Day two of the winter meetings got off to a slow start, but several deals came together incredibly quickly that sent baseball Twitter into a frenzy. While the Cubs were the talk of Nashville by signing Ben Zobrist and then immediately trading Starlin Castro, the Braves and Diamondbacks quickly shifted the spotlight.
Despite reportedly moving off Shelby Miller earlier this morning, Arizona ultimately pulled the trigger on a trade that netted them a controllable starting pitcher, and an intriguing relief prospect in Gabe Speier. By adding Miller, Arizona now has one of the best rotations in the NL West, and significantly increases their chances of making the playoffs in 2016.
However in doing so, the Diamondbacks traded away the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, Dansby Swanson, the No. 36 overall pick in the 2013 draft, Aaron Blair, and Ender Inciarte, an elite defensive outfielder with five years of control remaining. The immediate reaction has been overwhelmingly positive for the Braves, as they netted two top MLB prospects, in addition to Inicarte, and only had to part with Miller, and Speier, who's yet to progress beyond High-A.
From looks of it, Braves got the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, a near-ready MLB starter and solid MLB OF for one year of Jason Heyward.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 9, 2015
I think the Braves just rebuilt— Jeff Sullivan (@based_ball) December 9, 2015
From my friends @neifico: "ATL added $105 million in value in Miller trade. Likely the most lopsided asset exchange in recent history."— David Cameron (@DCameronFG) December 9, 2015
While the Diamondbacks felt they needed another above average starter to increase their chances of making the playoffs for 2016, there were seemingly easier and less expensive ways to accomplish that goal. As of now, Mike Leake, Scott Kazmir, Wei-Yin Chen, Yovani Gallardo, and Ian Kennedy, among others, are all still available on the open market.
None of those pitchers will come cheap, as the cost of starting pitchers has been incredibly high this offseason, but the Diamondbacks signed a TV deal worth $1.5 billion earlier this year, and have access to much more money than they've had in in the past.
While some of the aforementioned pitchers would have cost Arizona a draft pick, that's undoubtedly a better alternative to what they gave up to acquire Miller.
In addition to the group of FA pitchers, Blair is close to being MLB ready, and likely could have stepped into the Diamondbacks' rotation at some point in 2016; and according to FanGraphs, he rates very similarly to Miller.
Clearly Arizona thinks highly of Miller, but any one of the pitchers listed above would have represented an upgrade for the Diamondbacks, and would have allowed them to keep Swanson, Blair, and Inciarte. Arizona likely got better for next year, but Dave Cameron of FanGraphs thinks the Diamondbacks will regret this trade soon.
After thinking about it for a few minutes, Shelby Miller trade is Erik Bedard trade. Team gets good pitcher in trade they'll regret quickly.— David Cameron (@DCameronFG) December 9, 2015
On February 8th, 2008, the Orioles capitalized on Erik Bedard's value, an fWAR of 5.0 in 2007, and traded him to the Mariners for Adam Jones, Kam Mickolio, George Sherrill, and Chris Tillman. Unfortunately for the Mariners, Bedard was never as valuable as they hoped, and Seattle wound up missing out on valuable production from Jones, Tillman, and Sherrill.
As of now, it's hard to argue that this is a good trade for the Diamondbacks, but it's not impossible. Just three years ago, there was a shockingly similar reaction to another blockbuster trade.
Giving up Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, etc for 2 years of James Shields plus Wade Davis, who should be in bullpen, is stunning. Ouch #Royals— Steve Berthiaume (@BertDbacks) December 10, 2012
The tricky thing about prospects is that their value is built on potential. Right now, Swanson and Blair are undeniable talents that most teams wouldn't dream of giving up, but they could ultimately flame out and never reach their forecasted values. That being said, as of now, the Braves look like magicians who pulled off the trick of the year.
With the additions of Swanson, Blair, and Sean Newcomb just a few weeks ago in the trade for Andrelton Simmons, the Braves have dramatically upgraded an already strong farm system, and given their fans something to look forward to as they prepare for a potentially dreadful 2016 season.