Braves not making calls on All-Star Miller, but they are listening
NASHVILLE -- Shelby Miller's name has been rumored in a number of trade rumors, but the Braves are being clear: they're not the ones making the calls on their All-Star right-hander.
"We haven't picked up the phone once to call anybody about Shelby Miller," Atlanta general manager John Coppolella said Monday at the first day of the MLB Winter Meetings at the Gaylord Opryland Resort.
Though as the franchise looks to aid an offense that was 30th in runs scored in 2015 and 29th the year before, he and the Braves brain trust are at least willing to listen.
"Whether it's Shelby or any of our many pitching prospects," Coppolella said. "I think we owe that to our fans to try and get them some semblance of an offense."
Miller could return that, as he's been linked to the Cubs, Diamondbacks -- despite their acquisition of Zack Greinke -- and Dodgers, with the likes of Joc Pederson (Los Angeles), A.J. Pollock (Arizona) and Jorge Soler (Chicago) said to be in the Braves' demands.
But the Braves have had discussions on a number of their young pitchers, with president of baseball operations John Hart mentioning right-hander Williams Perez and All-Star Julio Teheran is believed to be garnering interest as well.
First, though, Atlanta is playing its hand in the free-agency waters as it looks to address stated needs of a right-handed center fielder, a catcher and a utility player, before it considers unloading any of its young arms.
"The free agents that we're discussing and talking to, if that doesn't, if you will, play itself out, if we so chose we have the ability to make some deals," Hart said.
Miller, 25, is coming off a season in which he lost an MLB-worst 17 games and endured a 24-start stretch without a victory, but he also had career-bests in ERA (3.02), strikeouts (171) and innings pitched (205 1/3) and started 33 games, the most in the National League. Keeping him in Atlanta as the anchor of the rotation for years to come remains the team's focus.
"We are all very happy having Shelby Miller continue to grow from a (No. 3 pitcher) when he came here to a two to a one and be a part of us for three years," Hart said.
That the Braves are fielding calls on Miller and so many of their young pitchers speaks to the changes the franchise has undergone in the last season. A stunning 11 of the team's top 15 prospects were acquired since the team began a re-imaging that began with last November's trade of Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden to the Cardinals for Miller and right-handed pitcher Tyrell Jenkins.
The depth has turned them into a farm system that many -- Coppolella among them -- believe is the best in baseball, and changed the kind of interest the Braves are garnering at the Winter Meetings.
"Last year we started all the machinations and moving. We had no players and people weren't talking to us ... we were out more selling than anything else," Hart said. "I think one of the things that's happened her is we have been hit on a number of upside pitching that has been here now and we've been hit on number of young players in our system."
"It's been interesting when you find out when people start asking about our players."
Like Miller, and like so many of the Braves' prized prospects. They may not be on the move, but Coppolella, Hart and Co. are going to pick up the phone.