Option kicks in on Miller if he's claimed

February, 21, 2011
2/21/11
3:15
PM ET
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Lefthanded pitcher Andrew Miller is out of options, which means that if he spends any time with the Boston Red Sox this season and the club then elects to send him to Pawtucket, he must clear waivers. That would give the 29 other major-league teams a chance to claim him for the waiver price.

But to discourage other clubs from doing so, the Red Sox inserted some language in Miller’s contract that GM Theo Epstein said he has not used previously in such cases. The language, according to a baseball source, stipulates that if Miller is with the major league club this season, is placed on waivers for the purpose of sending him to the minors and claimed on waivers by another team, a $3 million club option held by the Red Sox for the 2012 season becomes vested and guaranteed.

Miller also has out clauses that kick in this summer that would require the Red Sox to grant him his release and allow him to become a free agent should he not be in the majors by a certain date. Out clauses are not unusual for veteran players, and in Miller’s case they are dated later in the summer, by which time the Red Sox should be able to make a full evaluation of him and how he fits into their future.

Miller signed a minor-league deal with the Red Sox, which means he is on a split contract for the 2011 season, which is to say he is to be paid at one rate in the minor leagues and another on the big-league level. The contract contains roster bonuses and a signing bonus and thus is more complicated than the usual split deal. If Miller were to spend the entire season in the big leagues with the Sox, for example, he would be paid at least as much as the $1.79 million he was paid by the Florida Marlins in 2010.

That is not a likely scenario. Miller is expected to start the season in Pawtucket, either in the starting rotation or in the bullpen, while he attempts to regain the form that led him to being the No. 1 draft choice of the Detroit Tigers in 2006. Still only 25, Miller attracted wide interest at the winter meetings once he was nontendered by the Red Sox, who had acquired him by trade from the Florida Marlins. The contract structure also affords some degree of certainty to Miller that the Red Sox are committed to the process.

The existence of the contract language was first reported by Alex Speier of WEEI.com. A baseball source furnished ESPNBoston with additional details.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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