The Braves maintained they would not trade Shelby Miller unless they were blown away with a great trade proposal. Arizona gave it to them Tuesday in Nashville.
Atlanta traded Miller and minor league relief prospect Gabe Speier to the Diamondbacks for outfielder Ender Inciarte and two prospects: shortstop Dansby Swanson and pitcher Aaron Blair.
The shock of this trade is not that Atlanta dealt Miller, but that the Diamondbacks gave up the top pick in the draft from just five months ago. Swanson was taken with the first overall selection by Arizona out of Vanderbilt. He immiedately becomes Atlanta's top prospect.
Miller was acquired last year from St. Louis, along with pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins, for outfielder Jason Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden. Miller was Atlanta's best starting pitcher in 2015, despite his 6-17 record. Miller had a 3.02 ERA and 21 quality starts in his 33 appearances. He allowed 183 hits in 205.1 innings, with 73 walks and 171 strikeouts.
With Miller gone, here are the candidates for Atlanta's rotation: Julio Teheran, Bud Norris, Matt Wisler, Mike Foltynewicz, Manny Banuelos and Williams Perez. The Braves may look for another cheap starting pitching option on the free agent market to provide more depth for the rotation.
Inciarte can play all three outfield positions but may settle in center field. He hit .303 last season (9th best in the National League) with six home runs, 45 RBI, 27 doubles, 21 stolen bases and a .338 on base percentage. Inciarte, a left-handed hitter, did much better against right-handed pitchers last season, batting .332 while hitting just .227 against southpaws. Inciarte was very consistent throughout 2015, with his .273 mark in May registering as his worst monthly batting average. Inciarte was mainly Arizona's leadoff man, with 101 games as the number one hitter out of 116 starts. He hit second in his other 15 starts. Inciarte, who turned 25 at the end of October, is under control for five more seasons.
With Hector Olivera slated for left field and Nick Markakis (barring a trade) scheduled for right field, Inciarte will likely be the new starting center fielder. This pushes Michael Bourn to the bench. It also allows the Braves to give young Mallex Smith another full season in Triple-A Gwinnett to evaluate his future.
Swanson will turn 22 in two months, on February 11. He's a right-handed hitter that went to Marietta High Schoolm just north of Atlanta. When the Braves open Sun Trust Park in 2017, Swanson could be playing in his backyard. After the Diamondbacks drafted Swanson, he played at Low-A Hillsboro and batted .289 with one home run, 11 RBI and a .394 on base percentage. Swanson was rated as the 10th best prospect in baseball by MLB.com. Chances are Swanson could start 2016 in Double-A Mississippi and be ready for Atlanta at the end of next season or to start the 2017 season.
Blair was Arizona's supplemental first round pick (36th overall) in the 2013 draft out of Marshall University. He was ranked as the 61st best prospect in baseball by MLB.com. Blair is 6-5 and weighs 230 pounds. He split the 2015 season between Arizona's Double-A and Triple-A affliates. Overall, Blair was 13-5 with a 2.92 ERA, with 137 hits allowed in 160.1 innings, 50 walks and 120 strikeouts. Blair has a fastball in the 91-95 mph range, with a good curve and changeup. After his 12 starts in AAA Reno, Blair may be very close to being ready for the big leagues.
Atlanta also sent Gabe Speier in the deal to the Diamondbacks. He was just acquired from the Tigers in the Cameron Maybin trade a few weeks ago.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at email@example.com.