Braves Building, D-Backs … Well, Who Knows?

I was out doing some work on the yard this afternoon when the thought struck me out of the blue: Man, the Diamondbacks traded away Dansby Swanson.

AD2016_3D_Primary_RGBSure, we’re two months and change removed from the deal, but what got me thinking about it was I honestly couldn’t remember who they’d gotten in return.

Odd, that. Because, surely, to give up a No. 1 draft pick  – not just a first-rounder, but and honest-to-goodness No. 1 overall pick – the return must have been substantial.

So I looked it up.

Shelby Miller from Atlanta.

Ohhhh.

There were a couple other pieces, too. Atlanta also shipped out promising left-handed pitching prospect Gabe Speier who was serviceable, if not strong, at the Single A level this past season.

But, as already mentioned, Arizona gave up Swanson – the top overall pick last June.

It was weird enough on its own, but they also sent outfielder Ender Inciarte and RHP Aaron Blair, a top-40 prospect according to Baseball America.

AB2015_3D_Primary_RGBI’m not personally a fan of the Braves, but I’m a fan of the way they do things, as a rule. They tend to buy low and sell high, get the most value out of their payroll and aren’t afraid to exercise patience in building a long-term winner.

This may be the move, when we look back at it two or three years down the road, that proves to be the tipping point on their road back to fringe dynasty status.

They landed a leadoff hitter, a potential front-end-of-the-rotation arm and a marquee shortstop who, from all reports, isn’t that far away from breaking through to the big leagues. And they did it for the price of a very good (perhaps growing into elite) pitcher with some documented mechanical issues (who, if he continues along the current development trajectory, could be due a fairly big pay check when his contract comes up at the end of this season) and a prospect who never pitched an inning in the organization.

The D-backs, though. The deal seems one-sided … and confusing. It really begs the question (knowing nothing about Swanson personally), did they see something in him that was absolutely irreconcilable or irreparable? Or do they see something in Miller (personal preference here – I like pitchers that have a changeup to lean on, rather than a strict mix of mid-90s fastballs and curveballs) that the rest of us don’t ?

It reads as a “win-now” move. The Arizona lineup is strong. They shelled out the big money for Greinke, dealt for Miller and (in their best move of the offseason) bolstered the bullpen with Tyler Clippard at just over $4 million per season. They have lefty Patrick Corbin coming back and one of the better closers in the game. The corner infield may be the best in the game.

The pieces are there to really make a run this year – though they have to tangle with San Francisco (to me, the gold standard in baseball right now – with Kansas City charging up quickly in second place) and, to a lesser degree, Los Angeles in the division.

But in dealing Swanson and Inciarte … and Blair, it just has the feel of Seattle trading Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe for Heathcliff Slocumb back in 1997. It had franchise-changing ramifications for the Red Sox over the following seven seasons. Maybe we’ll see the same for the Braves.

 

 

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