of the infield at third and shortstop, but in recent years, he made the majority of his appearances at first and second base. For the Mariners in 2015, he even logged time at all three outfield spots—versatility that Friedman has come to appreciate in recent years.
His banner season came in 2016 when he played 152 games for the Rays. He hit 29 doubles and a whopping 30 long balls, but his .243/.304/.482 slash line translated into a .786 OPS and a 1.6 WAR—not too shabby by any means, but still on the low side for a player who launched 30 home runs. One season later, the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder hit just .201/.337/.664 in 110 games with Tampa.
Last year, he hit .248/.311/.413 with seven homers and 29 RBI in 75 games between the Rays and the Brewers. Milwaukee acquired Miller in a trade with Tampa for utility man Ji-Man Choi in mid-June; however, the Brewers released Miller moments before the 2018 trade deadline in an effort to make room for the newly acquired Mike Moustakas.
Early comparisons portray Miller as a poor man’s Max Muncy, considering his most comfortable positions are probably first and second base. There’s certainly some offensive potential, though, as made evident by Miller’s 3.3 oWAR during his 2016 campaign.
Perhaps the highly-touted skills of new hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc can educate Miller on the science of swing geometry in an effort of reinventing his mechanics at the plate.