We got a bit of a surprise on Sunday afternoon when the Diamondbacks moved SP Dan Haren, but not to one of the previously mentioned suitors. Not to the Cardinals, or the Yankees, but the Angels.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim acquire SP Dan Haren
Arizona Diamondbacks acquire SP Joe Saunders, minor leaguers Patrick Corbin, Rafael Rodriguez, and a player to be named later (reported to be Tyler Skaggs)
The Angels were really in need of another stabilizing force in their starting rotation to slot in behind Jered Weaver. Ervin Santana has been solid this season, but Joe Saunders has been hit or miss, and Scott Kazmir has been a complete mess out there. If the Angels were to have any hope of competing this season, they needed another arm to help them out.
This trade was made really though with next season in mind as well, as Haren is under contract for each of the next 2 seasons along with an option for a 3rd. Haren can really help to give the Angels a very potent 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation.
In terms of an impact on his performance, we could see improvement from him with returning to the AL West and the weak teams at the bottom of the division and also with being a lot more comfortable as he is now with the team closest to where he grew up. In addition, he has already shown that he can pitch very effectively in the AL West, having done so with the Athletics prior to being with the Diamondbacks.
The only major league ready piece that the Diamondbacks received was starting pitcher Joe Saunders. Saunders is currently 6-10 with a 4.62 ERA and 64 strikeouts to 45 walks in 120 2/3 innings pitched. He has been an All-Star previously, but overall I’m not that impressed with what Saunders has done in the Majors. He doesn’t really strikeout a lot of hitters (5.1 per 9 innings for his career), and while he should see a slight bump from going to the National League and seeing the pitcher 3 times a game, it’s probably not going to be all that substantial. Saunders is going to provide the Diamondbacks with an innings eater, and not a lot else in my opinion.
Looking at the minor leaguers:
Patrick Corbin is currently sporting a 13-3 record this season, as he has split time between Low A and High A. He has posted a solid 106 strikeout/28 walks rate in 118 2/3 innings pitched over the season, and looks like a reasonable prospect. Still just 20 years old, I want to see him continue his performance at High A for the remainder of the season. He was not in Baseball America’s Top 10 Prospects at the start of the season, but I could conceivably break into that for the Diamondbacks.
Rafael Rodriguez has made 1 appearance this season at the Major League level for the Angels, but has been used primarily as a late inning reliever at AAA for the Angels this season. He has appeared in 37 games, finishing 27 and recording 10 saves. The part that really, really concerns me about his ability to get hitters out at the major league level is the lack of strikeouts. In 50 1/3 innings this season at AAA, he has only 30 strikeouts, and also 15 walks. This season is also his 3rd one with AAA Salt Lake City. All in all, a very underwhelming player.
The player to be named later appears to be one of last year’s top draft picks, Tyler Skaggs. Skaggs was ranked 8th in the Angels’ system by Baseball America coming into 2010, and has pitched reasonably well in the Midwest League despite being only 18 when the season started. To date, he has an 8-4 record with a 3.61 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 82 innings. Skaggs seems to be the only player going to the Diamondbacks that any of the experts seem to think will do anything at the Major League level.
Overall, this trade looks like it was made way too quickly by the Diamondbacks. There were clearly some concerns with the performance of Dan Haren this season, to go along with the large contract that the previous GM had given the pitcher, but this return isn’t nearly enough for what Dan Haren can be in these next 3 seasons. Think about what the Diamondbacks gave up to get Haren (along with Connor Robertson) from the Athletics 3 years ago: Carlos Gonzalez, Brett Anderson, Dana Eveland, Greg Smith, Chris Carter and Aaron Cunningham. Granted that Haren was on a much more team friendly contract then, but even still this trade seems like a near waste for the Diamondbacks.
Even with the potential injury that Haren may have suffered last night off the bat of Kevin Youkilis, Haren is still likely to provide way more value to the Angels than the other 4 players ever will to the Diamondbacks.