Angels Steal Haren from the Diamondbacks

Steve O Speak

The Deal: The Los Angeles Angels acquire SP Dan Haren for SP Joe Saunders, SP Pat Corbin (A+), RP Rafael Rodriguez (AAA), and a PTBNL (likely SP Tyler Skaggs (A-):

Angels: Not only did Los Angeles win this trade, but they did so in a landslide. Dan Haren might be having a bit of a down year but this is a guy whose numbers put him as one of the top 25 pitchers in the league the past 5 years. And during his past two years with the Diamondbacks he was a top 10 pitcher. Now most people might not put him in that elite of a category as he doesn’t have the dominate pitches you usually associate with an ‘ace’, but at worse he is an excellent number 2 starter. What makes him even more valuable is his age and contract. Haren will turn 30 later this year is only due about $4 million the rest of this season, and is under contract for $12.75 a year in both 2011 and 2012. Haren has a very affordable 2013 option at $15.5 which should get picked up, barring some major injury. The Angels acquired a very affordable frontline pitcher for the next 3 and a half years and really didn’t give up anything to do so. They traded more last season for Scott Kazmir who hadn’t been nearly as consistent as Haren. Now the Angels will make a solid run at a playoff berth this year, but are completely set up in their pitching rotation for 2011. All-around this is a great move by the Angels, one that will help them on the field and off, particularly as they look to attract free agents this offseason.

Diamondbacks: I keep looking at this trade and for some reason expect it to get better, but alas it does not. And unless it ends up being 3 PTBNL and they are all top prospects, this is just a bad deal. I have no problem with the Diamondbacks targeting pitching since that is the weakness in their system, though it did severely limit your return from the Angels as their top guys are all hitters. What I do have a problem with is the fact that they have nothing to show for trading their ace. Talk about selling low on a guy, of the 3 prospects the D-backs acquired just one ranked in the top 10 of Keith Law, Baseball America or Baseball Prospectus, and that is Skaggs the player to be named later. Skaggs is a good prospect and has pitched well this year in low-A, but there was a couple reasons he ranked on the low end of those top 10 lists. One, he is straight out of High School and while he has pitched well this year, he is probably at least 3 years away. Secondly, while he is projectable, he is far from a sure thing and really only projects as number 3 type of pitcher. Unfortunately for Arizona fans Skaggs is the peak of this deal.

Pat Corbin is a solid prospect and another young left-hander in the midst of a good year in the lower minors. He too is probably about three years away, but he is less of a sure thing, especially when it comes to being in the starting rotation. Rafael Rodriguez is the lone righty and reliever in this deal, but he doesn’t bring much to the table. He should easily make it in the Diamondbacks horrendous bullpen, but will probably never be more than a solid middle reliever at best. From a name standpoint Joe Saunders is the headliner of this deal, but in reality he might be the weakest link. Saunders is a back of the rotation lefty starter, who gives up way too many hits and home runs. His perception and contract are inflated, given the fact that he won 33 games between 2008-2009. While he was pretty good in 2008 he pitched above his head in 2009, and his win totaled was boosted by being on a very good team (and some luck). This year his numbers have gotten worse and his win total has collapsed. What makes things worse for the D-backs is that given his previous win totals Saunders will make probably close to $6 million next season in Arbitration (and even more the year after that). That will significantly eat into the money that the Diamonbacks saved by trading Haren. And what’s worse is that Saunders isn’t worth that much on the open market, but because of P.R. issues they can’t even think of non-tendering him.

This deal was just awful for Arizona as they shouldn’t have taken back any money, much less on a guy like Saunders. Then on top of that the rest of their return wasn’t impressive at all. If I was Arizona I would have insisted on Trevor Reckling be involved in the deal in place of Saunders and a lower pitcher like Trevor Bell or bullpen prospect Jordan Walden to replace Rodriguez. Even then it wouldn’t have been a great deal since there are no sure things, but it would have been a much better return for 3 and a half years of one of the better pitchers in baseball.

Winner: It is not even close the Angels won this deal the moment Trout’s name wasn’t included or it wasn’t for 8 guys. It’s doubtful Los Angeles will ever miss any of these guys, and they set themselves up big time over these next couple of years.

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