Andrew Miller had as good a year as any closer in baseball last season and lost his job.
Which the Yankees lefthander, who will be replaced in the role this season by the newly acquired Aroldis Chapman, is fine with.
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“I came to New York to be a winner,” Miller said Tuesday on the “Michael Kay Show” on ESPN Radio. “Hopefully that’s how I’m remembered as a Yankee at the end of the day.”
The 30-year-old Miller, after signing a four-year, $36-million deal with the Yankees last offseason, closed for the first time in his career in 2015 and excelled. Miller went 36-for-38 in save chances, posting a 2.04 ERA. He had a 0.859 WHIP and struck out 100 in 61 2⁄3 innings.
“I pitched as well as I possible could,” Miller said. “I felt I did my job.”
But Miller said he’s OK embracing a new one this season, whether it’s entering games in the seventh inning or in the eighth. The plan is for Dellin Betances, who struck out 131 batters over 84 innings and posted a 1.50 ERA as Miller’s setup men, to pitch the other inning, potentially giving the Yankees the best seventh-eighth-ninth inning combination in baseball.
“Some of the stats that we accomplished last year were pretty impressive and I’m guessing the goal in all of this is to extend it even further,” Miller said.
A starter at the beginning of his career before being switched to the bullpen, Miller said “I’ve had pretty much every role” as a reliever and isn’t taking losing the closer job personally.
“At this point in my career I’m not building any sort of a resume on saves,” he said. “I’m not chasing any numbers or records. I’ve seen teams win and I’ve seen how much fun that is. That will be the most rewarding thing if we win games and we go out and accomplish our goals, then that will be the best memories we can make.”
As for the trade rumors that accompanied his name this offseason — the Yankees were asked about Miller but weren’t shopping him, making clear it would take a dramatic haul in return to even consider a deal — the veteran said it never bothered him.
“Everything I’ve heard from the Yankees, and they seemed to have backed it up, it would have to be pretty extreme for them to move me,” Miller said. “And I don’t blame them. If they feel they can make the team better, that’s their prerogative. Nothing I can do about it to stop it.”