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D’Backs trade No. 1 overall pick to Braves for Shelby Miller

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The Braves wanted a haul if they were going to give up Shelby Miller and they got one from Arizona, landing 2015 first overall pick Dansby Swanson, as well as outfielder Ender Inciarte and right-hander Aaron Blair, in a deal agreed to Tuesday.

The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro was the first to report the players involved.

Miller, 25, was a very attractive piece in trade talks after posting a 3.02 ERA in 205 1/3 innings for Atlanta last year. He’s proven durable thus far, and he’s still three years away from free agency. If he keeps pitching like he did last year, he gives the Diamondbacks a second No. 2 starter along with Patrick Corbin behind ace Zack Greinke. They can then round out the rotation with Robbie Ray and either Rubby De La Rosa or Chase Anderson.

Still, it’s a real whopped of a price to pay. Swanson, a 21-year-old shortstop, hit .289/.394/.482 in low-A ball in his pro debut last season. He projects as a top-of-the-order guy and he should be able to stay at shortstop, though he could also move to second with fellow top shortstop prospect Ozhaino Albies in the Braves system.

Inciarte has quietly been a very valuable player these last two years, hitting .292/.329/.386 in 942 at-bats while playing top-notch defense throughout the infield. He’ll step in as the Braves’ center fielder over Michael Bourn, and if he keeps hitting, he should be able to hold off prospect Mallex Smith to retain the job.

Blair is known for his sinking fastball, and though his strikeout rate fell well off in the upper minors last year, he’s still well regarded as a future middle-of-the-rotation starter. He’ll likely open 2016 in Triple-A.

This makes three of the Braves’ top five or six prospects that came from the Diamondbacks system, with Swanson (the new No. 1) and Blair joining Touki Toussaint, who was picked up in a salary dump last summer.

UPDATE: The Diamondbacks are also getting 20-year-old left-hander Gabe Speier in the deal. Speier, who ranked somewhere in the bottom half of the Braves’ top 30 prospects, was picked up by the Braves last month from the Tigers in the Cameron Maybin trade.

 

Yasmani Grandal signs a four-year, $73 million deal with the White Sox

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The first truly big free agent signing of the offseason has gone down: the Chicago White Sox just announced that they have signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million deal.

Grandal, 31, was the best catcher available in free agency. He is coming off a fine year with the Milwaukee Brewers, with whom he had to settle for a one-year pact in 2019. He hit .246/.380/.468 with 28 homers and 77 driven in. It was his fourth straight season with 20+ homers. While his catching has been criticized due to some high-profile mistakes in the postseason, the two-time All-Star once again proved himself to be one of the best pitch-framers in the game if not the best. Between the bat and the glove he has a claim to being one of the best all-around catchers in baseball.

The signing leaves open the question of what happens to James McCann, who was himself an All-Star this year. It’s not that hard a question, of course, as Grandal is a far superior catcher to McCann in every respect. The Sox could make McCann a backup. Alternatively, they could try to trade him to fill other holes on the roster.

The White Sox finished 72-89 in 2019 but are showing signs of coming out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode. This signing pushes them a big step into that direction.