12:23pm: The Giants formally announced that Miller has been selected from Sacramento and Waites has been optioned there in his place.
12:21pm: The Giants are selecting the contract of veteran right-hander Shelby Miller from Triple-A Sacramento prior to Thursday’s game against the Rockies. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweeted earlier that Miller was in the clubhouse, and Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic now adds that Miller has been informed he’ll be active for today’s game (and not simply on the taxi squad). The Giants designated outfielder Lewis Brinson for assignment yesterday, so they already have an open spot on the 40-man. Slusser adds that righty Cole Waites looks to have been optioned to Sacramento to open a spot for Miller on the active roster.
San Francisco will be the seventh Major League team for Miller, once one of the game’s brightest young arms but now a journeyman who’s found himself closing games for the Giants’ top minor league affiliate in 2022. Still just 31 years old, Miller opened the year with the Yankees’ Triple-A club but opted out of that deal early in the season and signed with the Giants in June. He’s logged a combined 2.87 ERA between the two Triple-A clubs this season, punching out 31.2% of his opponents against a 9.5% walk rate. He’s also picked up a dozen saves (eight with the Giants organization) and five holds out of the bullpen this year.
A former first-round pick who was regarded as one of the sport’s premier pitching prospects, Miller debuted with the Cardinals as a 21-year-old in 2012 and spent the two subsequent seasons as a mainstay in the St. Louis rotation. The Cards parted with Miller in a trade that sent then-star outfielder Jason Heyward from Atlanta to St. Louis, and Miller made the All-Star team in his lone season as a Brave (despite an MLB-worst 17 losses, which were the result of a dismal team surrounding him).
Despite Miller’s sterling 3.02 ERA in his first season with the Braves, Atlanta couldn’t resist when the D-backs offered up Dansby Swanson, Ender Inciarte and then-top pitching prospect Aaron Blair in return for Miller — just six months after Swanson had been drafted with the No. 1 overall pick. It’s gone down as one of the most lopsided swaps in recent memory, as Swanson has blossomed from steady everyday shortstop into one of the NL’s top all-around players in 2022. Inciarte, meanwhile, had several seasons as a strong everyday center fielder in Atlanta.
Miller, meanwhile, struggled immediately with Arizona and wound up limping through a trio of injury-plagued seasons in Phoenix. He’s since pitched in the Majors with the Rangers (2019), Cubs (2021) and Pirates (2021), but Miller has just a 7.04 ERA in 195 2/3 frames since being traded by the Braves nearly seven years ago.
There’s little denying, however, that he’s been impressive in a bullpen role with the top affiliates for the Yankees and Giants in 2022. Whether that leads to an eventual early-30s renaissance for Miller remains to be seen, but this is the healthiest and most effective he’s been in years. And with his 32nd birthday not yet having taken place, there’s still plenty of time for the once-vaunted righty to be reborn as a quality big league reliever. Both Miller and the Giants surely hope that today’s promotion can be the first step toward just such an outcome. He’ll be a free agent at season’s end, and a strong couple weeks to close out the season could make him an interesting, low-cost target for clubs over the winter.
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