Whenever a big trade is made in the baseball, the first thing everyone springs to is trying to define how it "changes the market." One trade changing the landscape of an entire trade market is certainly a possibility a lot of the time, but it is not necessarily a rule. In the case of the Arizona Diamondbacks trading an absurd amount for starting pitcher Shelby Miller, it probably will not change how the Cleveland Indians approach trading their own young, cost-controlled pitching.
Late Tuesday night, Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart picked up the MLB hot stove and threw it in a volcano. The D’Backs sent outfielder Ender Inciarte, prospect Aaron Blair and 2015 No. 1 overall draft pick Dansby Swanson to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Shelby Miller and relief pitcher Gabe Speier. Let’s be clear: This is a broken trade in favor of the Braves. Someone in Atlanta is playing with Fair Trades turned off.
Now the important questions for the Cleveland Indians: How does this affect the trade market for Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, and Trevor Bauer?
Whether you want to believe the Indians will trade them or not, we already know they are talking to several teams about it. We know they talked to teams at the 2015 trade deadline, and we know they have talked to at least the San Francisco Giants, the Texas Rangers, and the Diamondbacks (who, admittedly, are probably out of the conversation at this point) this offseason. The D’Backs reportedly balked when the Indians asked for A.J. Pollock, which partially shows how this Miller deal has nearly nothing to do with the Indians trade plans.
To put it simply, the Braves are rebuilding and the Indians are not. Normally when a team is trading away a high-profile pitcher, it means they can do so for a pile of prospects (like the Braves got for the Miller). But in the Indians case, they need talent right now. They are in the middle of their window to win a Championship, and while a Dansby Swanson would be great, he does nothing to help them for the next several years unless the intent would be to flip him immediately. Because the Indians are also trading a player with an impact right now, it means they also need to find a team that is competing, which makes everything more difficult. It leaves them asking other competing teams for their own impact players, and often results in both sides walking away.
There is also the point that Dave Stewart fis a legit crazy person and the rest of the league knows it. Part of me has to think that, if Chris Antonetti went to another general manager saying "well Dave Stewart gave up a first overall pick, a high pitching prospect, and an impact outfielder for three years of Shelby Miller so you should match it," he and whoever he is talking to would both bust out laughing.
It is also important to keep in mind that Carrasco and Salazar may not have the trade value of Miller to begin with. We like to call Carrasco young, but he will be 29 when next seasons starts while Miller will be 25. Both Carrasco’s and Salazar’s value also comes from one season of being dominant. Prior to 2015, we had no idea if Carrasco could maintain his excellent second-half performance of 2014, and Danny Salazar started the season in Triple-A because of his inconsistency.
I am still firmly in the camp of wanting the Indians to deal a pitcher to improve their offense, and I think they would bring in a huge haul for the Tribe, but this Shelby Miller trade does not necessarily have a significant impact on what they will be asking for. We already know the Indians bar is set absurdly high for their pitchers, this probably won’t change that.