My, oh my….the Hot Stove is on fire!
In the matter of approximately an hour’s time, not only have the Chicago Cubs signed utility-man Ben Zobrist to a four-year deal, but the team also traded Starlin Castro to the New York Yankees. Just when you think that things couldn’t get any hotter, news breaks that the Arizona Diamondbacks have acquired Shelby Miller for what essentially turned out to be a “king’s ransom”.
— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) December 9, 2015
Arizona’s acquisition of Shelby Miller is stunning, considering that the team refused (numerous times) to part with Atlanta’s primary target- outfielder A.J. Pollock. Instead of dealing Pollock, the D-Backs parted with outfielder Ender Inciarte, pitching-prospect Aaron Blair, and 2015 1st overall draft pick Dansby Swanson. For a team that refused to part with one specific player, that is quite a haul to give up. As far as what they are acquiring, the Diamondbacks are getting a stud in Miller. He’s a rock-solid, top-of-the-rotation starter, with the potential to be a future ace of the staff. In his three seasons as a full-time starter, Miller has recorded a 32-35 record with a 3.22 ERA. He’s averaged 155 strikeouts per season and 67 walks per year. In his debut campaign in 2013, Miller finished third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting, behind Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig.
As for what the team is parting with, it’s an awful lot. For starters, they parted with their first overall pick in the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft Dansby Swanson. In his two full seasons at shortstop for the Vanderbilt Commodores, Swanson owned a .333 average with 18 home runs and 98 RBI. He was apart of both Commodore teams that reached the College World Series, including the 2014 team that won the CWS. For all intents and purposes, this kid has all of the tools to be a superstar. Next up on Atlanta’s docket is Ender Inciarte. Inciarte was slated as Arizona’s everyday right fielder. Following his signing in 2008, Inciarte worked his way through the Diamondbacks organization, finally making his major league debut in 2014. In his short two-year career, the Venezuelan-product has hit to the tune of a .292/.329/.386 triple-slash line, with 10 home runs, 72 RBI, and 40 stolen bases. Inciarte was the fourth runner-up in the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year race, finishing behind New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom, Cincinnati Reds speedster Billy Hamilton, St Louis Cardinals second-baseman Kolten Wong, and Philadelphia Phillies closer Ken Giles.
To put the wraps on Atlanta’s haul, they also acquired Aaron Blair. The 23-year-old right-handed Marshall graduate was originally selected in the 21st round of the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft by the Houston Astros. However, the then-high school student decided to forego his draft selection, by going to Marshall University. Blair was re-selected in the 2013 draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks, with the 36th overall pick. Blair has fared very well for himself in the minor leagues, tallying a 23-13 record over his tenure with Arizona’s Single-A (Rookie, Short Season, and Advanced), Double-A, and Triple-A affiliates. He also recorded a 3.22 ERA in that span. In my opinion, Blair could see time in the majors, as soon as midseason 2016.
With this deal in the books, many fans are asking what’s next for each team? Well, I’m here to tell ya. By making this move, the Braves are that much further into a true rebuild. Since last offseason, the team has moved Craig Kimbrel, Evan Gattis, Justin Upton, Andrelton Simmons, Cameron Maybin, Jose Peraza, Jason Heyward, and now Shelby Miller. If that doesn’t signalize a plan for the future, I don’t know what does. As a result of these trades though, Atlanta has built themselves a rather impressive farm system. A crop of prospects now headed by the recently-acquired Swanson, also includes the previously-mentioned Blair, left-hander Sean Newcomb, shortstop Ozhaino Albies, and right-hander Touki Toussaint. With the Braves in a full-blown rebuild, it only makes sense for the team to move first baseman Freddie Freeman to further improve their farm system. Whatever the team decides, their future remains very bright.
For Arizona, I don’t know where they go from here. This has been a dream offseason for the D-Backs, as the team has added a pair of top-end studs for their rotation, while keeping their core intact. They retained the services of A.J. Pollock, Paul Goldschmidt, and Patrick Corbin. In any year, I’d consider that to be a success. The team has been rumored to be pursuing bullpen help, and have been linked to reliever Shawn Kelley most notably. Otherwise, it’s been a rather quiet offseason rumor-wise. As seen with the Greinke situation, nothing can necessarily be ruled out when it comes to the Snakes.
With the Winter Meetings in full swing, it’ll be interesting to see how the next five days play out. Will Arizona make another move before leaving Nashville? Does Freddie Freeman find himself in another uniform by Sunday? Who will be the next free agent to sign? All these questions will be answered, so stay glued to Baseball Essential for all of your 2015 MLB Winter Meetings updates.