For 29 major-league teams, getting Shelby Miller would be the highlight of any off season.
For the Arizona Diamondbacks, it is just the second step in a very quick rebuilding process.
According to FOX’s Ken Rosenthal, the Diamondbacks acquired Miller for the Atlanta Braves in a five-player trade, just days after signing Zack Greinke to a six-year, $206-million contract. The move gives Arizona a 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation that can match any team in baseball.
Miller’s 2015 season was possibly the greatest argument in baseball history against the value of win-loss records for pitchers. He went 6-17, including a 16-game losing streak, but was actually one of the most valuable pitchers in the National League.
In 33 starts, the 24-year posted a 3.02 ERA and a 1.247 WHIP while striking out 171 batters in 205 1/3 innings. His performance was enough to earn him an All-Star bid, and his 3.6 WAR just missed the top-10 in the National League.
Miller isn’t a one-year fluke, either. He has averaged 2.9 WAR over his first three seasons, split between the Cardinals and Braves, making him worth about $20 million a year on the open market. However, Miller won’t be eligible for free agency until 2019, making him a huge bargain for the Diamondbacks, especially with Greinke making over $30 million annually.
Obviously, a pitcher with that kind of talent in his mid-20s didn’t come cheap. The Diamondbacks gave up three potential stars, including shortstop Dansby Swanson, the first overall pick in the 2015 draft. The Braves also received 25-year-old outfielder Ender Inciarte and 24-year-old pitcher Aaron Blair
Inciarte hit .303/.338/.408 as Arizona’s starting right fielder, while Blair had a strong 2015 at Double-A and Triple-A after being Baseball America’s 40th-ranked prospect before the season.
Arizona also received pitching prospect Gabe Speier in the deal. Speier has now been traded from the Red Sox to the Tigers to the Braves to the Diamondbacks in the last 12 months, and still hasn’t pitched above the Midwest League.