This is a trade that I will never forget as a Brave fan, let alone any baseball fan. Shelby Miller was coming off a career year where he had an ERA of 3.02 and an odd record of 6-17. The Braves were not good that year finishing 67-95 and obviously had to make something happen. The trade was the Braves trading away Shelby Miller, who was still a ripe 24 year old at the time and coming off of three good seasons with the Cardinals, and the Braves received outfielder Ender Inciante, a 24 year old outfielder at the time with three years of arbitration left, pitching prospect Aaron Blair, and last but not least the Diamondbacks NUMBER ONE OVERALL pick Dansby Swanson. On the surface it’s questionable, but even when you scrape away the surface, you still have many questions.
I understand what the Diamondbacks were trying to do. They needed to try and solidify their rotation as they had Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, Jean Segura, and a good Yasmani Thomas. They had Zack Greinke, Zach Godley, a young Patrick Corbin, a young Robby Ray and were looking to add another young and talented arm to the rotation. You could see his thought process. Young rotation, up and coming starting pitching, and it seemed the only thing they SEEMED to be missing after adding Shelby Miller, would be a couple extra bats and a few relief arms.
The Braves side of thinking was brilliant. Find a GM willing to take a young starter off their hands after a good season and exchange it for a few prospects. Except, those few prospects were the number one overall pick, one more time, the NUMBER ONE OVERALL PICK in the 2015 draft, a young outfielder with arbitration years that they didn’t need because of A.J. Pollock patrolling centerfield, and a young starting pitcher who had three good seasons in the minors who was blocked by the starters they had accumulated.
If you remember, current Angels shortstop, Andrelton Simmons, was the Braves shortstop for the first four years of his career, and in the Braves’ eyes, seemed to already been on a decline in production after a great rookie campaign. With the thought of keeping a shortstop, who the Braves thought were overpriced, they dealt him to the Angels for current starter in their rotation Sean Newcomb, pitcher Chris Ellis, and veteran shortstop Erick Aybar. Obviously, the Braves had an idea that Swanson going to move through the system fast, and let Aybar hold shortstop down until Swanson was ready. Swanson was brought up later in the 2016 season and performed better than most expected and was heralded the shortstop of the future for the Braves, as you may know.
Shelby Miller went on to have one of the worst seasons for a starting pitcher as he ended up finishing with an ERA of 6.15 and a record of 3-12. Not to mention that was through 101 innings and held a 70/42 strikeout to walk ratio. After his scary 2016 season, entering the 2017 season, Miller also ended up having Tommy John surgery. Unfortunately Millers career has taken a turn for the worst as this year in 2018, he went 0-4 through four starts with an ERA of 11.40. Sad. As he was one of the brightest young pitchers coming up with the St. Louis Cardinals.
As you may know Ender Inciarte has gone on to win two Gold Gloves as well as adding an All-Star appearance to his resume while hitting at the top of the Braves lineup for the most part. Aaron Blair never panned out as the once promising starter he was in the minors as he holds a career ERA of 7.89 through 16 career starts. Dansby Swanson has held his own as the starter for the Braves the past two seasons but hasn’t shown his number overall potential with the bat. in 2017 he had a slash line of .232/.312/.324 through 144 games. So far this year, Dansby has a slash of .244/.304/.408 with 14 home runs and 9 stolen bases. Both improvements upon his dismal 2017 season at the plate, but at least it’s improvement. Let’s just hope he trends up after showing a bit of improvement from 2017.
It’s always fun to be reminded of some stupid shit GM’s do to think they’re getting a deal but it totally backfires in their face. This is a great example of that along with the Rays trade of David Price to the Tigers for Willy Adames, who still has the chance to be great, and Drew Smyly. There have been more pretty shitty trades in the history of baseball, but the trade of Shelby Miller to the Diamondbacks will never be forgotton.