Nearly 10 years have passed since the Texas Rangers could have had right-hander Shelby Miller, a star prep pitcher from Brownwood High School, in their organization.
Better late than never?
The Rangers signed Miller on Wednesday to a one-year deal worth $2 million that could increase another $3 million should he meet the incentives in the contract.
Miller comes at a bargain basement price because he has pitched in only nine games the past two seasons because of injuries. The Rangers, though, said that Miller will fully ready when pitchers and catchers report to spring training Feb. 13.
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He is expected to be in the starting rotation, which, barring a trade, has five members.
“We see this as a chance to add a relatively young power pitcher to the staff,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “Healthy now after rehabbing last year, we think Shelby has more in the tank and are excited to see him work with our staff this year.”
Miller would join left-handers Mike Minor and Drew Smyly and right-handers Lance Lynn and Edinson Volquez in the Rangers’ rotation. However, multiple teams remain interested in acquiring Minor, who projects as the Rangers’ Opening Day starter.
If no starter is moved, Miller would rejoining former teammates Lynn (St. Louis) and Minor (Atlanta).
Miller underwent Tommy John surgery May 10, 2017, and allowed 21 runs (19 earned) in 16 innings last season before twice hitting the Arizona Diamondbacks’ disabled list. Arizona non-tendered him in November.
Miller was selected 19th overall in the 2009 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, 10 picks after the Rangers selected Matt Purke. The Rangers and Purke were unable to agree to a deal, though they had one before the draft that was nixed by MLB as the Rangers waded through bankruptcy.
Purke ended up at TCU, and Miller made his MLB debut in 2012 and made 62 starts the next two seasons for St. Louis before being sent to the Atlanta Braves after the 2014 season.
His only season with the Braves was a memorable one. Miller was a 2015 All-Star who finished with a 3.02 ERA in 33 starts, but he also lead MLB with 17 losses. But he caught the attention of the Diamondbacks, who acquired him for, among others, first overall pick Dansby Swanson in a bid for the postseason.
It failed in part because Miller was not effective over 20 starts, pitching to a 6.20 ERA. He had a 4.09 ERA in four starts in 2017 before the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow tore.