The recent firing of Seattle Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik will undoubtedly bring change to Major League Baseball in the Pacific Northwest. But how much change? Will there be a huge front office purge? A roster shake-down with veterans shipped out of town for prospects? Or will front office and/or player personnel changes be incremental?
We won't have any idea of course until we know who the new GM is, but this gives us a good excuse to talk about the enigmatic Brad Miller, who is no longer a prospect but is still fairly young at 25. Will the Mariners hold on to Miller, or will he be placed on the trade block?
Miller has been an intriguing player since his days at Clemson. A second round pick in 2011, he clobbered minor league pitching and reached the majors in just over two years, hitting .334/.409/.516 in his minor league tenure including a .356/.469/.596 run through Triple-A. As you'll recall he made the majors in 2013 and held his own, hitting .265/.318/.418, 106 wRC+, and running up a fine 1.8 fWAR in 76 games that summer.
Then he stalled out. He hit just .221/.288/.365, wRC+87 in 2014, though his defense was good enough to keep his fWAR value in positive territory at 1.5. 2015 has been better, .243/.321/.387 with wRC+100 and 1.8 fWAR through 118 games. Not excellent by any means, but an adequate bat with defense that WAR likes although he's been playing some outfield lately.
From what I have observed, Mariners fandom seems to have something of a love/hate relationship with Miller; some people love him, some people hate him, though the Seattleites among you will have a better feel for his standing with fandom than I do from an outsider's perspective. From my non-Seattle point of view, I see a player making some steady improvements, boosting his walk rate and OBP slightly while maintaining his isolated power, making positive speed contributions, and playing shortstop defense that the advanced metrics seem to like even if his error rates are higher than average.
Bottom line is that Brad Miller still strikes me as a player with a broad range of skills just entering his prime who could still turn out excellently. If I were running the Mariners, I'd want to keep him. If I were running another team, I would try to acquire him. We'll have to see how the new front office values him.
What do you guys think? What should the new Mariners leadership, whoever that turns out to be, do with Miller?