NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Though Shelby Miller has been the focus of most recent trade rumors, there is also a chance the Braves could opt to deal Julio Teheran to a pitching-hungry club.
The Braves remained quite active when the Winter Meetings opened on Monday at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. They had conversations with a few teams interested in the possibility of acquiring Miller or Teheran.
While these conversations differed in nature, each seemed to affirm that the Braves will only deal Miller if they gain a significant return that would most likely include an impact bat and a Major League-ready starting pitcher.
"We have not picked up the phone one time on Shelby Miller," Braves president of baseball operations John Hart said. "We are all very happy to have Shelby Miller continue to grow from a [No. 3 starter] to a 2 to a 1 and be a part of us for the next three years. When you look at the price of poker for pitching right now, and you look at a guy like Shelby with 200-plus innings and a [3.02] ERA who is under control, we're certainly going to get calls.
"We are not afraid to receive the calls and discuss, but none of us here have any interest in trading Shelby. But at the same point, at this time of year, you're going to get these calls, and Shelby has been a guy."
The D-backs were one of the first teams to show interest in Miller, and they have had nearly daily conversations with the Braves over the past week. The two teams talked again on Monday about a number of potential deals, including some that included Teheran, whose struggles this past season have put him in a position where he would not bring as significant of a return as Miller.
While the D-backs have been reluctant to include A.J. Pollock in any potential deal, the Braves have continued to talk to other clubs, including the Cubs, who possess some attractive impact hitters, such as Jorge Soler.
"When teams call us, we've got to at least listen, whether it's about Shelby or any of our many young pitching prospects," Braves general manager John Coppolella said. "I think we owe that to our fans to try to get them some semblance of an offense."
Teams have understandably been drawn to Miller, whose performance and cost set him up to be a definite bargain within the expensive pitching market. The 25-year-old All-Star hurler, who posted a 3.02 ERA in 33 starts in 2015, is set to make approximately a total of $22-30 million via arbitration over the next three years. At the high end, Miller would draw an average salary of $10 million as he remains arbitration-eligible. This figure has made him even more attractive to both the Braves and other teams who have already seen the cost of acquiring the likes of Zack Greinke, David Price or even J.A. Happ.
"The way this pitching market has escalated, we're fine holding Shelby Miller. There isn't any rush to trade this guy," Coppolella said.
If the Braves trade Miller or Teheran, they make a much-needed improvement to their offense and also negatively impact their initial goal to be a playoff contender by the start of the 2017 season. Parting with either of these two affordable top-flight starters would likely lead the starting rotation to be primarily filled with some of the club's highly regarded prospects, who would likely initially deal with inevitable growing pains.
Thus Hart said he "would sleep better" if the Braves end up keeping Miller.
But as the trade discussions persist, it's obvious the Braves are not sleeping on the possibility of using their pitching depth to upgrade their offense.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.