NEW YORK (WFAN) — Indians general manager Mike Chernoff knew acquiring Andrew Miller wasn’t cheap, but he quietly hoped the relief pitcher would somehow exceed the already-lofty expectations the team had for him, making the loss of top prospects a bit more palatable.
That best-case scenario has come to fruition for the first-year GM.
After being traded by the Yankees, Miller was not only superb in the regular season, he has been unbelievable in the playoffs for the World Series-bound Indians. In six postseason appearances, Miller has pitched 11 2/3 innings, allowing no runs and five hits while striking out 21 and walking two. He was also named ALCS MVP.
In an interview with WFAN’s Mike Francesa on Thursday, Chernoff recounted the trade for the 6-foot-7 left-hander.
“We’re a small-market team, so we’re not often on the buy side, and we’re certainly not often on the side where we’re giving up a ton of prospect value to get major-league players. But we felt like this was a year where we needed to take advantage of an opportunity,” said Chernoff, the son of longtime WFAN program director Mark Chernoff. “Given where our division was and how our team was playing, we felt it was the right time to make a deal like that.
“There was a huge amount of competition for Miller. I mean, he was the best reliever on the market. And we paid what we think is a steep price — those guys are going to be really good. We were hopeful at the time that we’d be able to get additional value out of Andrew by leveraging him in the postseason. I’m not sure we knew quite the extent to which we would leverage him. It’s been pretty special to watch.”
The Indians gave up outfield prospect Clint Frazier, minor league left-hander Justus Sheffield and minor league right-handers Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen in the trade for Miller.
Chernoff said he had a good feeling about the team in spring training, but he truly began to believe they had World Series potential when they won 14 straight in late June.
“I think in spring training we saw a lot of signs of the team coming together,” he said. “A guy like Mike Napoli, who came in on a one-year free agent deal, just brought this hardworking, competitive culture to the team. So we saw some signs of it.
“Really late June was probably the moment when it clicked. We had a 14-game winning streak. We ended up going the whole year without ever losing more than three in a row. … And it ended up being a really balanced team. We didn’t rely on any one guy in our lineup. Our starters, one through five, were great, and our bullpen was exceptional. So this was a team that really was clicking on all cylinders in every facet of the game.”
The Indians will open the World Series at home Tuesday against the winner of the NLCS between the Cubs or Dodgers.
To listen to the full interview, click on the audio player above.