Angels acquire Dan Haren

Well, so much for that idea. The Angels have acquired Dan Haren from Arizona for Joe Saunders, prospects Patrick Corbin (ranked 12th in the Halos’ system by Baseball America), Rafael Rodriguez (22nd), and a player to be named later. The PTBNL is not Mike Trout, arguably the best prospect in the game, but instead a list of players the D-Backs can choose from. I have to say, I find it very hard to believe that Joe freakin’ Saunders headlined a package for Haren, but so be it.

GM Brian Cashman can now focus on his stated goals of improving the bullpen and bench, though another starting pitcher never hurts.

email

Dan Haren and the three bears

Dan Haren. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

By now you’ve been inundated with rumor after rumor and discussion after discussion on how much value the Yankees would give up to receive D-Backs pitcher Dan Haren. The Yankees have said that they’re not willing to give up Joba Chamberlain, Ivan Nova, Z-Mac, Banuelos and eating salary. No, I have no new news to report. With other teams balking and Arizona hemorrhaging cash, it makes sense for the Yankees to wait it out and see the asking price drop. So what would you give up to get Haren? Remember, we’re talking the most you’d put toward the center of the table.

There are very good reasons to pursue Haren –he’s a borderline ace/great #2 with a very attractive below-market contract, which would give the team a great second starter, keep Hughes’ inning limit in check, and really hedge their other rotation concerns. No need to rush Andy, and it also limits some lingering concerns about AJ Burnett.

On the other side, Haren really isn’t a need, that’s still around $30 million they’d be adding to payroll, at present it would be a heavy prospect loss, and the addition may adversely impact the pursuit of Cliff Lee.

Before I get to my own personal high offer, let’s first knock down a few points.

Selling Low?

People continue to say the Yankees would be “selling low” on Joba to trade him off when he’s pitching so poorly. Yet, I don’t see it that way. Clearly, his value is high for the Diamondbacks. Their bullpen is remarkably inept. Maybe they overvalue the impact of closers. Whatever the case, if his value now is high enough to be the main piece that gets a top 20 pitcher in baseball (while giving up what appear to be 2 back-end rotation guys, a promising mature lefty in Banuelos), isn’t that enough for Yankee fans? What could Joba get you if you ‘sold high’ on him? He’s going to hit arbitration soon, and for this team he’s been a very mixed bag. Dan Haren is probably the ceiling on what Joba could get you if his value is much higher. And Dan Haren on a team-friendly deal is not a bad thing at all.

Beyond that, as Artisteve at TYU points out, it doesn’t appear the Yankees have much faith in Joba as a starter going forward. From their perspective that’s not unreasonable (though I think they’ve botched the handling along the way, though Joba certainly should be as responsible for his performances; hard to gauge). If you think Dan Haren would be overall more valuable for the team over the next three years than Nova, Joba, Z-Mac, and Banuelos would be, you certainly pull the trigger.

However, there is more to that. I saw a great comment yesterday, one that Moshe Mandel of TYU pointed out. steve (different one) notes that contrary to the belief of some, it’s not that one player holds up the deal, but rather, adding that one additional piece that tips the scales in the wrong direction. Maybe losing Joba isn’t a big deal. Maybe even adding the salary of Haren and giving up Nova is something they’d be willing to do. But an additional piece, an asset they clearly value, like Banuelos or Z-Mac is just too much for them. That asset would be there to offset some kind of other loss, and thus, would be too steep a price for what the team may consider just a luxury. At the same token, you can’t just offer up Nova, Z-Mac and Ramiro Pena and expect them to jump. That porridge is too cold.

The Dollar, Dollar Bills, Y’all

On the financial side, it preliminarily looks like it could work. Financially, the team should have close to $80 million coming off payroll next year. Of course, with Jeter and Mariano, you’re probably looking at $30 million next season in contracts. So we’re down to $50. And even with Haren, you’d still be looking at another pitcher at over $11 million, so we’re down to $24-25 million. (Drop even further if that pitcher next year is Cliff Lee.)

Heard this: It could be Andy's last year. Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP

With the bullpen needing some improvement and the DH situation looking cloudy, in addition to arbitration to Hughes, salary jumps to Teix, Granderson, and Swisher, we’re probably down to around $18 million. Of course, this is all highly dependent on a myriad of factors, but let’s be clear — there is a very good chance that Haren and Lee for around $32 million is a realistic possibility next year. It’s basically Andy, Javy and Kei Igawa being replaced by those two.

But I want it now!

On a personal level, I’d be a bit disappointed if the Yankees didn’t get Haren, even if it’s Joba, Nova, Z-Mac and (gulp) Banuelos. That’s right, push comes to shove, it’s five minutes before the trade deadline, I include Banuelos, Nova, Z-Mac and Joba, while taking on Chris Snyder (I’ll explain in a bit) and the salary of Haren (which is a completely reasonable salary considering his performance). Of course, there’s no reason to bet against oneself, so I suspect the price tag will drop, but I could live with that offer.

Banuelos, to me, is the hardest part of that. While there’s certainly value in back-end starters like Nova and Z-Mac, I don’t have a terrible amount of faith in them, and they have far more value as trade pieces to the Yankees than they do as actual players. Joba, if not given the opportunity and right amount of leash to be a top-flight starter, holds below-average value to the Yankees. I like Joba as a talent, but he may not suit the needs and philosophy of the organization, at least not this year, probably not next year either. Banuelos is a tantilizing talent. A lefty with great poise and very good stuff, he could be a star some day. But he might not be. He’s under 20-years-old and in A-ball. It would be a damn shame to lose him, but there are still a few levels for him to jump and he’s still a “prospect”. Tough to swallow, but if that’s what helps get an established #1.5 starter, I’m willing.

Chris Snyder is an overpaid pseudo-backup catcher, but a fairly good player. He has 15 HR pop, good on-base skills, and is defensively a pretty good catcher. The team could legitimately pair him with Jorge Posada for the rest of the season, who’s missed quite a bit of time to a host of nagging injuries over the past few years. Boom, there’s your DH, even if Jorge does whine about it. If nothing else, limiting the playing time of Francisco Cervelli is a big benefit to the lineup. (Sorry, Blue Eyes.)

D-backs catcher Chris Snyder. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

With Snyder being under contract only through 2011 (albeit with a moderate-sized buyout in 2012), Montero could work as a rotating DH with Jorge. Montero, under this scenario, would be splitting time at catcher with Snyder. Snyder’s gone in 2012, where it seems a good bet Romine would be ready, at least in some capacity. Either way, Snyder (for $5.5 million) may be a little expensive, but a short contract that fills a need and allows a good deal of lineup versatility. Considering the other catchers are either some-glove, no-bat or all-bat, no-glove, I think that’s reasonable, though if they could pay half of that cost, it would be gravy. Hell, trade them Cervelli if they eat some of Snyder’s salary.

Dan Haren would of course slot behind CC and Hughes would return to the bullpen for the remainder of the season. I’ve been extremely pleased with Phil’s performance on a whole this year, but he’s near his innings limit and has had some trouble finishing off batters over the course of the season. With Joba gone, the latter part of the bullpen would appear in much better shape.

Moving to next year, it’s not unreasonable to think a 1-5 of CC, Lee, Haren, Hughes, AJ is possible. Haren may or may not knock Lee’s price down this off-season, and if nothing else, provides some sort of contingency plan if CC decides to opt-out and takes the Yankees on an expensive joyride. Don’t underestimate the closing of the Yankees’ window. Jeter, Mariano, Posada, A-Rod may not have many more very good seasons left. Adding two of the top pitchers for the next few years could do a tremendous amount to strike while they still can.

So having rambled for 1200 words, I ask what, if anything, your max offer for Dan Haren would be? Remember, it needs to be a bit painful. (Unless it’s Betemit and Jeff Marquez for Swisher, of course.)

For more of my incessant chatter, check out Mystique and Aura (though I’ve been busy at work lately and you won’t find much current information to check out. But whatevs, if you’re there, look at Steve’s stuff. He’s a less-neglectful parent).

Dan Haren Rumors: Asking price vs. selling price

As Saturday evening arrives, Dan Haren remains a member of the Diamondbacks, but Arizona’s asking price and the Yanks’ thinking are coming into view. As Frankie Piliere reported earlier today, the D-backs want Joba and “perhaps a guy like [Manny] Banueloes” while the Yankees would prefer to deal Hector Noesi, Ivan Nova or Zach McAllister. Piliere says he can “see this going down to the wire.” The wire is, of course, 4 p.m. next Saturday.

While Sergio Mitre‘s start underscored the Yanks’ need for some pitching depth, the Yanks are under no pressure to make this trade earlier in the week than necessary. The two sides are clearly negotiated, and each knows what the other wants. Now, it’s up to the general managers to make the best trade possible without giving up too much. The rest of us will just have to play the waiting game.

Olney: ‘No conversations’ on Haren today

Update (3:15 p.m.): The Dan Haren saga is getting increasingly more intriguing as Buster Olney chimes in with a few of his patented “Heard This” tweets. The Yankees and Diamondbacks, he says, have had “no conversations” today concerning Haren. Furthermore, the Yankees “scoffed at reports that they were in the lead of the Haren negotiations because they have never been close to completing a deal to this point.” Olney speculated this morning that the D-backs are interested in Joba because they are looking for a closer. Arizona has reportedly asked Detroit for Jacob Turner and Andrew Oliver, two of the Tigers’ top pitching prospects. For what it’s worth, Fox News’ Jon Morosi reported yesterday that the Tigers are one of the teams on Haren’s no-trade list.

Earlier today, Jon Heyman added his own two cents as well. The Yanks, he said, won’t give up Joba Chamberlain and pay all of Haren’s salary. He also said that, in the right deal, the club would pay the salary but wouldn’t take Chad Qualls or Chris Snyder too. Right now, the two clubs are playing a game of poker, and the negotiations will continue.

Stark: Yanks ‘never close’ on Haren

The Dan Haren Saga’s long night’s journey into day continues as Jayson Stark files a missive on ESPN. He says the Yanks and the D-backs were, according to his sources, “never close” to a trade tonight despite rumors to the contrary. The sticking point, it seems, is Joba Chamberlain.

The two teams did swap names Friday, the source said. But the Yankees rejected a Diamondbacks proposal that would have sent Joba Chamberlain, highly regarded pitching prospect Ivan Nova and two other prospects to Arizona for Haren.

The Yankees, instead, have proposed an entirely prospect-based deal, which Arizona rejected. Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall told reporters in Phoenix that other teams had made offers of “at least equal value” to what the Yankees proposed.

Another sticking point between the two teams, the source said, is how much of the $33 million remaining on Haren’s contract the Diamondbacks are willing to pay. Arizona’s initial proposal would have required the Yankees to assume Haren’s entire contract. The Yankees, and other clubs the Diamondbacks have spoken with, want the quality of the players in the deal to be dependent on how much of Haren’s money Arizona is willing to pay.

Earlier in the evening, Arizona team president and CEO Derrick Hall went on the record and echoed Stark’s sources. The Yanks, he said, are not leading the pack. “We are not close on a deal with the Yankees, and there are some other teams involved that have deals of at least equal value out there. I would not categorize the Yankees as a front-runner,” he said.

In terms of Stark’s information, we could debate whether or not Ivan nova is truly “highly regarded” until the cows come home, but if the Yanks didn’t want to trade Joba and Nova plus lesser prospects for Haren, I have to question the wisdom of rejecting such a deal. The Yanks have pigeonholed Joba into the bullpen where he has great peripherals but so-so results. He’s three years into a Major League career and will be arbitration-eligible after this season.

Haren, on the other hand, would immediately become the team’s second best pitcher, and he’s signed to a below-market contract through 2012 with a reasonable team option for 2013. My bet is that, with the Yanks way they seem intent on using Joba, Dan Haren will outperform Joba over the next three seasons. With both players set for free agency after 2013, that calculation should be a large part of the equation.

Our recap of the Yanks’ 7-1 victory over the hapless Kansas City Royals will be published shortly.

Rosenthal: Yanks in the lead for Haren

Update (8:51pm): Piliere hears that talks are “moving forward,” and the teams are discussing secondary pieces. Jesus Montero is not in the deal according to Piliere’s sources, but Joba Chamberlain might be.

7:31pm): Ed Price says that no deal is imminent, but Arizona is determined to trade Haren before his next start on Tuesday. Rosenthal’s updated story says Ivan Nova “fits the profile” of the kind of pitcher the D-Backs want, and Frankie Piliere confirms that he’d be a key piece in a trade. It’s also worth noting that Zach McAllister‘s father works in Arizona’s scouting department, for what it’s worth.

6:29pm: Via Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees have become the front-runners for Dan Haren, with the Diamondbacks informing other interested teams that they are in “advanced negotiations” with one club. Bob Klapisch says GM Brian Cashman is deciding whether or not to pull the trigger. There’s no word on the package that would be going back to Arizona, but Jayson Stark reported earlier today that the Yanks would only get serious about a deal if they could get him for prospects. Arizona is reportedly looking for pitching, pitching, and more pitching in return.

Ben explored the possibility of a Haren trade earlier this afternoon. Stay tuned, people. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Deadline dealing: D-backs listening on Haren

Luis Gonazlez’s RBI single that fell just to the edge of the outfield where Derek Jeter could have caught it had the infield not been in seems like just yesterday to Yankee fans. To the Diamondbacks, though, that moment of glory is long gone. This year’s team, currently 37-59, miles away from first place, is en route to a second consecutive last place finish, and with the trade deadline near, Arizona is holding a very attractive piece in pitcher Dan Haren.

To the uninitiated, Haren might not seem like much. His 7-8 record with a 4.60 ERA is nothing to write about, but those numbers, as they so often don’t, can’t capture the full story. Outside of Roy Oswalt, Haren is the best pitcher still available at the deadline this year. In 141 innings, he has struck out 141 hitters, best in the NL, and he’s walking just under two per nine innings pitched. The home runs have been his bugaboo this year, but even while surrendering 23 longballs, his FIP is still a nifty 3.84 and his xFIP 3.39.

And so, inevitably, many teams are interested in Dan Haren, and Buster Olney just happened to hear this: The Yankees are one of them. Even though Andy Pettitte will probably be out only for a few weeks, targeting Haren makes perfect sense. The right-hander would be a fit for any contender, and the Yankees know that pitching is what will separate the AL champion from the rest of the very competitive pack. The club also realizes that Phil Hughes is facing an innings limit. Haren would give them a plus arm as the innings mount.

Haren, though, will not come cheap. He’s signed through 2012 with a $15.5 million club option for 2013, and he’s set to make only $12.75 million in both 2011 and 2012. In a market where A.J. Burnett and John Lackey can both make upwards of $82 million for five years, Haren’s deal is a downright steal. The Yankees know that; the Diamondbacks know that; any team kicking the tires on Haren knows that.

Once upon a time, Arizona had let it be known that they wanted two Major League pitchers in exchange for Haren, and potential partners let it be know that the D-backs were off their collective rockers. Now, though, the price has come down, but the team still wants an A-plus package. “Ideally what we would ask for is major-league ready pitching, be it starters and/or bullpen, and prospects,” club CEO Derrick Hall said yesterday. “The volume doesn’t matter. It doesn’t need to be four or five or six guys. It’s really about the quality.”

The Yankees match up, and as Jayson Stark said yesterday, the club is quietly letting other teams know they want to make some deals. Currently, says Stark (second item), the Yankees are “actively talking” with Arizona. If the deal “just involves prospects, they appear poised to jump into those talks aggressively.” In fantasyland, the Yankees could try to offer a Hector Noesi, a Romulo Sanchez or an Ivan Nova for Haren, but the realistic trade proposal probably starts with Joba Chamberlain.

Despite nearing arbitration, Joba is still cost-controlled, young and a viable Major League pitcher. He could be a starter; he could be a bullpen guy; he could be both. Depending on the prospects — and it always depends upon the prospects — the Yanks should be willing in a heartbeat to flip Joba in a Haren trade. Maybe that too has an element of fantasy in it, but it’s a fair starting point for both sides.

Any trade for Haren would have a cascade effect on the Yanks’ plans and would probably shift their off-season targets from another pitcher to a bat. With Haren on board, Cliff Lee wouldn’t be as imperative of a pick-up for the club, and it’s debatable if the Yanks would have room for him in their budget. If Andy Pettitte were to return for 2011, a decision that many beat writers have said seems to be an inevitable, the rotation would effectively be full. But I’m getting ahead of the situation a bit.

Today, at least four teams, including the Tigers, Phillies and Cardinals, are very interested in Haren. If the Yankees are serious, they have the pieces to get the deal done, and with the trade deadline eight days away, the speculation will wrong strong until then. Buckle up; it’s time for that wild ride that is late July.