Remember when the Arizona Diamondbacks were the NL World Series favorites? The team had made a lot of noise with the acquisitions of Zack Greinke and the offensive duo of Paul Goldschmidt and AJ Pollock. But perhaps the loudest statement made by the D-Backs was the major acquisition of Braves starter Shelby Miller. This, to many, solidified them as the best staff in baseball, but that staff, led by Miller himself, lost 93 games.
To get Miller (alongside prospect Gabe Speier), the Diamondbacks gave up two top prospects (Dansby Swanson, Aaron Blair) and Major Leaguer Ender Inciarte. That was one year ago, and who won exactly won that trade?
(Ender Inciarte, Braves Center Fielder. Credit: FoxSports)
The Diamondbacks’ didn’t get the ace that they had hoped for, while Atlanta cut the rebuilding process by a few years in just one shrewd move. One of the few bright spots on the 2015 Atlanta Braves, Miller was elected into the All-Star game and put up a 3.02 ERA in his 2015 campaign. This gave Arizona the confidence to offer a blockbuster deal to the Braves for the 26-year old, where Atlanta made out like bandits. Miller went a less-than-stellar 2-13 with a 6.15 ERA in 2016 for the Diamondbacks, while Swanson and Inciarte led the Braves to the best offense toward the end of the season.
Ender Inciarte solidified himself as one of baseball’s best leadoff hitters in his 2016 campaign. Though he has minimal power (3 homeruns in 2016), he put up a .292 average and was a threat on the basepath with 16 stolen bases. Inciarte scored 85 runs with a .351 on-base percentage. However, most of his value comes from the field, where he won a gold glove this past season. The best defensive outfielder the state of Georgia’s seen since a young Andruw Jones, The Braves have found their long-term solution in center field.
On the flipside of the coin, Dansby Swanson, who was drafted first overall out of Vanderbilt in 2015 by Arizona, was dealt to Atlanta. The 22-year-old shortstop made his MLB debut with the Braves on August 17th, batting .302 with 39 hits and 3 homeruns. He showed early signs of a Derek Jeter-like defender and is eligible for ROTY next year.
Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson (Photo Credit: MLB.Com)
The Braves also received pitcher Aaron Blair out of the deal. One of the best pitching prospects in the Diamondback’s organization, Blair made his MLB debut with Atlanta this past year, going 2-7 with 46 K’s. Though Blair wasn’t as impressive as one may had hoped, Dansby and Ender make this trade more than worth it, and if it was just them it still would’ve been highway robbery. The deal still might not bust for Arizona, as Miller could easily put up a Cy Young caliber 2017 campaign or Gabe Speier could come up and be lights out. Speier’s been traded 3 times since being drafted by Boston and went to Arizona alongside Shelby Miller. Speier had a respectable season in A-level ball and the Arizona Fall Leagues. A lefty pitcher, Speier has potential, but ultimately might not live up to that potential and seems to have an attitude issue.
One year removed, Atlanta’s future is now and they’re on the brink of, if not already, contending. A deal very similar to the Adam Eaton one we saw division rival Washington Nationals make that sent Adam Eaton to the NL East, Atlanta made out like bandits. Easily the best trade made since the infamous Doyle Alexander-John Smoltz trade, this will be one of the greatest trades in Braves history.
Jameus Mooney, Editor and Writer.
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