MLB Trade: Dan Haren To Angels for Joe Saunders and Junk

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MLB Trade: Dan Haren To Angels for Joe Saunders and Junk
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Well, Dan Haren was finally traded, but not to the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, or St. Louis Cardinals—three teams that really want another top hurler.

Haren was traded to the Los Angeles Angels for left-handed, back-end starter Joe Saunders and three pitching prospects. None of these returning pitchers were top-10 prospects in the Angels organization.

Kudos to Angels GM Tony Reagins for swooping in late and pulling off this coup.

Several factors indicate that acting Arizona GM Jerry DiPoto jumped the gun and reached on this deal.

First, while Saunders is regarded as a nice pitcher, and will replace Haren on the Diamondbacks rotation, he is not nearly in the same class as Haren. Despite both having similar ERAs, Haren is much more a strikeout pitcher while Saunders pitches to contact.

Not that pitching to contact is bad, but when you add in Haren's reluctance to walk anyone, his zenith could explode much higher than Saunders' ever will.

Second, the Diamondbacks were interested in also having teams paying Haren's entire salary. This money includes about $3 million more this season, $12.75 million in 2011 and 2012, plus a $15.5 million 2013 option (or $3.5 million buyout).

Yes, that is more than what Saunders is owed, as Big Joe is still under team control for two more arbitration seasons. Saunders' two arbitration seasons could net him about $12 million over that span.

The Diamondbacks are saving money, but the money is not as big of a difference as you would think they could have gotten.

Third, the minor league pitchers received aren't impact-type guys. Patrick Corbin is a 20-year-old who has generated a High-A Cal League 5-3 record with 3.88 ERA and a K/9 rate of 9.5. This is after a Low-A 8-0 record with a 3.86 ERA with a 6.5 K/9 rate.

This is the best minor league guy in the deal, which means the deal is not great for Arizona. Rafael Rodriguez is 25 and an okay guy, but is also a bullpen arm. Unless he miraculously turns into Mariano Rivera, or even Ocatvio Dotel, his career is not going to be noteworthy.

Except for this bad trade.

A player to be named is likely to be Tyler Skaggs, the Angels supplemental first-round pick last year. He is throwing well so far this season, his first full year, but is at least four seasons away.

What the Diamondbacks did not do is center their deal with the Angels over their top guy, heavy-hitting outfielder Mike Trout, also a 2010 Futures Game participant. Trout is a great combination of power and speed, who also makes great consistent contact.

That's a far cry from what current third baseman Mark Reynolds offers the Diamondbacks.  

Hint for teams wishing to trade a top player for young talent: Always seek out the other teams' Futures Game players. Every organization is represented by two players, and they are usually some of the best players in that team's system!

While the deal clearly favors the Angels, it will not help the Halos this year. It's more of a trade for 2011 and 2012.

The Texas Rangers are too far ahead in the standings, have the better ace in Cliff Lee, a very solid bullpen, and a much more potent lineup.

I do not believe they will stumble over the next two months, and they might be the team to beat in the American League.

So, the Diamondbacks received a lesser Major League talent, did not save as much money on the deal as you would expect, and did not receive the Angels' best prospects.

Not a good first attempt in acting GM Jerry DiPoto's first foray into the wheeling and dealing of high-stakes baseball deals.

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