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MLB Mailbag: – MLB Trade Rumors

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As explained here, we have been writing Trade Rumors Front Office originals such as this one for the last four years or so, but moving forward they’ll be available on the website and not just in subscribers’ inboxes.  In the near future, expect to see roughly six such paywalled posts per week here on MLBTR.  This week’s mailbag explores the logic behind a Mason Miller trade, the Giants’ slow start, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s true talent level, potential rotation upgrades for the Orioles, musings about the White Sox and Angels, and a look at Kim Ng’s tenure as Marlins GM.

Phillip asks:

Mason Miller and Lucas Erceg are amazing, and totally wasted on the A’s right now, despite them playing better than expected. But any trade would best be for solid prospects-SEVERAL solid prospects- who are 2-3 seasons away instead of MLB-ready guys who would also be wasted on the current and near-future teams. Given that, what team has those far away prospects to pay for one of those splendid slingers? Not Baltimore, more’s the pity.

This brings up a philosophical question: should bad teams have nice things?  Mason Miller provides a reason to watch the A’s, and his season has been insane so far.  And while he’s under team control through the 2029 season, we can’t count on him to hold up or on this franchise to be willing to pay him those last few years if he does.

So the cold-hearted logical answer is for the A’s to trade Miller as soon as possible, as he might be at peak value and could be a lot less valuable the next time this organization has a realistic shot at contending.  (I am aware that the A’s are not awful so far this year at 15-17, but I do not think they have a realistic chance at making the playoffs anytime soon).

It’s worth considering that Miller was a starter in college and all through the minors.  He came down with a “mild UCL sprain” in mid-May of last year, which involved a four-month recovery period and short appearances when he returned in September.

A’s GM David Forst explained to MLB.com’s Martin Gallegos last December that he’d like to see Miller stay healthy for a year as a reliever before the team considers moving him back into a starting role.  When a pitcher excels as a closer to the degree Miller has thus far, it’s often hard to get him out of that role, but if he can eventually transition back to starting, he could theoretically be even more valuable.  But given last year’s UCL sprain and the attrition rate of the game’s hardest throwers, there’s a pretty good case that Miller is indeed at peak value right now.

I don’t know where the hell the A’s are going to be (as an organization) in 2026, when Miller will receive his first arbitration salary. Given the extra uncertainty around the franchise these next few years, Phillip’s case makes some sense: trade Miller (and/or Erceg) now for prospects who are several years away from the Majors.

The problem with this idea is that a prospect’s uncertainty is higher the further away he is from the Majors.  Trading Miller this summer might require threading the following needles:

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