Colorado Rockies: Finding under-the-radar free agent hitters
By Tyler Paddor
Brad Miller, UTIL, 32 years old on Opening Day
Starting off with some thump, Miller has rediscovered himself after a performance decline in 2017 and 2018. Now, since 2019, Miller has been worth 3.0 fWAR over 718 plate appearances.
The nine-year veteran primarily achieved this by reducing his chase rate and becoming a more selective hitter, even if his strikeout rate doesn’t reflect that.
From 2015 to 2018, Miller chased 28.9%, 29.2%, 25.8%, and 31.2% of pitches, respectively. Starting in 2019, Miller has chased 24.6%, 23.7%, and 24.2% of pitches, respectively. That’s a significant difference that’s allowed Miller’s always plus power to show up more.
Speaking of his power, Miller’s average exit velocity ranked in the 91st percentile in baseball. That elite power led him to 20 home runs in roughly three-quarters of a full season worth of playing time. The raw power suggests a 30 home run barrage is possible, if not likely.
Where Miller really sells himself is with his patience and walk rate. Since the start of 2020 (548 PAs), the former Philly utility man has walked 12.8% of the time which would have paced all Rockies regulars.
To complete his profile, Miller still has speed at 32 and will likely be an average runner for another year or two. This has enabled his defensive range to stay intact.
Could Brad Miller fit with the Colorado Rockies?
The former second-round pick played RF, LF, 3B, 2B, and 1B this year, with most of his time spent at 1B. His time at 2B was promising and the Rockies could sign Miller with plans to play him in tandem with Brendan Rodgers up the middle.
Bill Schmidt has stated they plan to use Rodgers at 2B but, with a lack of quality SS options on the market, it makes sense to add at 2B and let Rodgers man SS for a year or two. Miller can also take innings at other positions when needed.
Coming off a strong year, Miller will command a reasonable MLB contract with multiple seasons and a fair amount of cash.
A two-year deal with a mutual option for a third season could be ideal for both sides. A mutual option buyout increases the guaranteed annual value of the contract while spreading the money out.
Annual value in the $10-12 million range seems about right for what teams can expect from Miller going forward.