**Follow-up** The deal is dead. Haren is a free agent, Marmol is back on the team. Cubs fans, put our heads back in the sand, nothing to see here.
In the grand scheme of things trading a reliever, even an elite one, for a quality starting pitcher would strike most as a move worth making.
Starters are so infinitely more valuable than relievers, even more so in the payroll department.
Yet Carlos Marmol is no elite reliever, and hasn't been for a handful of seasons now. While Dan Haren was far from stellar last season, the 32-year-old is a near-Ace caliber pitcher when he's on. Now, he's headed back to the National League and to the north side.
The Angels made this move for salary-relief, and without that in mind the deal is quite lop-sided. The Cubs were far from comfortable with Marmol as the full-time closer, yet they have now solved their top of the rotation pitcher vacancy.
Yet the Angels can be far from safe with Marmol as a reliever in high-stress situations. His 1.54 WHIP last year speaks to his rapidly-rising rates of putting on-base via the walk.
Haren's 4.33 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 2011 are outliers more than something to be expected. His touchy back injury plagued him all last season, and now the Cubs front office have made another savvy buy-low move.
Haren's career 3.66 ERA and 1.18 WHIP are the trend to be expected, especially returning to the National League. As recently as 2011 he was pitching like an Ace in the American league, imagine what he'll do in the National league central.
The team will be paying him roughly 10 million in 2013, and while he could be worth it simply to the Cubs in the present, he could also bring back way more value in an eventual deadline deal.
If Haren is back to normal in 2013, he would be ultimate trade bait for the Cubs in much need of adding more elite prospect talent. If Matt Garza is also on his A-game the Cubs would be in position to add a unbelievable amount of young players to the farm system.
Right now, the front office are putting the franchise into the exact position they want to be in. Adding a potential star for a reliever most fans would rather see on the curb. I'd be absolutely shocked to hear a single complaint from Cub-dom about this transaction.
Hell, if the team adds another mid-level starter like Shaun Marcum or Anibal Sanchez this offseason they would have a surprisingly good rotation. Yet even if the team doesn't contend like most expect, they are going to be the biggest sellers at the trade deadline, and would add more talent via trade than any other team in the Majors.
Right now, that's exactly what the team is building towards.