Dodgers: Brad Miller might homer his way onto the MLB roster

CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 28: Brad Miller #10 of the Milwaukee Brewers hits a double in the 9th inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on June 28, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 28: Brad Miller #10 of the Milwaukee Brewers hits a double in the 9th inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on June 28, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

As Brad Miller stood in the left-handed batter’s box of Suprise Stadium in Arizona, it was simply him, the pitcher and a baseball.

The count was 2-0. Miller, a 29-year-old journeyed second baseman had just 18 total at-bats in 2019’s spring training and for him, it was all he needed to prove he deserved a shot.

2-0, a pitch, a home run.

Like many of the league’s veterans, Miller hit free agency this past winter and was subjected to nothing but minor league offers. In what has been baseball’s financial crisis, Miller chose to sign with the Dodgers simply for an opportunity to make run at a big league roster that has done nothing but own the National League in each of the last two seasons and the NL West in all of the last six campaigns.

But, for Miller, there was an still is a barrier between him and his ability to get back to the major leagues: he is not on the roster and his deal, signed just a few months ago, could come to an end in just a few short days.

Miller signed a minor league contract that allows him to part ways with Los Angeles at the end of this week if he so chooses. Like Daniel Hudson last year, the opt-out is in place as an ultimatum of sorts. If Miller is playing well and he does not get onto the major league roster he can wave goodbye, leave and find a better opportunity for himself somewhere else.

With the threat of the wave and dip looming, major league teams are often left placing those players onto the major league roster. It happened last year with Daniel Hudson and the same in 2017 with Brandon Morrow. Performance plus opt-out equals roster spot.

But, as we step back under the lights of Surprise Stadium to watch Miller’s second home run of the spring crack loudly off his bat and exit the stadium, it was hard to help but wonder what Miller in a Dodger uniform could do. With currently rostered players struggling to find their own in spring, the look may not be so bad.

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In 22 at-bats this spring Miller has held up his end of the equation (performance plus opt-out equals roster spot). He’s smacked two home runs, has a .364 batting average and an OPS of 1.053.

He hasn’t been borderline good, he’s been emphatically fantastic.

And, under the warm glow of the spring Arizona sun, his success can’t help but feel like what is now a distant memory.

The year was 2016. Miller, a 26-year-old utility infielder at the time was coming off a decent season in Tampa Bay that saw him hit 11 home runs in 438 at-bats. But, in ’16 his totals, in just 110 more at-bats would yield him three times the number of home runs he hit just a year before.

Miller joined the 30-homer club.

That single season total was one more than he had hit in the first three seasons of his career combined and for Brad Miller, the ability to crush a baseball looked natural, not like a fluke.

But, as 2016’s winter gave way to spring, Miller would not see the same success he had in that magical season. But, this spring, it looks like it has returned.

Miller can play the infield. He can easily serve as a utilityman for the Dodgers and with Chris Taylor struggling to put things together in camp, Miller could be a nice alternative off the bench.

At 29-year-old he is not old at all and the Dodgers can certainly use another productive bat on the bench.

With his opt-out, the equation may be complete.

Miller could very well have played his way into Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers are not taking a risk if the guy is consistently proving himself and in Brad Miller, they may be getting baseball’s equivalent to fast-food. You are getting a mind-blowing meal but it will certainly get the job done in quelling your hunger. In Brad Miller, the Dodgers probably won’t get a superstar but he will certainly know his role and get the job done.

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