Andrew Miller struck out three Orioles batters in a five-out save on Monday night.
Andrew Miller struck out three Orioles batters in a five-out save on Monday night. (Rob Carr / Getty Images)

The debate was going to rage on, regardless, this year.

Monday's game against the New York Yankees, a 6-5 loss, just adds a little intensity to those who have been railing for months about the Orioles' decision not to try hard to re-sign lefty reliever Andrew Miller.


The truth is the Orioles never pursued him. One "touch-base" conversation at the general manager meetings was the extent of the discussions. The Orioles never had any intention of re-signing a guy that helped pitch them into the playoffs and then dominated in the postseason, allowing just one hit and one walk in 7 1/3 scoreless innings.


Because they knew the 29-year-old Miller had hit the baseball lottery – that he would land the largest contract for a nonclosing reliever in history. And he did, with a four-year, $36 million deal from the Yankees.

Perhaps that distinction will be erased as his Yankees career progresses, because one week into the season Miller has beaten out Dellin Betances for the closer's role. It's possible Miller is the Yankees' closer through 2018 – and suddenly $36 million for four years isn't that unreasonable.

But he wasn't going to be the closer in Baltimore, not with his buddy Zach Britton seizing the role last May (before Miller was dealt to the Orioles by the Boston Red Sox in July) and being a relatively cheap alternative.

In fact, even if the Orioles had offered Miller the same contract, he probably wouldn't have taken it. Although he said repeatedly he was not looking specifically at being a closer, that's every reliever's dream. And Britton was more established in the role than Betances, who had set-up (and done well in the role) behind David Robertson in New York.

There's also the truism that relief pitching is the most volatile commodity in baseball – and there are very few relievers who excel for four straight years (or three, or two).

So, given all that, it made sense to let Miller walk and use that money for other things, such as the Orioles' impending arbitration raises.

Yet, looking through the prism of Monday, losing Miller definitely appears to be a harsh blow. He earned a five-out save against his old team. And the Orioles bullpen cost them Monday's game, as Tommy Hunter allowed a seventh-inning grand slam to Stephen Drew.

The Orioles bullpen, an undisputed strength in 2014, has allowed runs in all seven of the club's games this year.

It would be so much better with Miller. There is no question.

The question is whether the Orioles should have thrown such a huge contract at him. That answer can't come definitively after one performance in April – we'll have to wait on that one for four years. Or, at the very least, until this October.

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