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Cardinals sign Andrew Miller to two-year, $25 million contract

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It was reported last night that the Cardinals and Andrew Miller were closing in on a deal. That deal appears now to have been struck: Ken Rosenthal reports that St. Louis has signed him to a two-year, $25 million deal with a vesting option for a third season at $12 million with a $2.5 million buyout. The option will vest if he pitches a total of 110 games over the next two seasons. He’ll also receive a full no-trade clause.

Miller, 33, was limited to 34 innings out of the bullpen last season due to hamstring and knee injuries, and those injuries contributed to him having his worst season since becoming a full-time reliever. He finished the year with a 4.24 ERA and a 45/16 K/BB ratio in 34 innings. When healthy, however, he has been one of the top relievers in all of baseball. Between 2014 and 2017 he posted a 1.72 ERA while striking out 14.5 batters per nine innings and walking 2.3 batters per nine innings.

Whether the Cardinals will make him their closer or, rather, treat him like a high-leverage fireman as the Indians and Yankees did, is up in the air. Either way, though, the Cardinals have a potentially devastating new weapon in their bullpen.

Phillies-Mets could get contentious tonight

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As the Mets were wrapping up a 9-0 shellacking of the Phillies on Tuesday night, reliever Jacob Rhame threw a pitch up and in to first baseman Rhys Hoskins with two outs in the ninth inning. The pitch sailed behind Hoskins’ back. The slugger wasn’t happy about the scare, understandably. Players began to trickle out of their respective dugouts, but a fracas was avoided.

Hoskins was skeptical that Rhame simply missed his spot. Per MLB.com’s Thomas Harrigan, Hoskins said, “He didn’t miss up and in the rest of the inning, so I’ll let you decide. I would assume teams are pitching me in because that’s where they think they can get me out, and that’s fine. That’s part of the game. Again, I think most guys are capable of pitching inside and not missing that bad.”

Teammate Bryce Harper said, “I don’t get it. I understand that two of their guys got hit yesterday. But, I mean, if it’s baseball and you’re going to drill somebody, at least hit him in the [butt]. Not in the head. You throw 98, it’s scary now. You could kill somebody. Lose your eyesight. That’s bigger than the game.”

Indeed, two Mets were hit by pitches on Monday night. José Álvarez hit Jeff McNeil in the seventh inning, which advanced a base runner. In the very next at-bat, Juan Nicasio hit Pete Alonso with a first-pitch fastball. It was obvious neither was intentional as the Phillies were only down two runs and hitting both batters advanced base runners and led to runs scoring. It is less obvious that Rhame’s pitch to Hoskins was unintentional, but he showed empathy in his post-game comments. Rhame said, “When you accidentally sail one, it’s probably pretty scary. I’d get [angry], too.”

Will Wednesday night’s series finale be contentious? Despite being “fairly upset,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said, “We do not retaliate, and we do not throw at anybody intentionally,” Jake Seiner of the Associated Press reports.

Mets manager Mickey Calloway didn’t give as straight an answer. Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, Calloway said, “I think at this point, you just go out there and beat people, and win. … For now, I don’t feel like anything has been intentional at us that has warranted anything from our side.” If that changes, however, Calloway said, “They’re going to have each other’s backs.”

Hopefully, neither side decides to take justice into their own hands. But, welcome to the NL East in 2019. The Mets lead the Phillies by one game, and the Braves and Nationals by 1.5 games. It’s going to be a knock-down, drag-out division fight all year long.