“The Yankees want to win,” Miller said on Monday. “What they say is what they mean. The people that make the decisions, all they know is winning. That’s a big reason I signed there.
“That’s their plan until the absolute last minute.”
That last statement should be of interest to Chicago Cubs fans who are waiting on their front office to pull the trigger on a deal for at least one reliever, if not several. The team has a glaring need for a lefty, and Miller fits the bill considering his 5-1 record and 1.37 ERA this season. The rumor mill has been churning, with Miller’s name in it since soon after the season started.
“I don’t know where it came from, but it’s not going away,” Miller said with a half-smile. “I signed with the Yankees to play for the Yankees. Winning a World Series there would be as good as it gets. That’s the goal until further notice.”
Winning in Chicago wouldn’t be bad, either, and if the Cubs acquired Miller he would be rejoining former teammates David Ross and Jon Lester. The trio won a World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2013.
“He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever played with,” Miller said of Lester. “I have a World Series ring because of him. … I understand why the question is being asked, but the goal is to play well in New York.”
Miller isn’t sweating the trade rumors too much because he’s been through this before. He'd have to first be moved off a team that rarely trades its veterans, and even then he doesn’t know where he would end up.
“I went through the whole trade rumor thing a couple years ago,” Miller said. “I was going to 10 teams and I ended up going to a team no one mentioned, so I get how it works. People throw things out there and some things stick. Everybody thinks they have things figured out.”
Miller was traded from Boston to Baltimore in 2014 before signing a four-year, $36 million deal with the Yankees. Whichever team acquires him will owe him half that contract over the next two seasons -- if he’s traded at all. He says Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has kept him informed -- sort of.
“Things pop up and you get some reassurance, but not really,” Miller said.
Of course, Miller isn’t the only pitcher who could help the Cubs. First, reliever Joe Nathan is going to get a chance with the big league team; he continues his rehab at Double-A Tennessee. Reports are promising as he’s yet to issue a walk in almost six innings of work, though he’s given up two solo home runs. Most important, he’s healthy and eligible to come off the disabled list in a week.
There are other All-Star relievers who could be moved, such as Tampa Bay Rays closer Alex Colome, who was sitting just a few feet away from Miller. He made it to the majors while Joe Maddon was still managing the Rays.
“I love Joe Maddon,” he said. “My first manager. I don’t know what they want to do. When they tell me to pitch, I pitch.”
Colome has 19 saves and a 1.69 ERA, and though the Cubs have a righty closer they can never have enough in the bullpen right now. There are many other names soon to hit the market. Righty or lefty, the Cubs need effective arms. Miller remains the prize if the Yankees sell. He was amicable in discussing the Cubs on Monday, but at one point he simply ran out of answers.
“Other than that, I don’t know what you want,” he said, putting his hands in the air.