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Five potential trade partners for Braves SP Shelby Miller

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Ray offers his thoughts on five potential trades the Braves could make if they decide to deal starter Shelby Miller this offseason.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, there are about 20 teams interested in trading for Braves starter Shelby Miller. Some of the teams mentioned in that article are the Yankees, Giants, Marlins and Diamondbacks. There was another rumor, eventually shot down, that the Braves were asking for Joc Pederson from the Dodgers for Miller. So, yeah, there are plenty of teams interested in trading for a 25 year old starter with three more years of control.

Miller owns a career record of 32-35 with a 3.22 ERA, 3.82 FIP and a 4.08 xFIP, striking out around 7.5 batters per nine innings, walking a little over three per nine, and inducing ground balls at a 42% clip. An ace, he is not, but he is a valuable innings eater, which many teams crave. He has pitched 173 or more innings in each of the last three seasons, tossing 205.1 last season. To put that in context, only 28 starting pitchers three 200 or more innings last season, or less than one per MLB team.

So here are five potential destinations for Miller:

1.       Pittsburgh Pirates

2.       Washington Nationals

3.       Los Angeles Dodgers

4.       Arizona Diamondbacks

5.       Minnesota Twins

Pirates

The Pirates lost starter A.J. Burnett to retirement and J.A. Happ to free agency, so they need another innings eater in their rotation. The Pirates have the prospects to make a deal with Braves, with outfielder Austin Meadows as the headliner. In case you didn't know, the Pirates have probably the best outfield in the game, with Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte, so Meadows is blocked for the foreseeable future. Toss in another outfield prospect, Harold Ramirez, who is also blocked, and the Braves just might bite. Meadows and Ramirez would be a welcome change after all the pitching prospects the Braves have traded for in the past year.

Nationals

The Nationals lost Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister to free agency, but have a few pitchers they can replace them with in Joe Ross and Tanner Roark. Top prospect Lucas Giolito could be in their rotation at midseason, so they have options. But, one other thing to keep in mind is that Stephen Strasburg is a free agent at the end of the 2016 season, and his agent Scott Boras will more than likely want…err force…... him to test free agency. Trading for Miller allows them to let Strasburg walk at the end of the season. In return for Miller, the Nationals give up pitching prospect Reynaldo Lopez and infielder Wilmer Difo. Difo has speed and some pop and can man second base and play some shortstop in a pinch. Lopez is Nationals best pitching prospect behind Giolito, can hit triple digits with his fastball and is a potential middle of the rotation starter.

Dodgers

The Dodgers system is pretty stacked at the moment, and while they want to get younger, they have a greater need for a young right handed starter in their rotation with lefties Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood and Brett Anderson the only starters returning from their rotation last season. The Dodgers could offer outfield prospect Alex Verdugo and catching prospect Austin Barnes for Miller. Verdugo could be the Braves center fielder of the future, but his arm plays in right field as well. His power is a work in progress at the moment, and Baseball America ranked him as the Dodgers 7th best prospect in their 2016 Dodgers Top 10. They ranked Barnes as the Dodgers 8th best prospect, and would fill the Braves need for a young catcher.

Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks are in desperate need of several starting pitchers and have several decent pitching prospects and too many outfielders, so a package of pitching prospect Aaron Blair and outfielder Ender Inciarte could be enough to bring back Miller. Inciarte is 25 years old and can play center field, replacing Cameron Maybin who was traded a few weeks ago.

Rumors last night had the Braves really pushing for outfielder A.J. Pollock and Aaron Blair, offering Miller and closer Arodys Vizcaino, but I don't see the Diamondbacks dealing one of their best players right now. A package around Blair and Inciarte could get a deal done.

Twins

The Twins rotation is nothing to write home about and needs a near ace to pair with potential ace Jose Berrios, who should get a call up sometime in 2016, if not out of spring training. In return for Miller, the Twins could give up infield prospect Nick Gordon, the brother of Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon. Nick is a shortstop presently, but with Ozzie Albies set to be the Braves shortstop of the future, he could move over to second base to form a dynamite middle of the infield duo. Add in one of two pitching prospects Alex Meyer or Kohl Stewart and the Twins could have themselves a solid #2 starter and the Braves have a solid middle infielder who can be their future leadoff hitter.

It appears the Braves are set on dealing Miller, as they are in total rebuild mode right now, but reports last night indicate they may wait till Zack Greinke makes a decision on where he wants to pitch over the next six seasons before they deal Miller. Once Greinke signs, Miller should get more attention from the teams that miss out on signing Greinke. As it stands right now, Greinke is deciding between the Dodgers and Giants, but other clubs could jump in as well.

Either way, it looks like the Braves could get a nice package in return for Miller.