The Giants and Dodgers have “checked in” on Braves righty Shelby Miller, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports on Twitter. We already heard recently of interest from another NL West club, the Diamondbacks, though those talks apparently did not progress (Twitter link).
It’s not entirely clear at this point what level of interest the Braves have in dealing the 25-year-old righty. He re-emerged last year in Atlanta after being acquired in the Jason Heyward trade, contributing 205 1/3 innings of 3.02 ERA pitching with 7.5 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9. MLBTR projects Miller to earn $4.9MM in his first of three trips through arbitration.
The Braves have already made clear that they’ll trade just about anyone on their roster, after a major sell-off last year and recent send-off of shortstop Andrelton Simmons. GM John Coppolella has said that the team will not trade first baseman Freddie Freeman, but it seems plausible to think that any other players could be had for the right price.
Young pitching has clearly been the focus of Atlanta’s acquisition efforts thus far, and the club has built an impressive stable of arms. Most recently, high-upside hurler Sean Newcomb headlined the Simmons swap. And a number of other pitchers were already installed in the upper reaches of the farm last winter.
On the surface, then, it might be asked why the Braves would have any interest in dealing players such as Miller and Julio Teheran, both of whom are affordable, well-regarded, younger pitchers. (You could say the same of already-dealt lefty Alex Wood.) The answer, perhaps, is that the value of these kinds of pitchers is arguably highest right now, when the club is simply not ready to compete, making it an opportune time to cash them in for assets that will be of greater utility down the line. It’s also worth noting that, as with Simmons, both Miller and Teheran will enjoy fairly significant raises over the coming seasons.
Both San Francisco and Los Angeles, of course, are said to be hunting for significant rotation upgrades this winter. The division rivals have both had their share of injuries in the rotation and seek multiple new arms. For the opposite reasons that might motivate the Braves to deal a player like Miller, it’s certainly plausible to imagine both clubs having interest in the concept of sacrificing near-future value for a mid-prime major leaguer who is at least controllable for a few seasons at a reasonable rate of pay. That’s all the more true, of course, given that both the Giants and Dodgers are said to be weighing significant free agent pitching investments.
It’s obviously not worth speculating too much about what kind of return might entice the Braves, but there’s little question that both prospective trade partners have the assets needed if the motivation is there. And it’s worth remembering that the Atlanta front office has proven itself highly creative in structuring deals. Of course, it remains to be seen whether there’s a match to be made with these — or other — teams.