The rumor mill keeps churning out big news and it is not even time for Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings yet. According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Atlanta Braves were discussing the possibility of sending right-handed pitcher Shelby Miller to Phoenix:
There is a reason why talks did not get too serious. Apparently, the D-backs were not interested in what the Braves were seeking:
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Don’t be fooled by Miller’s record from 2015. Though he led the National League in losses with 17, he pitched to a 3.02 ERA on a truly horrible Braves’ team. He was an All-Star selection for the first time as he also posted an NL-high 33 starts. Atlanta simply did not provide him with any run support. In seven of his starts, he either received the loss or a no-decision when throwing seven innings or more and allowing three runs or less. Miller’s ERA did not go above three until his last three starts of the year as the Braves finished 13-18 over the final month of the season. They were actually a .500 club on June 1st yet ended up with a final record of 67-95.
As for Miller, he is only 25 years old and has already started 30 games or more for three consecutive seasons. He was the main guy brought to Atlanta when the Braves traded All-Star outfielder Jason Heyward to the St. Louis Cardinals last offseason. Miller has thrown four complete game shutouts over the last three years and has a 3.22 ERA in 102 career games. In short, he has the makings of an ace or, at the very least, an excellent number two starter for years to come. Best of all, he is club-controlled for the next three years.
Having said all that, Arizona was wise not to let talks progress further if the Braves were indeed asking for A.J. Pollock. No offense to any of the other outfielders but the dropoff in production between Pollock and Ender Inciarte, David Peralta and Yasmany Tomas is stark. Those three are all fine players but none of them is the all-around force that he is. Part of the reason the D-backs were great both offensively and in the field was because Pollock stayed healthy the entire season and delivered one of the best performances by any player in baseball. The Snakes need to keep the core of Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt together while they search for the right combination for the starting rotation.
If the Braves want an outfielder, one of the other three mentioned plus another player from the Major League roster such as Nick Ahmed, Chris Owings or Jake Lamb and a prospect should be deemed acceptable by D-backs’ management. If Atlanta balks at that proposal, then so be it. The Arizona Diamondbacks should not be including A.J. Pollock in any deal even for one that as the ace potential of Shelby Miller.