It would appear as though the Brewers and Wade Miley are making progress on a reunion, as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal predicts that a deal between the two sides will “materialize in the coming days.” Miley pitched for Milwaukee during the 2018 season and then returned to the Brew City last season on a one-year, $4.5MM deal with a $10MM mutual option for 2024. Like with virtually all mutual options, it wasn’t exercised, as Miley declined his end of the option and took a $1MM buyout to re-enter free agency.
Some elbow soreness and a lat strain limited Miley to 120 1/3 innings last season, but that was still a vast improvement over his injury-riddled 2022 campaign as a member of the Cubs roster. Miley’s comeback year included a very solid 3.14 ERA over his 120 1/3 frames, though advanced metrics (like a 5.04 SIERA) were much less impressed by the veteran’s performance. Miley benefited from a .234 BABIP and an 81.6% strand rate, and his 16.1% strikeout rate ranked in only the eighth percentile of all pitchers.
These numbers notwithstanding, secondary metrics have often been down on Miley over the course of his 13-year career, as the left-hander has never been much of a strikeout pitcher and he has relied on grounders (49% career groundball rate) and soft contact to achieve success. Miley’s efforts at limiting hard contact have been particularly successful over the last few years, and his 31.3% hard-hit ball rate was one of the better marks in baseball in 2023.
This skillset has led to some pretty varied results over Miley’s long career, as the BABIP gods haven’t always been on his side. Nonetheless, the Brewers still seem interested in what Miley can bring to the table as he enters his age-37 season, and Rosenthal notes that the team also values his off-the-field contributions as a clubhouse leader. It is probably safe to assume that Miley will sign another relatively inexpensive one-year contract, perhaps with another option of some sort covering the 2025 season. That is surely appealing to a Brewers team with a limited budget, and a need for some extra depth in the rotation.
Should Miley return, he’ll join Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta, Adrian Houser, and (another re-signed pitcher in) Colin Rea as the projected starting five, with depth options that include Janson Junk, top prospect Robert Gasser, and Aaron Ashby returning from an injury-marred 2023 season. There is plenty of fluidity within this group, however, as rumors persist that Milwaukee could trade Burnes prior to his final year of team control.