There was addition and subtraction for the Dodgers’ bullpen on the eve of the Winter Meetings.
The Dodgers officially announced the signing of well-traveled right-hander Shelby Miller to a one-year contract as a free agent. Miller will receive a base salary of $1.5 million with incentives based on his performance as a reliever (not the starting pitcher role he filled early in his career).
Meanwhile, right-hander Chris Martin has reportedly agreed to a two-year, $17.5 million contract with the Boston Red Sox, cashing in handsomely on his strong performance after the Dodgers acquired him in a midseason trade from the Chicago Cubs.
The 36-year-old Martin came over in exchange for utility player Zach McKinstry at the end of July. The veteran reliever had posted a 4.31 ERA in 34 appearances with the Cubs, but was one of the Dodgers’ best relievers over the final two months of the season, allowing just 12 hits and one walk while striking out 34 in 24 2/3 innings. He didn’t allow a run in two innings during the Dodgers’ NLDS loss to the Padres.
Tommy Kahnle and Craig Kimbrel are also free agents from last season’s bullpen. The Dodgers are gambling on Miller to step into a role in next year’s bullpen despite having pitched just 19 2/3 innings in the major leagues since the 2019 season.
Miller, 32, was once one of the most successful young starting pitchers in the National League. After debuting with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012, Miller went 26-18 with a 3.33 ERA over three seasons before he was traded to the Atlanta Braves.
Miller never recaptured that early success. He bounced from the Braves to the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Texas Rangers, missing time following Tommy John surgery in 2017 and sitting out the 2020 season during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He spent much of 2021 and 2022 in the minor leagues, working his way back as a reliever. He posted a 2.87 ERA with 69 strikeouts in 53 1/3 innings as a Triple-A reliever in the Giants’ and New York Yankees’ systems last year, earning a September promotion to the Giants. He struck out 14 of 30 batters faced in seven innings over the final weeks of last season, sparking interest on the free-agent market.