Serie-ous deal: Indians acquire Andrew Miller from Yankees

Posted at 10:22 AM, Jul 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-31 13:41:06-04
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Serious about winning it all this season, the Cleveland Indians acquired left-handed reliever Andrew Miller from the New York Yankees on Sunday for four players.
The stunning trade came less than 12 hours after the AL Central leaders agreed with Milwaukee on a deal to send Brewers All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy to Cleveland. However, that trade was stopped by Lucroy, who refused to waive his no-trade clause.
"There were some circumstances that came up that made me void it, obviously," Lucroy told reporters. "I think when it eventually comes out, everyone will understand why. That's it. I'm not going to comment on any specifics, nothing like that, as much as I'd like to."
Still, the Indians did land Miller, one of baseball's best setup men. Cleveland sent four minor leaguers, including highly touted outfielder Clint Frazier, to New York for the 31-year-old. The Indians have been lacking a quality lefty in the seventh and eighth innings, and Miller fills that void.
Cleveland had been interested in Miller for weeks, but the club was reluctant to part with any of its top prospects, especially Frazier, a 21-year-old who can hit with power and was recently promoted to Triple-A Columbus.
But with the Indians holding a 4 1/2-game lead in the AL Central over Detroit on Sunday, Indians owner Paul Dolan and president Chris Antonetti felt the time was right to go all in and see if they can win their first World Series since 1948.
"He's the perfect guy to have and we got him," Indians closer Cody Allen said before the club's series finale with Oakland. "It breathes a lot of life into this clubhouse. We're in first place with the guys we have, but to get a game-changer like Miller, that lets us know everybody in the front office wants to win as badly as we do right now. We're not thinking about two years from now, we're thinking about winning in 2016."
Miller's name had swirled in trade rumors for weeks. He was not shocked by the deal but admitted it won't be easy leaving the Yankees.
"I loved my time here. I enjoyed playing in New York. I liked living in New York," he said before the Yankees game Sunday in Tampa. "I like the guys here. I'm going to miss that. It's a time I'm going to look back at fondly. For me now, it's a chance to go to a team that's in the thick of it and has big plans for this year. So, you have to look at the positives and helping those guys reach their goals."
The Indians are also feeding off a positive vibe in the city started when the Cavaliers, their next-door-neighbors in Gateway Plaza, won the NBA championship last month to end Cleveland's 52-year title drought.
Indians manager Terry Francona applauded the team's bold move in getting Miller.
"We're getting one of the very elite relievers in all of baseball," he said. "Chris and the guys just went and got the very best guy there was. If you don't think other teams wanted him, you're crazy. They didn't go halfway. They went and got the best there is. There's no better message."
New York's decision to move Miller comes after the team traded closer Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs.
Possessing a nearly unhittable slider, Miller is 6-1 with a 1.39 ERA. He is signed through the 2018 season at $9 million per year. He's averaging an astounding 15.3 strikeouts per nine innings and has allowed runs in just eight of 44 appearances.
Miller owns a career ERA of 2.72 with Detroit, Florida, Boston, Baltimore and New York. Francona is expected to use him in the eighth inning along with right-hander Bryan Shaw as the bridge to Allen.
In addition to Frazier, the Yankees are getting minor league pitchers Justus Sheffield, Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen. Sheffield is a left-hander.
Shortly after they beat Oakland on Saturday night, the Indians struck an agreement with Milwaukee for Lucroy, who is batting .300 with 13 homers and 50 RBIs. The Indians have been looking for a catcher -- and a right-handed hitter -- since Yan Gomes separated his shoulder earlier this month.
But Lucroy, who was in the final year of his contract with Milwaukee holding a contract option for 2017, decided to stay with the team that drafted him in 2007.
"We know this is part of the process," Brewers general manager David Stearns said. "It is why we engage with multiple teams throughout the entirety of the negotiation. Jonathan elected to invoke the no-trade clause. We were aware that was a possibility."
AP freelance writers Steve Herrick in Cleveland and Mark Didtler in Tampa, Florida, contributed to this report.