Technically it hasn't been a full day since the Atlanta Braves traded Shelby Miller. But, I've at least had the time to let the deal process a little more, without the distraction of Tweetdeck exploding in front of my eyes. And after a few hours of sleep and a bit more rational thought... it still looks like Atlanta fleeced the Arizona Diamondbacks.
If you haven't taken a look at the reactions to this trade, you can find a handy list right here. I'll give you some of the highlights before jumping into my own thoughts:
Jeff Sullivan, Fangraphs:
Occasionally there are bad trades. This is among the worst of them.
Dave Schoenfield, ESPN:
Heck, Inciarte may be worth more than Miller by himself and is certainly proof that executives Dave Stewart and Tony La Russa are out of touch in the analytics game.
And then this collection of goodies from Ken Rosenthal with Fox Sports:
The early reviews are in, and they are not good for the Diamondbacks.
"Worst trade I've ever seen," one executive said of the D-backs' acquisition of right-hander Shelby Miller on Tuesday.
"Holy crap for Atlanta," said another.
"Grand slam for the Braves," said a third.
I asked one American League scout his thoughts on the trade, and he summed it up nicely in one word: "Stunning."
And it is. A day later, I'm looking back over this trade and laughing at the fact that I wrote a piece just over a week ago telling everyone to lower their expectations for a Shelby Miller return. Specifically, I laughed when I read this bit:
...it seems pretty clear that other teams aren't biting at the current price (for Shelby).
Now, it's certainly possible that when teams miss out on the Zack Greinke's and David Price's of the world they will get a bit more desperate and meet the current demands, but I would be extremely surprised if that were the case.
It's funny because Arizona, in fact, went after Greinke. For the bargain price of $34.42 million per year, they got him. Then they turned around and paid the Braves exactly what they were looking for in Shelby Miller. Who is not an ace, but who — along with Gabe Speier — netted the Braves the return of an ace. There were many baseball folks who saw Ender Inciarte, Dansby Swanson and Aaron Blair as the kind of package that might net a team Jose Fernandez.
Yeah, the Jose Fernandez who has posted a 2.40 ERA so far over his young career. Who has a 2.52 FIP to back that up and a 2.82 xFIP to back that up. The one who strikes out 10.46 batters per nine innings and walks just 2.65. The Jose Fernandez who is a legitimate ace.
While Shelby Miller is certainly a good pitcher, it is beyond clear that Jose Fernandez is better. To think that Atlanta just got a package that many think is good enough to land one of the game's most valuable young starting pitchers is just insane.
Let's break it down a bit more. For three more years of Shelby Miller (who's averaged 2.1 WAR per year the past three seasons), the Braves got:
- Five years of Ender Inciarte, who has averaged just over 3 WAR during his first two big league seasons.
- Dansby Swanson, the No. 1 pick of the 2015 MLB Draft who should be able to stick at shortstop and is considered a top 10-20 prospect in the game.
- Aaron Blair, the Diamondbacks' first pick during the 2013 MLB Draft, and a top 100 prospect who should be ready to pitch in the Majors at some point in 2016.
According to Baseball America, Swanson and Blair were Arizona's top two prospects. Swanson is clearly the centerpiece of the deal for Miller, but when you can argue that one of the players included — Inciarte — is already just as valuable as Shelby is, I think it's pretty easy to chalk this one up as a big win for Atlanta.
We are finally starting to see the "trade your arms for position players" strategy unfold, and when it's actually a "trade your good starter who's certainly not an ace, for one player who's already just as good, one pitcher who could turn out to be just as good in addition to a shortstop who's a potential franchise player" strategy...
Well, the future's starting to look just a little bit brighter for the Atlanta Braves of Cobb County. Let's keep Arizona on speed dial.
John Hart:"We have young players and the revenues that'll come with the new stadium. That gives us the ability to be what I call dangerous."— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) December 9, 2015