That's a helluva return for #Braves. I didn't like idea of trading Miller, but for that? Yeah, tough to argue after they got that package
-- David O'Brien (@DOBrienAJC) December 9, 2015
What was that package, you ask? Well, they got a defensive wiz of an outfielder who also happens to be one of the game's better up-and-coming contact hitters in Ender Inciarte, a major league-ready pitching prospect in Aaron Blair, who I rate as one of the top 50 Fantasy prospects for 2016 and, oh yeah, the first overall pick in this year's draft. That'd be Dansby Swanson, for the uninitiated.
@CBSScottWhite What kind of insidious blackmail material do the Braves have on the Diamondbacks??
-- KaylaDaDrunkReindeer (@VixenRogue) December 9, 2015
In this era where prospects are the most valuable form of currency, no team trades a player it drafts that high -- no team. Which kind of puts that Jason Heyward trade last offseason into perspective, doesn't it?
The Cardinals thought Miller was worth a rental outfielder. The Dbacks think he's worth the franchise. Who do you trust more?
-- Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) December 9, 2015
Or does it put the season Miller just had into perspective? After all, it was the best of his career, by most measurements -- an All-Star season, actually -- and you've probably read somewhere or another that he was a victim of unprecedented bad luck, finishing with a record of 6-17. Even knowing run support was an issue as a member of the rebuilding Braves, did that win-loss disguise just how special he was?
Dansby Swanson, Aaron Blair and Ender Inciarte is the core of the sort of deal I was expecting to see for Jose Fernandez, not Shelby Miller.
-- Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 9, 2015
OK, well, he wasn't that special, and I'd argue, at least from a Fantasy perspective, he wasn't special at all. He was fine, a good source of ERA and someone you could trust to start every fifth day, but as has been the case for all of his young career -- and I suspect is a reason why the Cardinals traded him -- his numbers just didn't measure up to the stuff. Even that sparkling ERA was mostly front-loaded. It was an even 4.00 over his final 18 starts. Whether he deserved to go 1-14 during that stretch is another matter, but he wasn't an effective pitcher, plagued by the same efficiency issues that ran him out of St. Louis. He went less than six innings in one-third of those starts, which would, speaking more practically than technically, disqualify him for a win even if he had pitched well.
But again, his career is young, and he does show flashes that suggest he's on the verge of something at age 25, like when he delivered two shutouts in the span of three starts in May or had more than a strikeout per inning nine times over the course of 33 starts. It's just that usually when a young flamethrower is working to overcome control and efficiency issues, the overall strikeout rate comes out to something a little better than 7.5 per nine innings -- worse than what Kyle Hendricks and Rick Porcello had, oh by the way.
The Diamondbacks only make this trade if they anticipate Miller getting better, and I just don't think you can count on that in Fantasy. He'll win more games, sure, but given his peripherals, probably not enough to make him more than a top-40 starting pitcher.
So what's the collateral impact? Well, the one change that is of probably the greatest interest to Fantasy owners is that the Diamondbacks' once overloaded outfield is suddenly down to three. There's a chance they could work prospect Socrates Brito -- who looks much like Inciarte, actually -- into the mix if they've just about given up on Yasmany Tomas, but either way, David Peralta should get a chance to play every day. Judging by his .312 batting average and .893 OPS in 462 at-bats last year (though mostly against right-handed pitchers), I'd say that only improves his sleeper appeal, potentially even vaulting him into the middle rounds.
Chase Anderson is an easy oust from the Diamondbacks starting rotation, but if they were to continue their pursuit of Mike Leake, Robbie Ray would be out as well. He has some modest sleeper appeal, despite his control and efficiency issues (sound familiar?). Meanwhile, Archie Bradley continues to stew in the minors.
Blair now has the inside track on a rotation spot with the Braves. He has nothing more to prove in the minors, having gone 13-5 with a 2.92 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP in 26 appearances (25 starts) between Double- and Triple-A, including half a year in the dreaded Pacific Coast League. His strikeout potential is in question, so he may not deserve any mixed-league consideration (especially pitching for the team that stuck Miller with a 6-17 record), but he's much more polished than Mike Foltynewicz and could eventually develop into a top 40 Fantasy option.
I suppose Inciarte would have to lose some value, if only because he'll no longer have A.J. Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt to drive him in, but he'll have no competition for at-bats. His presence will delay the arrival of young speedster Mallex Smith, who at least had NL-only Rotisserie appeal, and may bump Michael Bourn from the lineup entirely if the Braves opt to play Hector Olivera in left field rather than at third base.
And then, there's Swanson, the player the Diamondbacks suffered through a whole year of losing to get. He'll give the Braves the franchise shortstop they knew they didn't have in Andrelton Simmons, and he's as safe a long-term investment as you'd expect a first overall pick to be. He may not profile as a 30-homer guy or even a 20-homer guy (not far off, though), but his offense should still stand out at a thin position. His makeup is off the charts, and his polish should allow him to hit the ground running if the Braves had reason to force the issue. I'm guessing he'll spend all of 2016 in the minors, but he's still one of my top 10 Fantasy prospects for the upcoming season just for the long-term keeper appeal.