When the Arizona Diamondbacks traded a starting outfielder, the number-one overall draft pick in 2015 and a stud pitching prospect to the Atlanta Braves for a good, but not great pitcher, critics came out of the woodwork to blast the deal.
Last December’s trade that sent Ender Inciarte, Dansby Swanson and Aaron Blair to Atlanta for Shelby Miller sent the baseball world into a tizzy.
The D-backs thought they were adding a solid number-two pitcher in the rotation to supplement ace Zack Greinke, whom they signed to a massive $206.5 million contract earlier in the month. Despite losing 17 games, Miller was an effective pitcher for Atlanta; he just didn’t get enough run support.
The season is nearly a month old, and critics of the trade have only had their stances strengthened — Miller has struggled mightily. In four appearances, the right-hander has only pitched a total of 14.2 innings and has failed to get past the two-inning mark in each of his last two outings. He’s struck out 10, walked 11, allowed five home runs and has a WHIP of 1.977.
John Harper of the New York Daily News took a closer look at the best and worst offseason acquisitions and Miller is prominently featured.
The Diamondbacks took a lot of heat for giving up a big package of young players, including last year’s No. 1 pick in the country, shortstop Darby Swanson, in a trade with the Braves for Miller, but they were desperate to add another quality arm after spending huge on Zack Greinke. So far, the deal looks like a disaster as Miller has been a mess, 0-1 with an 8.59 ERA after four starts. He’s walked 11, giving up five home runs, and admits to being perplexed that his mechanics are so out of whack he is scraping his pitching hand on the ground after releasing the ball.
The perceived benefits of the trade for Atlanta haven’t been immediate. Inciarte is currently on the 15-day disabled list with a hamstring injury and is likely out until May. Blair made his big-league debut Sunday, pitching 5.1 pretty solid innings in a 3-2 loss to the New York Mets. Swanson is batting .324 (23-for-71) with a home run and nine RBI in 18 games for the Carolina Mudcats, Atlanta’s High-A affiliate in the Carolina League.
Miller wasn’t the only big name mentioned negatively by Harper. Boston’s David Price, Jason Heyward of the Cubs, Detroit’s Justin Upton and Texas’ Ian Desmond — a quartet that commanded over $540 million in free agency — also got raked over the coals.