So if you were waiting on Shelby Miller to get traded during Winter Meetings? Congratulations! It finally happened. Shelby is going to the Diamondbacks in exchange for OF Ender Inciarte, pitching prospect Aaron Blair, and SS prospect Dansby Swanson.
If you've heard anything from the pundits so far on the trade, it's pretty universal that we fleeced the Diamondbacks. Which I find hilarious because two of these pieces are prospects we have no idea about yet. However, never let it be said that in today's hot take society we can't immediately approve it as trade of the decade or crap all over it right after it happens. Because that makes sense. (Not really)
I have no idea if this is a great trade because I'm not dumb enough to tell you anything about how prospects will perform at the MLB level. I'm sure there were tons of Bethancourt lovers out there, but I was never one. Now look what's happening with that kid. We're trying to better deal him out of town so we don't get scooped on the 40 man rosters in the Rule 5 draft. That's the nature of prospects. What looked like a franchise building option 4 years ago is this year's horse on the way to the glue factory.
So what part DO we know? Ender Inciarte is a 25 year old OF from Venezuela, and he's a utility outfielder who can play all three positions. Is he a great hitter? Maybe. He's a good hitter from what I've been able to gather. He doesn't have a ton of power, but he can hit for average (.292), and he's fast, averaging about 20 SBs a year so far. His OPS is rather meh at .716, but for the guy we want as a potential top of the order guy, he can fill that spot well. Am I over the moon about the move from this regard? Not really. Now the WAR guys will flip out about his defense, but I've made my statement on that over and over again. In today's baseball I need to know you're an offensive answer in the outfield first. The defensive side to me is gravy unless he's a full time CF. Then it's a big plus. And I'm thinking Ender will be the CF answer on this team (hopefully).
What else did we get? How about 23 year old righty starter Aaron Blair? A nice prospect from the Arizona AAA squad who will probably see MLB action in 2016. He had a 2.92 ERA between AA and AAA last season. Per the scouting report from the Diamondbacks, Blair is a big strong guy with a fastball in the low to mid 90s, and a sinking action on the ball. Blair has a lot of strikeout possibility due to his size and velocity, plus if he can continue to get better action on the ball he'll really get some guys to roll over for double plays and ground outs.
Also the Braves got Dansby Swanson, the overall #1 pick from 2015. This is the part that has the pundits freaking out about how lopsided the trade could be. It's so very rare that you see a team part with a #1 overall pick in the draft, and unlike football these pan out very well at a very high rate. Swanson is a 21 year old out of Vanderbilt who plays SS and slugged .482 in A ball with limited plate appearances. The excitement is that prior #1 over draft picks have been guys like Carlos Correa, Gerritt Cole, Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, and David Price. If Swanson can pan out like those guys? You're looking a franchise changing player. Which is why it's so odd to me that the Diamondbacks let him go. I'm wondering if they know something we don't know, or if they just needed pitching so badly they were willing to quite literally bet the farm on it.
So yes, on paper with the upside potential the trade looks great. However, we're still probably 4 years away from knowing if this was a great idea. Don't let anybody fool you into thinking otherwise. But if you believe the hype, this is a great step in the right direction for the Braves rebuild.