Atlanta Braves: Miller Trade Makes Braves Better in 2016


Insane. Ridiculous. Lopsided. Blockbuster. Momentous. Pivotal. Awe-Inspiring.

These are all words that can describe the transaction between the Atlanta Braves and the Arizona Diamondbacks. yesterday. They are all apt descriptions as the swap of talent was absolutely ridiculous. In case you

Jun 2, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder

Ender Inciarte

against the Atlanta Braves at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

have been under a rock for the last 24 hours, the Atlanta Braves swapped RHP Shelby Miller for outfielder Ender Inciarte and prospects SS Dansby Swanson and RHP Aaron Blair. In essence, the Braves gave up 1 year of Jason Heyward in exchange for 1 year of Shelby Miller, 5 years of Ender Inciarte and 6 years of Tyrell Jenkins, along with MLB top 30 prospects Aaron Blair and Dansby Swanson. It worked out. Sorry for all you Heyward lovers.

Now, the Braves half of the trade is being universally praised by sportswriters across America. This was a haul that nets greater return than if the D-Backs had simply accepted the initial Miller for A.J. Pollock deal. However, despite this, there are still Braves fans out there that remain misled by the Braves giving up more Major League talent for prospects. They are angry that the team is seemingly worse for 2016. That’s not true. In fact, this trade makes the Braves better in 2016, and WAY better in 2017.

-= Related: Shelby Miller Traded to Diamondbacks =-

Last year, according to Baseball Reference, Shelby Miller put up a 3.6 WAR. That’s pretty good and the big righty added in a .302 ERA in 205.1 IP. He was more than a middle of the rotation arm, and now seems a legitimate #2 starter with #1 potential if he can build on last year. However, the Braves biggest problem last season was offense, and they have now added Ender Inciarte who is immediately the best outfielder in the organization.

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His 56 defensive runs saved are third most in baseball since his debut in 2014, and in 2015 he rated as the second best defensive outfielder in baseball behind the Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier. Inciarte hit .303/.338/.408 with 21 SBs and 6 HRs. His WAR, according to Baseball Reference was 5.3. A large part of that comes from his defense, but would you like to see a list of players who had lower WARs than Inciarte? Miguel Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Jose Bautista, Dee Gordon, Andrew McCutchen, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Altuve, and Justin Upton all had lower WARs than Ender Inciarte. Take that for what it’s worth.

Arguably, last year Ender Inciarte was more valuable that Shelby Miller by himself. But the Atlanta Braves got more than that. Aaron Blair threw 77 innings in AAA last year and put up a 3.16 ERA with 56 Ks and 27 BBs. The big 6’5″ RHP looks ready to make his Major League debut at some point during the 2016 season. With Miller gone, there is now an extra rotation spot available alongside Julio Teheran and presumably Bud Norris for the young pitchers to

June 23, 2015; Omaha, NE, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores shortstop Dansby Swanson (7) fields a ground ball during the fifth inning against the Virginia Cavaliers in game two of the College World Series Finals at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

get some innings in.

Sean Newcomb, Aaron Blair, Matt Wisler, Manny Banuelos, Mike Foltynewicz, Williams Perez, Chris Ellis and Ryan Weber will all be competing for innings within those remaining 3 rotation slots at some point during the season. Tyrell Jenkins is a wild card, but will likely not see action until 2017. Likely none of those guys pitches as well as Shelby Miller will in 2016, however they don’t have to. All they have to do is pitch adequately and develop and the Braves will be better. Offensively and defensively, Inciarte is a huge upgrade. A much bigger upgrade than the downgrade from Miller to whoever slates into his slot.

It is reasonable to expect that this addition proves immediately more productive than Shelby Miller by himself. After 2016 it only gets better, as Swanson has a legitimate chance to open the season at SS, allowing the club to take its time with Ozhaino Albies. The rush for Mallex Smith to make his debut can also be relaxed since the Braves will no longer have to depend on Michael Bourn.

Next: Atlanta Braves: Julio Teheran in D-Backs' Trade Talks

There is no reason not to have excitement. Everything about this trade works is in the favor of the Atlanta Braves. Surely there are fans that will miss Shelby Miller, as he was a stand up guy, but as John Coppolella said, this is the turning point in the rebuild. This was the first step towards fielding a competitive, complete Major League team. Don’t complain about this. This is a win in every way imaginable.