On Sunday, the Angels loaded up their pitching rotation by adding a highly praised ace pitcher.
They acquired starting pitcher Dan Haren from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Joe Saunders, two minor league pitchers, and a player still to be revealed.
Haren, 29, was in his third season with the Arizona Diamondbacks. After dominating the past several years, he has had many struggles this year with an ERA of 4.60 and a record of 7-8.
Not only has Haren struggled, but the Diamondbacks have also struggled tremendously as well. They are currently 37-62 and sitting in last place in the NL West.
Haren sees playing with the Angels as an opportunity to play for a team where he and the team will succeed. He is hoping to help the Angels—currently seven games back of the Rangers—win the AL West.
"At this point, being on the West Coast has a lot of value to me, being near my family and going to a ball-club that is dedicated to winning," Haren said after Arizona's 10-inning loss to San Francisco. "I am really excited about going there and having a chance to win."
Haren, a three-time all-star, was among the top players being talked about as the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline comes upon us.
Now he will be mixed in one of the best starting five rotations in the American League. Angel starters lead the league in innings pitched and have a combined 56 quality starts, which is tied for third in the AL.
Among the starters are Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana, and Joel Pineiro.
"We really feel good about our starting five moving forward," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "This is a huge opportunity for us to upgrade not only now, but for the next couple of years. He's definitely a guy who has pitched in big games, has terrific stuff and he's a young veteran."
Saunders was stretching with him teammates before their game against the Texas Rangers Sunday night when Scioscia pulled him off the field to meet with general manager Tony Reagins.
What came next for Saunders was something he was not expecting at all.
"I thought he was going to say, 'Hey, we need you to go on three days' rest,' but Tony was in the office and, you know, it's hard," said Saunders, who spent eight years with the Angels organization. "It's part of the game. I totally understand. It's a business. It's just tough leaving the guys."
Arizona knows they lost a great pitcher in Saunders, but they are confident the players they received in the trade will be able to replace him.
The Diamondbacks received reliever Rafael Rodriguez and 21-year old Patrick Corbin, a second-round pick currently with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes—the Angels Class A team.
And according to Arizona Republic, the player still to be revealed is Class A left-hander Tyler Skaggs, one of the Angels' top prospects.
"Saunders brings an element to our club that I think we need," Arizona interim GM Jerry Dipoto said. "The prospects in the deal bring us talent that we need to build with. Therefore, I felt that this deal checked a lot of boxes for the Arizona Diamondbacks."
Scioscia says that Haren’s first start with the Angels could be as soon as Monday against the Boston Red Sox.
Haren faced Boston on earlier this year on June 17, when he gave up four earned runs and seven hits in 5.2 innings.
"I believe his turn would be tomorrow, but we're going to evaluate a couple of things and get a chance to talk to him and see where he is," the manager said. "We've got guys who are on regular turn now, so we do have the luxury of folding him in somewhere or putting him out there to pitch tomorrow."
Saunders has had a very rough season so far; he has a record of 6-10 with an ERA of 4.62.
"I've been in trade talks in the off-season and stuff like that but you never really think it's going to happen," said Saunders, who lives in Arizona. "They obviously think highly of me, so it will be a new challenge."
The Angels were in the discussion of possibly adding a power hitter to the line-up. Among the people discussed were Adam Dunn, Prince Fielder, Jorge Cantu, and Adam LaRoche.
But in the end, they came away with Royals’ third baseman Alberto Callaspo and Dan Haren.
"I don't think we've said it had to be an impact bat," said Reagins, who added, "There are still opportunities out there. We're trying to improve our club. If we can find fits out there, we're going to still be aggressive trying to get them."
The addition of Haren is a “counter attack” to the addition of Cliff Lee to the Rangers, the team the Angels are chasing after.
Scioscia, along with the whole Angels’ organization, is hoping that the addition of a premiere pitcher will help keep them in the race for a division crown as the Rangers have slowly began to creep away.
"A top-of-the-rotation guy that's going to help us not just this year but years down the road," Reagins said. "The addition of Dan gives us five guys that are really talented."
When all is said and done, the Angels improved their team significantly.
But is it enough to keep up with the red-hot Rangers?