CLEVELAND (CBSNewYork/AP) — Serious about winning it all this season, the Cleveland Indians acquired left-handed reliever Andrew Miller from the New York Yankees on Sunday in exchange for four players.
The stunning trade came less than 12 hours after the Indians agreed with Milwaukee on a deal to send Brewers All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy to Cleveland. That swap is still pending.
However, the deal with the Yankees is official as the Indians sent four minor leaguers, including highly touted outfielder Clint Frazier, to New York in exchange for the 31-year-old Miller, one of baseball’s best setup men. 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.”
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.
New York’s decision to move Miller comes after the team traded closer Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs.
Possessing a nearly unhittable slider, the 31-year-old Miller is 6-1 with a 1.39 ERA. He is signed through the 2018 season at $9 million per year. Miller is averaging 15.3 strikeouts per nine innings. He 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. Indians manager Terry 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.
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