Braves right-hander Shelby Miller is one of the hottest names on the trade market, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, with as many as 20 teams having checked in on the young right-hander. There’s no indication that anything is close at this time, Heyman notes, and the Braves are said to be asking a huge haul in return for Miller, who has three years of affordable club control remaining.
The Dodgers, Yankees, Marlins, Diamondbacks and Giants have all shown interest in Miller to this point. According to Heyman, the Braves asked the Yankees for right-hander Luis Severino in exchange for Miller, and the Marlins were asked to part with outfielder Marcell Ozuna and other pieces in order to pry Miller away from Atlanta. Those steep asking prices line up with previous reports pertaining to the Braves’ talks with the Diamondbacks, when they reportedly asked that Arizona part with star center fielder A.J. Pollock. (Those talks didn’t gain traction.)
Miller, acquired alongside minor league righty Tyrell Jenkins in exchange for Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden, is coming off a strong debut season with the Braves. The former first-rounder logged a 3.02 ERA with 7.5 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and a career-best 47.7 percent ground-ball rate in 205 1/3 innings (the innings total was also a career high). Miller won only six games due to Atlanta’s bullpen struggles and a lack of run support, but that actually enhances is value in a way. Teams won’t be deterred by a poor win-loss record when evaluating Miller, but the lack of wins will suppress his arbitration earnings, as the arb process still factors in pitcher wins/losses rather heavily. Miller’s strong body of work as a whole to this point in his career still makes for a $4.9MM projection from MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, but the number assuredly would’ve been greater had his record aligned more accordingly with his ERA.
One factor that clubs may consider, though, is that Miller’s overall numbers are propped up by what was an unsustainable run of sub-2.00 ERA production through the season’s first two months. From June 1 through season’s end, Miller posted a quality (but less impressive) 3.77 ERA with 8.0 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9 across 138 1/3 innings. Miller’s strikeout rates and control numbers have fluctuated somewhat throughout his career, but low BABIP totals and seemingly good fortune in terms of homer-to-flyball rate have led to a large discrepancy between his 3.22 ERA and metrics such as xFIP (4.08) and SIERA (4.10). Miller’s BABIP has always been below the league average, though, as has his HR/FB, suggesting that some of the perceived fortune could be more skill-based in his case.
Ultimately, the value placed upon him in a potential trade (if he is moved at all) will be dependent on whether the club places more emphasis on his ERA or on his secondary stats. Even if Miller is more of a mid- or upper-3.00 ERA type of pitcher, three seasons of control over him would still come with significant value, so it’s logical to see Atlanta placing a sizable asking price on Miller when listening to offers from interested parties.