Pittsburgh Pirates: What a Potential Wade Miley Contract Could Look Like

Cincinnati Reds v Chicago Cubs
Cincinnati Reds v Chicago Cubs / Quinn Harris/GettyImages
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Wade Miley is a prime free agent candidate for the Pittsburgh Pirates to pursue, but what would a contract for the southpaw look like?

The Pittsburgh Pirates recently stated that they’re still on the lookout for pitching free agents. There are still a handful of decent pitchers who could bolster the Pirate rotation, and a prime candidate for the team to pursue is Wade Miley. Miley is probably the most realistic top free agent starting pitcher available. So if the Pirates were to sign the lefty to a contract, what would it look like?

Miley had an injury laden 2022 season for the Chicago Cubs. He only tossed 37 innings, but at least on the positive side, he pitched well when he was healthy. Miley worked a 3.16 ERA, 3.95 FIP, and 1.22 WHIP. Miley had just a 17.6% strikeout rate, but a decent 8.8% walk rate and 0.73 HR/9. 

Although Miley was injured for a good portion of the 2022 season, he has a history of durability. From 2012 through 2021 (and minus the 2020 season), Miley pitched at least 157 innings and appeared in at least 28 games in eight of the nine seasons. He was also highly effective as a starting pitcher as recently as 2021.

In his single full season with the Cincinnati Reds, Miley had a 3.37 ERA, 3.97 FIP, and 1.33 WHIP. The southpaw’s 18.1% strikeout rate falls in with his career average of 18.4% while his 7.2% walk rate is above his career average. His .94 HR/9 was above average, especially considering he pitched in the notoriously hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark. Overall, it was the second-best season of his career as his 3.0 fWAR is only surpassed by his 2012 All-Star rookie season.

The Cubs paid Miley $10 million last year, which going into the year, seemed like a bargain. To examine what a potential Wade Miley contract would look like, it’s worth looking at what two former Pirate free agent signees have received. In the last two winters, the Pirates have signed two similar left-handers, that being Jose Quintana and Tyler Anderson. Quintana received a one-year, $2 million deal while Anderson inked a one-year, $2.5 million contract.

Granted, Miley has a more recent history of success than Quintana and a better track record than Anderson. But unlike either Quintana or Anderson, was injured for more than half of the season. He’s also older as 2023 will be his age-36 campaign. Quintana signed going into his age-33 season and Anderson was even younger as 2021 was his age-31 season. 

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The starting pitching market has been quite lucrative, but it would be a surprise if Miley makes more than $5-6 million. He’s coming off a season in which he didn’t even pitch 50 innings. He’s also older than 35. If the Pirates were to go after Miley, I’d pin a contract of one-year worth $5 million. That’s just over twice as much as Quintana last season. While he is older than Quintana, he has had more success more recently than Quintana did when the Pittsburgh Pirates signed him.