Dan Haren was traded to the Los Angeles Angels, getting them a great starting pitcher. The Angels trade for Haren might help them in the future, but it seemed like a desperate move this year, most likely fueled by their fears of the Texas Rangers. According to ESPN, the Arizona Diamondbacks traded Dan Haren to the Angels in exchange for pitcher Joe Saunders, two minor league pitchers, and a player to be named later. The trade gets the Angels a front-line starter, and helps the Diamondbacks shed some future salary that will help them (allegedly) rebuild that team again. On the surface, the trade seems to make sense for both ball clubs, but digging a bit deeper finds a number of holes in this trade.
Dan Haren is a really good pitcher who had been playing for a terrible team this season. He posted a 7-8 record with a 4.60 ERA, but an amazing 141 strikeouts in 21 starts this season. The ERA is an aberration for Haren, who had posted great ERAs over the past three years. For his career, he has a 3.71 ERA and a very nice WHIP of 1.20. He is a three-time All-Star who pitched for the Oakland Athletics before going to Arizona in 2008 and posting a 16-8 record. Haren is the type of starting pitcher who could be a great No. 2 for any staff and lead many other staffs around the league. He is a strikeout pitcher, and that is something that the Angels will really need if they are going to try to catch up to the free -swinging Texas Rangers.
Delving deeper into this trade, it makes even less sense for the time being. The Diamondbacks need a starting pitcher like this, but are dumping Haren, most likely because of the contract that they signed him to. Haren will make $12.75 million in 2011 as well as 2012, so trading him gets them out of paying the rest of his contract. He has a team option for $15.5 million in 2012, with an additional buyout clause of $3.5 million should the Angels decide not to exercise the option.
The Angels definitely got a nice (and expensive) starting pitcher, but the team is also seven games behind the Texas Rangers in the American League West, and has been outscored this season. It seemed like it would have made more sense to bring in a big-time hitter, but starting pitching can never be overvalued. Making the deal now gets them Haren for next season, and hopefully the trade doesn’t give Angels fans false hope that the Angels (three games over .500) can catch the Rangers (17 games over .500) this season.