The Braves have reportedly sent Shelby Miller to the Diamondbacks for 25-year-old outfielder Ender Inciarte, 23-year-old right-hander Aaron Blair, and last year’s number one overall pick, 21-year-old shortstop Dansby Swanson. The Diamondbacks get a good pitcher under control for three years, and the Braves continue their rebuilding process.
The return seems very strong for the Braves. Inciarte can play a capable center field, where his league average (ish) bat will play a lot better. He’ll step in immediately.
Swanson hit the ground running in A-ball, with a .193 ISO and as many strikeouts as walks. Before taking a job with the Braves, Kiley McDaniel put the shortstop in his top 25 prospects in the mid-season update, and there’s a sense that the Vanderbilt product could advance quickly. McDaniel said he was a “standout defensive shortstop” with an “advanced bat” before the draft.
McDaniel gave Blair a 55 grade before the season and said that “though the righty isn’t as flashy as the prospects ahead of him, there’s a sense among some that he might be the D-Backs’ best prospect right now. He may have the chance to show that this year, as a strong performance could put him in the majors earlier than expected.” Blair doesn’t have a lot of strikeouts in his game, but grounders and weak contact may make him a serviceable mid-rotation starter.
All in all, that’s a good return for three arbitration years of a veteran mid-rotation starter. Shelby Miller may have pitched like an ace last year, and the Braves may have followed the road map to fixing him to the tee. Throwing more high fastballs and cutters and ditching the change has led to his return to grace, but 2014’s poor season provides a taste of sobriety and a reason for a projection that looks more like an average pitcher.
Still, the Diamondbacks are all in after signing Zack Greinke to a monster deal. Now with Miller in the fold, they have a strong rotation, featuring Greinke, Miller, Patrick Corbin, and a host of options at the back end. They said all along they didn’t want a long rebuild process, and they put their prospects to use quickly, and now they’ve made a contender out of their team. And for the Braves, at least the guys they got could move quickly, and the wait to see how they did might not take that long either.
With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.