In time, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ offseason trade of Dansby Swanson, Aaron Blair and Ender Inciarte to the Atlanta Braves for Shelby Miller may turn out alright.
Just more than one month into the 2016 season, however, the deal looks bad. Really bad.
Miller, who was acquired to bolster Arizona’s starting rotation and provide a nice 1-2 punch at the top with Zack Greinke, is 1-3 with a 7.36 ERA. He has allowed more hits (31) than innings pitched (29.1), while adding another 21 walks, too.
As for what the D-backs surrendered in the trade, Swanson, the top pick in the 2015 MLB first-year player draft, is hitting .324 with one home run and seven RBI in 10 games for Double-A Mississippi, while Blair is 0-2 with a 3.1 ERA in three starts for the Braves.
Inciarte, who has appeared in just six games for the Braves due to injury, is hitting .238 with three walks.
Of course, it would be unfair to declare the trade a loss for the Diamondbacks, as this season is still young and the players involved have long careers ahead of them. However, Yahoo! Sports MLB writer Jeff Passan, as a guest of Bickley and Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Wednesday, is not optimistic about Arizona’s chances to come out of the deal with a win.
“I thought Shelby Miller was a No. 4 starter and that is not hindsight looking back there, I just didn’t think that the stuff was there when he got out of Atlanta — for him, especially with the way his stuff plays — to be a front-line guy in Arizona,” he said. “I thought Shelby Miller for Dansby Swanson, one-for-one, Atlanta still would have gotten the better end of that deal, but I suppose I could understand that.
“That has a chance to go down as one of the worst trades of the last 25 years. If Dansby Swanson is anything like what he has been so far this season — and he’s been spectacular on his way up to Double-A — he could play in the big leagues right now, I think he’d probably be a pretty decent big league player right now.
“And then to throw in Inciarte and Blair, who is for the next seven years going to be a major league starter, it was a spectacular overpay and for the Diamondbacks then to go back and say I think Shelby Miller is putting too much pressure on himself, well I wonder why.”
The last line was said with a hint of sarcasm, and while Passan’s overall point may be harsh, as of now it’s difficult to contest. And to be fair to Passan, he was not exactly impressed with the D-backs when they swung the deal back in December.
Yet, Miller is coming off his best start of the season in a win over the Braves, and if the 25-year-old can build off that six-inning effort then this deal at the very least could produce some positives for Arizona.
But until he looks more like the pitcher he was last season, when he carried a 3.02 ERA and was named to the NL All-Star team, doubts about Miller will persist, and if the players the D-backs gave up to get him continue to play well while Miller struggles, the trade will not be remembered all too fondly in Arizona.
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