Trade Bait: Haren Gets His Wings

Dan Haren is now an Angel.  As we march towards the trade deadline Dan Haren has been viewed as probably the best available starter on the market after Cliff Lee was traded to the Rangers.  He’s now been traded to the L.A. Angels for four pitchers.

Haren is having his worst season since his rookie year in 2003, but talent evaluators can clearly tell that there’s still plenty left in the tank of this workhorse.  His walk rate is still below his career average and his strikeout rate is the highest of his career.  Dan has given up an abnormally high hit rate that has led to his 4.60 ERA.  He’ll replace Joe Saunders in the rotation and give the team another pitcher with ace-like potential for the remainder of the season.  On the surface, it doesn’t look like that much of an improvement as Haren’s ERA is only two points lower than Saunders’.  But Haren’s 1.348 WHIP is .144 lower than the pitcher he’s replacing.  Haren has a better strikeout rate and a better chance to improve down the stretch.

Interim GM Jerry Dipoto’s task was an unenviatable one as he must start the dismantling of a Diamondbacks team that significantly underperformed during the season.  But he did pull a decent amount of pitching out of the deal, an openly stated desire of the Diamondbacks from the outset.

The first pitcher they received was the displaced Joe Saunders.  Saunders has a low strikeout rate and a mediocre H/9 rate, but he eats innings well and keeps his team in the game.  He could improve with a move to the NL.  D’Backs fans should not look at him as a major piece of this deal, just a placeholder in the rotation until some of the other talent is available.

The second pitcher, Patrik Corbin, is a lefty with three decent pitches.  His fastball sits in the lower 90s with decent sink and lateral movement.  He also has a slurvy breaking ball and a good change, both pitches have the possibility to be plus pitches.  Corbin profiles as a mid-to-back of the rotation starter.

The next pitcher, righty Rafael Rodriguez, has been slow to develop.  He switched to relief in 2007 and may have found himself a home in the pen.  Rafael has already seen some time in the majors and could find himself in the decimated Diamondbacks bullpen pretty fast.  His average fastball and slider may be just enough to get him by for a couple seasons in Arizona.  But he’s no more than a middle-reliever.

Unlike most other trades, the PTBNL will probably be the most significant player received.  The Diamondbacks have a short list to pick from, but most reports have them already settling on 2009 draftee Tyler Skaggs.  The 6′-4″ 180 lb. Skaggs has an 88-91 mph fastball that figures to gain a couple mph as he fills out.  He also has a plus slider, as well as a slow curve.  Tyler has a change-up in the works as well.  The success of the development of his change-up will likely be the difference maker in where he projects to land in a Major League rotation.  If he gains a couple mph on his fastball and masters the change, Skaggs projects to be a top of the rotation starter.  But he’s still a long ways from the Majors, a lot could go wrong from here to there.

Overall, it is a decent haul for a pitcher with a 4.60 ERA and a 1.348 WHIP.  But given Haren’s potential to rebound, you’d think that the Diamondbacks could get more, or would gamble and try to keep him until next season in the hopes that his value would increase. 

On the Angels’ side, it’s a pretty decent gamble as they try to make a move in the AL West and try to catch up to the Texas Rangers.  He’s no Cliff Lee, but Haren adds depth to their rotation.  Combined with their other improvement to their lineup, the Angels have made two moves in less than a week that should have the Rangers looking in the rear view mirror.

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