In early December, the Diamondbacks shocked the baseball world when they became the first team to trade the player who was drafted number one overall in the same year in which they were selected.
Right-handed pitcher Shelby Miller was headed to Arizona, while the Dbacks coughed up 22-year-old shortstop Dansby Swanson, who Baseball America currently ranks as the No. 7 best prospect in baseball right now. Swanson was featured in the MLB Futures Game, where all the game’s top prospects annually meet up to compete against each other during All Star week. Swanson started the year at High-A, hitting .333 with a .967 OPS in 21 games before getting promoted to Atlanta’s Double-A affiliate at the end of April. Since his promotion, Swanson is hitting .265 with a .752 OPS in 60 games, but he’s hitting .344 with an .888 OPS over his last 17 games, so it looks like he’s starting to adjust to Double-A competition.
But it wasn’t just a one-for-one to acquire Miller. In addition to giving up Swanson, the Dbacks also flipped outfielder Ender Inciarte and right-handed pitching prospect Aaron Blair. Inciarte has played in 59 games for the Braves this year, but isn’t exactly setting the world on fire with his .227 batting average and .599 OPS. Blair hasn’t been anything special, either, recording a 4.26 ERA in seven starts for Atlanta’s Triple-A affiliate, and a 7.99 ERA for the Braves in 11 starts.
Numbers like that remind me of somebody. Oh yeah! Shelby Miller, who the Diamondbacks just demoted to Triple-A before the start of the second half of the season for being so terrible. Out of 137 pitchers who have thrown at least 60 innings this year, Miller ranks 135th in ERA (7.14), and has the fifth worst WAR (-1.1). He has the seventh worst strikeouts to walks ratio (1.47), with 34 walks and 50 strikeouts in 69.1 innings. He was also on the disabled list for about a month, because he sprained a finger on his pitching hand after he punched the mound during his follow through. Twice.
Even though the other two names that the Dbacks gave up in order acquire Miller seem like duds, there’s already discussion over whether or not this could be one of the worst trades of all-time, just because Arizona gave up Swanson in the deal. While it looks really bad right now, Miller is only 25 and under team control through 2018.
Miller is only one year removed from throwing 205.1 innings with a 3.02 ERA for the Braves in 2015, despite a league-leading 17 losses. Just goes to show you how useless wins and losses are for pitchers. All I’m saying is, he could turn it around. He might have dug himself too deep of a hole in 2016, but I don’t think he should be looked at as some sort of lost cause. But for right now, advantage: Braves.