Last offseason, the Arizona Diamondbacks made a potentially franchise-altering trade.
In a deal with the Atlanta Braves, the Diamondbacks acquired right-hander Shelby Miller and minor league left-hander Gabe Speier in exchange for outfielder Ender Inciarte, pitching prospect Aaron Blair and 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson.
The D-Backs' front office faced a lot of scrutiny around the league at the time of the move, and they still do now. In fact, the team's higher-ups are considering overhauling the front office. That's not all because of this one move, but it certainly plays a role.
I'm going to go out and say it: the Braves fleeced the Diamondbacks in this trade.
Atlanta headed to Arizona last night for the beginning of a four-game series. In uniform for the Braves was Swanson; in Triple-A for the Diamondbacks was Miller after struggling mightily this season.
However, I'm going to try my best and defend this trade from the Diamondbacks' perspective.
Hindsight is always 20-20, but you have to remember the circumstances the Diamondbacks were in when making the trade.
On Dec. 8, 2015, the Diamondbacks made the biggest splash of the offseason, signing starting pitcher Zack Greinke to a six-year, $206.5 million contract. Still, the team felt that they needed another ace-type piece in their rotation to really contend going forward.
That led them to the acquisition of Miller, who, as General Manager Dave Stewart told the Arizona Republic, was actually a cheaper price than that of Miami Marlins' ace Jose Fernandez or Cleveland Indians' ace Danny Salazar.
Miller, from every standpoint imaginable, was an organization's dream.
He was coming off a year where he posted a 3.02 ERA and a 3.45 FIP over 33 starts. He had three years of team control, all of which would have been relatively cheap through the arbitration process. And he was the top of the rotation piece that the Diamondbacks envisioned they were missing.
I'm not saying that I'm the greatest when it comes to predictions, but I even thought that the Diamondbacks did what they needed to become a contending team when it came time for my NL West predictions.
Sure, the return was a lot. That goes without saying. But let's look at it this way.
With two new starting pitchers in the rotation, Blair became an odd man out. The Diamondbacks did not have a spot open for a big league ready right-handed starter with Greinke, Miller, Patrick Corbin, Rubby De La Rosa and Robbie Ray in the fold, all of whom they could control through at least 2018.
They also had Archie Bradley and Braden Shipley, both big league ready starting pitchers that arguably carried more upside than Blair. So where does that leave him? Blair ends up becoming a bullpen arm, working in long or middle relief. In the Diamondbacks' mind at the time, he's expendable.
Inciarte was a tougher giveaway than Blair, but even still, there was definitely some reasoning behind the move.
Arizona still had some very capable outfielders to handle their spots on the big league club. A.J. Pollock is a star, David Peralta is serviceable (perhaps even more than that after posting a 138 OPS+ in 2015) and an opening would provide a spot for Yasmany Tomas, a Cuban who they gave $68.5 million to.
Again, though Inciarte posted a .303 batting average last year with a .747 OPS and great outfield defense, he could be considered somewhat expendable based on the Diamondbacks' situation and their having of other players that do provide value in their outfield.
And it must be remembered that Pollock, who was worth 6.6 fWAR last season, has missed every single game this season due to a fractured right elbow that he suffered in Spring Training. Though he'll return soon, that loss cannot be blamed upon the Diamondbacks' front office.
The same goes for Peralta, who only played in 48 games this year due to injury. In fact, his season is over.
So the Diamondbacks traded from a position that they thought they had a surplus in, but instead got burned when two of their three starting outfielders bit the injury bug.
Lastly, though, Arizona dealt Dansby Swanson. And I'm not quite sure why. It's hard to me to try and justify why he was included, but I will do my best.
Swanson, at the time, was not supposed to be in the Major Leagues until 2017 or 2018 at the soonest. He was just drafted, and it's hard to expect a player to be up as fast as he has come up.
The Diamondbacks wanted to contend now. And Swanson was a way to get the deal done, obviously, providing the prospect value it takes to get the trade partner to say yes. To Arizona, it appeared, he wouldn't be ready for awhile, and even if they were still contending then, it's still a gamble, as it is with every prospect.
Yes, I know Swanson was the No. 1 overall pick. And that the No. 1 overall pick should be at least a somewhat valuable Major League player. (There's something to be said that the first No. 1 overall draft pick got into the National Baseball Hall of Fame just this year.) But even still, it's a risk that might not even be ready for a few years.
But without a guarantee, and the fact that they'd be getting what they thought would be a great, potentially top-of-the-rotation type starter, I can almost see where they were coming from. The Diamondbacks dealt players from places where they thought they had surpluses, and sometimes, that's the best way to carry out an organization.
Unfortunately, they got burned for it, and I'm not sure that the members of the front office will ever recover from what is shaping up to be one of the most lopsided trades in MLB history.