Shelby Miller: Pitcher on the Trading Block?


The Atlanta Braves acquired Shelby Miller a year ago from the St. Louis Cardinals along with top pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins in exchange for star right-fielder Jason Heyward.

Though the trade of Jason Heyward disappointed and angered much of the Atlanta Braves’ fan-base, the first of John Harts litany of transactions of the past year is justifiable and also worked out quite well for ball-clubs. The Braves made the decision to try to yield some value for Heyward’s expiring contract in exchange for 4 years of control for Shelby Miller and the upside of Tyrell Jenkins.

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While the Atlanta Braves had their worst season in recent memory in 2015, Shelby Miller was perhaps the brightest spot in an otherwise lackluster year. The 25-year-old pitcher received his first All-Star selection in 2015, pitching exceptionally well in the first half of the regular season. Shelby Miller recorded a 2.38 ERA and a 5-5 record in the first half of the season, ranking in the top 5 pitchers in the National League in ERA.

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The second half the regular season was an exercise in frustration for Shelby Miller, as the Braves’ ace suffered through a streak of 24 consecutive starts in which he did not record a win. He snapped the streak on the final day of the season against his former team, setting the offseason up with an increased sense of optimism.

Given the cost of acquiring Shelby Miller, and the fact that he was undoubtedly the best pitcher in the Braves’ starting rotation last season, it seemed pretty clear that Miller was one of the few Atlanta players that is considered “untouchable”. Amidst the myriad of trades made by the Atlanta Braves front-office over the past year though, no player, no matter how talented, is exempt from trade speculation.

Yesterday, a report surfaced that GM John Coppolella and the Braves discussed a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks involving Shelby Miller for A.J. Pollock. While this may disappoint many Braves fans who are now attached to Shelby Miller, it’s great to see that the Braves’ front-office is making an active push to acquire a legitimate bat. A.J. Pollock was an All-Star last season, slashing .315/.367/.498 with 20 homers, 76 RBI’s, and 39 stolen bases. At 27-years-old and with speed, Pollock slots nicely into what the Braves are trying to do. 

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Of course the trade talks broke down and the transaction never came to fruition; but still, given the Atlanta Braves wealth of talented young pitching waiting in the wings, why not trade Shelby Miller for a bat? The Braves possess a dearth of offense, and with two many pitchers to fill just five spots in the starting rotation, I’m fine with parting with Shelby Miller for a bat like A.J. Pollock.

I don’t believe that this is the end of trade talks involving Shelby Miller. Similar to the trade of Andrelton Simmons last Thursday, and the ongoing speculation involving Freddie Freeman, every player on the roster and in the farm system is an asset that the Braves’ front-office can barter with. With a clear need to acquire a number of bats, young pitching the best currency in baseball.

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Shelby Miller could also remain with the Braves next season, as could Freddie Freeman. It is clear though that we as fans of the Atlanta Braves cannot stay attached to any player, no matter how difficult it is. I’m not happy with the complete deconstruction of the roster, but I believe that there is an endgame here, and it if it all works out, the Atlanta Braves are better off in the future. The payoff is a season or two down the road, but if the Astros, Mets, and Cubs are indication, the future remains bright amidst the darkness.