As Kat O’Brien writes and long-time RAB supporter Mike R. noted yesterday, the A’s are willing to shop Dan Haren, and the asking price for Haren is in line with – that is, identical to – the Twins’ initial demands for Johan Santana.
So who would you rather? I think I know my answer.
The righthanded Haren just turned 27 and has emerged as one of the top American League pitchers. Last season, he was sixth in the AL with a 56.4 VORP. Comparatively, Santana sat at 57.7. For an offensively impotent A’s team, he went 15-9 with a 3.07 ERA. He struck out 192 batters in 222.2 innings.
Last year’s stellar season is the third year in a row of marked improvement by Haren. He dropped his ERA by 1.05 runs, saw his strike out numbers improve and topped 215 IP yet again.
And then there’s the contract. Where Johan Santana will probably cost the Yanks upwards of $20 million a year for six or seven years, Haren is under contract through 2010. He’s owed, as Buster Olney noted today about $4 million in 2008 and $5.5 million in 2009. His club holds a $6.25 million option for 2010. That’s a fantastic deal.
Despite the allure of Haren, however, I’d rather have Santana. Santana, as we all know, will be 29 next year, and Haren’s age may give him the advantage of a season or two more of potential greatness than Santana, Johan is the better pitcher. When you consider park-adjusted ERA’s, Haren’s jumps up to around 3.70, an increase of over 0.60 runs per 9 IP while Santana’s sees a much smaller increase of around 0.60 runs. There’s no need to rehash Santana’s stat line yet again, but those numbers are stellar. And Johan’s a lefty.
If the Yanks are willing to make a deal with the prospects the A’s are supposedly desiring in exchange for Haren, they would be better off trading for Santana, insane contract demands included. Santana’s track record is better; the Yanks could use a lefty in the pen; and by trading for Haren, the Yanks would be assuming the risk of taking on a player who’s been good with one spectacular season. There’s no guarantee that Haren can repeat his 2007 performance while playing for a team in the AL East. With Santana, we know what we’re getting, and what would be getting is greatness.