Home > Uncategorized > Arizona Diamondbacks Find Their ‘A-Plus’ Package For Dan Haren: An Overrated Starter And A Few Mid-Class Prospects. Wait, What?!

Arizona Diamondbacks Find Their ‘A-Plus’ Package For Dan Haren: An Overrated Starter And A Few Mid-Class Prospects. Wait, What?!

Here are some comments from the Diamondbacks’ CEO just a few days ago on trading Dan Haren:

“It would need to be, in our opinion, an A-plus deal. I think ideally what we would ask for is Major League-ready pitching, be it starters and/or bullpen and prospects.”

“If it appears to be a cash dump, it’s not a good message, which is not what we’re looking to do.”

“If we can get three or four pieces that can bring value now and are also controllable for a number of years, then we’d have to consider it.”

The Diamondbacks got their four pieces Sunday night, but apparently forgot that first part about needing an A-plus standard. Arizona traded Haren to the Los Angeles Angels for Joe Saunders and minor league pitchers Rafael Rodriguez, Tyler Skaggs and Patrick Corbin.

Skaggs is a top-10 prospect in the organization, according to Baseball America, but he’s just 19 and needs lots of time to develop. Otherwise, it looks like Arizona dealt away a high above-average starting pitcher for a crop of mundane.

Joe Saunders won 33 games over the past two seasons combined, but with his poor strikeout-to-walk rate, those types of seasons are more like outliers than his norm. Don’t forget that Saunders received 6.5 runs of support per outing last year. That’ll help you inflate a deceiving win count.

(I love how the writer in that “Arizona traded Haren” link above says that Saunders is “one of baseball’s better young left-handers, going 33-14 in 2008 and 2009 and 6-10 with a 4.62 ERA this season.” Because nothing says “baseball’s best” like a 4.62 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP).

Plus, Saunders’ fly ball tendencies aren’t going to work well at that launching pad in the desert.

Patrick Corbin is a decent prospect. He was a second-round selection in 2009, but he’s 21 and has yet to pitch above high-A ball. Rafael Rodriguez spent some time in the majors this year, but that didn’t go very well: Five appearances, 9.1 innings pitched, 11 earned runs, three homers. He’s pitched well at each minor-league level, but he’ll be 26 in a couple of months. He’s not really a future star. At that age, his future is his present.

Before this, the Diamondbacks were very aggressive in their pursuit of that A-plus deal. They wanted two of the Tigers top-5 prospects, including their No. 1 according to Baseball America, pitcher Jacob Turner. They reportedly wanted Joba Chamberlain, three prospects and some cash relief from the Yankees.

In those ways, maybe the Diamondbacks asked for too much. But trying to work off of that would have produced a better deal for Arizona than this, which looks like a panic move by new general manager Jerry Dipoto. Haren is under contract through 2013 for a fairly reasonable amount — about $13.67 million on average, including $12.75 million for each of the next two seasons. He has about $33 million total remaining on his current deal. The Diamondbacks have enough pending free agents and expiring contracts ready to write off the books to hold onto Haren until the time when they must send him off. But they let him go now. And for nothing at all spectacular. Or even remotely solid. Saunders is a pure middle-of-the-rotation pitcher. And Skaggs, the only other real hope for Arizona to salvage some profit out of this trade, is so young that it’s hard to project where he will be in a few years.

For the lack of a better word, panic is the best way for me to describe Arizona’s thought process on this transaction.

For the Angels, this is their “Oh, yeah? We’ll see about that” response to Texas acquiring Cliff Lee. Sure, the Angels still don’t have enough offense, and Haren is well known for not being an above-average second-half pitcher, but a rotation containing him, Jared Weaver, Ervin Santana and a recently effective Joel Pineiro is the best in the American League West. The Angels should be pleased with what they pulled off Sunday.

As we enter trade deadline week, hopefully we see more major trades like this one, with just one stipulation: The deals actually make sense for both teams.

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