Speculation finally becomes reality! The Diamondbacks (how long before the team name is changed simply to "The Backs"?) made a trio of trades today, most notably, a trade for Dan Haren. The team also traded closer Jose Valverde and acquired Red Sox favorite Billy Buckner.
The Diamondbacks trade "pitchers Brett Anderson, Greg Smith and Dana Eveland, along with outfielders Carlos Gonzalez and Aaron Cunningham and first baseman Chris Carter" (MLB.com) to the Athletics for pitchers Dan Haren and Connor Robertson. On the surface, an excellent deal for the A's whom are said to be rebuilding for the opening of their new ballpark in 2011. To me, this looks similar to the haul the Indians received from the Expos in the Bartolo Colon deal.
In Haren, the DBacks receive a bonafied ace. His 56.4 VORP (value over replacement player) ranked him #12 overall with the 16th best RA+ (park and league normalized run average). However, a great deal of Haren's damage was done in the first half of the season - similar to 2006. The difference for Haren this season was his ability to strike hitters out at a much improved rate while keeping his walks relatively low. I assume that keeping those numbers up with the Diamondbacks fielding should allow Haren to repeat what was a fairly impressive season. Add in that he will be facing a pitcher about 3 times a game, and as mentioned, the club has acquired an ace to be their #2.
The team also acquired Connor Robertson, whom I am seeing has some nice minor league numbers - 11.96k/9, 2.81era, 7.65h/9. He presumably was not an integral part of the deal, but could end up being a nice piece to the DBacks bullpen for the next couple of years. I wonder how much his inclusion depended on the team moving Valverde (or the other way around).
For Haren and Robertson the main piece of the pie the A's acquired was 22 year old Carlos Gonzalez. The kid appears to have some impressive pop in his bat at a very young age. PECOTA (Baseball Prospectus' projection system) projects him to hit .472, .466, .475 and .464 the next four years. On the negative side, they also project around 120 strikeouts annually, which should come as no surprise given Gonzalez's track record. Either way, the kid is a top prospect and should be patrolling the outfield in Oakland (or Freemont) from 2009 until 2014 or later.
The team also received one of the Chris Carter's. The young Carter whom the Diamondbacks recently acquired from the White Sox looks to have incredible power potential (TheBaseballCube.com) and will presumably force Barton to DH when he is called up in 2010. Hes a nice addition to the package and definitely did not cost as much as he will provide for the A's down the line.
In addition, the Athletics received the very young Aaron Cunningham. Having only limited success in AA (albeit at a young age), Cunningham is a prospect to keep an eye on for 2011 given his excellent minor league OBP of .378. Adding Dana Eveland was an impressive move by Beane, in that he acquired a major league ready lefty whom has had solid success in the minors despite being shuffled between the rotation and the bullpen. Greg Smith is in a similar boat in that he is nearly ready for a full time role in the majors. If minor league numbers translated identically to the majors, Smith would be a strong starting pitcher. However, they do not, so we'll have to see. Lastly, the A's received another arm in Brett Anderson. Hes a lefty who had a solid k/9 in his first season as a pro. He's at least three seasons away from doing anything in the majors, and there is too little about him for me to pretend I know what I am talking about.
The Diamondbacks trade "closer Jose Valverde to the Astros for pitcher Chad Qualls, infielder/outfielder Chris Burke and pitcher Juan Gutierrez" (MLB.com). In my opinion, an excellent deal for essentially both teams. The Diamondbacks did well to move the Valverde's 'save value' in exchange for a solid, if not spectacular set up man in Chad Qualls. Chris Burke has been a personal favorite of mine as I patiently wait for him to breakout - thats what 123 career minor league steals coupled with a .369OBP and the ability to play multiple positions will do.
The Diamondbacks gave up the best player in this deal, however coupling Qualls with Burke and a young pitcher whom was rushed through the minors is not a bad exchange. It appears as though the Diamondbacks are ready to hand the reigns over to the young Tony Pena, although given the addition of Haren, it wouldn't surprise me if they have something else in the works. This is a break even type deal where the Astros bought a reliever at his highest value whom is going to cost an arm and a leg in arbitration due to his league leading and career high season in saves.
"The Royals acquired infielder Alberto Callaspo from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday for right-handed pitcher Billy Buckner" (MiLB.com). To be honest, when I first saw this on ESPNews this evening, I was shocked. The first thing is, there is no way to be really impressed with what Buckner has done throughout his minor league career. Sitting at over a hit allowed per inning with under a strikeout an inning and an average walk rate, as a righty, he really doesn't do much for me. Although, according to the sourced article from MiLB.com, Buckner has a solid curve ball, so I suppose with some mentoring from Dan Haren as well as the switch to the NL, he may just end up being an average starter - not a bad exchange for a middle infielder whom had little chance to provide impact in 2008, but not a great one either.
But for Callaspo? A young middle infielder whom has walked more then struck out. A player with limited power but excellent bat control and the ability to hit doubles. I'll hand it to Dayton Moore on this one, as he has found the heir to Grudzielanek at 2B for 2009 and possibly even improved his minor league system if Callaspo proves ready for the majors this coming spring - that is, who wouldn't be interested in Grudzielanek for some high ceiling low level prospects?
There were a fair amount of moves today and I don't intend to talk about everyone in such detail - or possibly at all. However, I felt compelled to report this as well as give my opinion on the barrage of trades orchestrated by the Diamondbacks. I can't remember another time where a team completed three trades, all of which will have immediate impact, on the same day. As well, with the Haren move, it is only a matter of time before Blanton goes and I imagine this helps improve the price tag of both Santana and Bedard (although some have suggested Haren was already the most valuable available pitcher, given his contract situation).