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Thoughts on trading Shelby Miller

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Several teams have been rumored to be interested in acquiring Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Shelby Miller, for good reason. What kind of a return should we expect to see if he is traded?

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Another day, another Atlanta player on the trade market.

The past few days, the hottest name surrounding the Braves has been Shelby Miller, who is coming off of the best year of his four-year career. The most tangible rumor was that the San Francisco Giants checked in on Miller's availability, and the Braves were interested in Matt Duffy or Joe Panik in return.

While it might disappoint some of you to know that the Braves are dangling yet another young, controlled player on the trade market, I see this as good news. John Coppolella has been hoarding arms for the past two years essentially, and their is an obvious lack of bats in the system at the moment. So to hear that the Braves are looking to move Miller for a young position player should at least bring some hope to those who have been turned off by the huge number of volatile arms Atlanta has acquired.

The front office has always maintained that the strategy of this rebuild is to acquire a healthy dose of pitchers, and then develop those pitchers and trade some of the surplus for hitters. It seems like that is certainly the case at the moment:

Meanwhile, the Braves are looking to get young position players back if they ship out arms, per Rosenthal.

And based on some of the returns we have heard the Braves are looking for, it's not going to be a small move if/when Miller gets dealt.

Chicago has mentioned that they are willing to ship out Javier Baez and/or Jorge Soler, and while both of those players have strikeout issues (both struck out 30 percent of the time in MLB plate appearances in 2015), they also have the potential to become impact hitters. They were one of the teams that apparently checked in on Miller. Meanwhile, with the Giants, both Duffy and Panik are coming off of excellent 4-WAR seasons and are controlled through 2021. The Giants rumors come just a week after the Braves were reportedly checking into Arizona's A.J. Pollock — who is under control for three more seasons and is coming off of a 6.6-WAR season.

Based on all of this, it seems clear that the Braves are now turning towards acquiring a young, impact hitter that they are lacking. If it takes the best pitcher on the team to do that, I say go for it.

Sure, Miller is under control through 2019 and could be involved with the team when the rebuild is finally coming around and the Braves are ready to compete, but Miller's value is likely at it's peak right now, given his production last season, his age and the length of control currently on his contract.

After free agents David Price and Zack Greinke sign, Miller is likely the best option available for teams who are competing and looking to bolster a starting rotation. Johnny Cueto is certainly an option on the free agent market as well, but given his age and health questions, I would think most teams would prefer Miller.

Take a look at the table below to compare these four and get a bit of an idea of what Miller's value is this offseason.

IP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BABIP

ERA

FIP

xFIP

WAR

Price

220.1

9.19

1.92

0.69

.290

2.45

2.78

3.24

6.4

Greinke

222.2

8.08

1.62

0.57

.229

1.66

2.76

3.22

5.9

Cueto

212.0

7.47

1.95

0.89

.281

3.44

3.53

3.78

4.1

Miller

205.1

7.50

3.20

0.57

.285

3.02

3.45

4.07

3.4

All of these pitchers are durable, top-of-the-rotation arms at the moment, albeit a fairly significant drop-off after Price and Greinke. They are clearly in a different league, but after they have signed monstrous free agent contracts teams are going to look to Cueto and Miller, and even though a team will have to give up some prospects to acquire him, Miller certainly seems to be a better bet going forward than Cueto — at least in my mind. Feel free to call me out on this one.

Regardless, it should be fun to see how this unfolds, as Miller is probably the team's best bet to acquire a legitimate hitter this offseason, should the Braves continue to pursue that. Looking back at the Jason Heyward trade though, I have to wonder what else will go into a package that yields a young, controllable hitter that provides as much value as Duffy/Panik/Pollock do. If that type of talent is what Atlanta is going after, it's almost certainly going to cost more than just Shelby.

After all, the Cardinals traded four years of Miller in addition to Tyrell Jenkins for just one year of Jason Heyward. I'm not buying the idea that the Braves could simply flip Miller for Matt Duffy — who finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting — and call it a day. And I don't think you should either.

That doesn't mean all of this is starting to get a little bit more interesting. Bats people! Think of the bats!

I'd love to know what you guys think about trading Miller, and any reasonable trade packages you would like to see if he is dealt. Fire away in the comments.