I wanted to write a FanPost about Haren's trade rumors seeing as what we decide to do with him essentially defines the Front Office's plans for the next couple of years. I think the general opinion is that if Haren is traded, we will be tanking next year, and aiming to compete in 2012. We would thus probably not rush Jarrod Parker's return from Tommy John, and hope he can be a top of the rotation ace in 2012.
MLBTradeRumors posted a report today that highlighted Haren's suitors. The biggest pursuers appear to the Phillies, Nationals, and Cardinals, with the Yankees, Tigers, and Twins also showing interest.
Disclaimer: The following is just my own opinion on these potential trades. If there is anything anyone else has heard or wish to add feel free.
Phillies: Clearly, if we traded Haren to the Phillies we'd want Domonic Brown in return. However, the Phillies didn't want to give up Brown for Halladay or Lee, so it's not clear exactly why they would be willing to give up Brown for Haren. And while an outfield of Brown, Young, and Upton for the next few years would be extremely exciting, our FO has expressed that we want young pitching depth. Brown doesn't help there, and the Phillies don't have much to offer. After Drabek was traded for Halladay, their minor league pitching become bare. The pieces they got back from the Mariners for Lee have been disappointing. Aumont has put up an ERA of 7.01 at two different levels with a K:BB ratio of basically 1:1. Ramirez has been similarly unspectacular.
Nationals: The Nationals have four prospects (if you don't include Bryce Harper, who we're not getting). Here's the problem. We probably aren't interested in the catcher Derek Norris. Ian Desmond hasn't shown he'll be an elite shortstop at the major league level this year. That leaves Strasburg and Storen. Only Steve Phillips would trade away Strasburg (and that's assuming he realizes Haren is a better pitcher than Oswalt) which means that the best the Nationals could offer is Storen, a relief pitcher.
Cardinals: They have some interesting names. Four arms that we might be interested in: Jaime Garcia, Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn, Eduardo Sanchez. Jaime Garcia is probably off limits, since he's shown a lot of success in the majors, and the whole point in getting Haren is for the Cardinals to have SP depth. They aren't going to give up one of their good SP for another SP. Shelby Miller was considered a better prospect than Jaime Garcia at one point this year, however he's scuffled a bit in low-A. Yet, even though his ERA is a mediocre 4.67, his K:BB ratio is 60:17, all in 44 innings pitched. He was a first round pick last year, only 20 years old, so we might be interested in him (though these are all reasons why the Cardinals probably wouldn't want to offer him). Lance Lynn was also considered a better prospect than Jaime Garcia at one point this year, but he's had a terrible time in AAA, with an ERA of 5.79. The thing is, Lynn has dominated every level in the minor leagues prior to this year, and was also a supplemental first round pick. If the FO thinks this year was a fluke, then we might ask for him in a trade. Finally there is Eduardo Sanchez. He's a relief pitcher who just reached AAA this year, but he has also dominated every level in the minors so far, with great K/9 and BB/9 ratios. We'll want him as part of a package if we traded Haren to the Cardinals.
Twins: I'd be interested in Kyle Gibson, but I doubt the Twins would want to give him up. He's a first round pick from last year that the Twins are fast-tracking to the majors, as he's already in AA. This year, across two levels in the minors, he has a 2.97 ERA, a K:BB ratio of 82:28 in 97 innings pitched, and an incredible 2.72 GB/FB ratio.
Tigers: The top two arms in their system are Casey Crosby and Jacob Turner (though Porcello has just been sent down). Crosby is supposed to be an immensely talented pitcher that got derailed by Tommy John surgery shortly after he was drafted in 2007, and is only just working his way back. He's only pitched at the lower levels in the minor leagues thus far. Last year he pitched 105 innings and struck out 117 batters. However, he also issued 48 walks. Jacob Turner is another young pitcher. Drafted last year in the first round, he's currently at Hi-A and has pitched fairly well. He has great control. In 58 innings between two levels, he's only issued 9 walks while striking out 55. He is a flyball pitcher though, who will give up home runs.
Yankees: They have Zach McAllister, Manny Banuelos, and Mark Melancon. McAllister has struggled a little in AAA with a 4.24 ERA. His peripherals aren't spectacular either, with a K:BB ratio of 52:20 in 85 innings. His strikeout to walk ratio and his groundball rate have continuously decreased the last couple of years. McAllister is the son of a Dbacks scout though. Banuelos has put up great numbers and is currently in Hi-A. But for some reason, he hasn't pitched very much. I think he's coming back from an injury. He's incredibly young (19 years old), and so unlikely to be traded. Melancon is currently a AAA relief pitcher with great numbers as well. Over the course of the minor leagues, he's struck out one per inning, though his walks are a little bit higher than ideal. He's also a groundball pitcher, with ratio of 2.8 that past couple of years. We would want him in a package.
Based on all of this, I believe trading Haren would be unlikely (and probably a mistake). Teams aren't going to give up high upside young prospects for Haren. And those young pitchers wouldn't even be our first priority, as we have plenty of high upside arms in the low minors. This scratches out the Twins and Tigers as potential destinations for Haren. The Nationals don't really have anyone to offer outside of Storen that should excite us. Though, the Nationals appear interested in Edwin Jackson as well, so maybe we could package a deal to send Jackson over to the Nationals and get Storen and maybe a couple of other relief arms/projects. The Phillies could offer Brown for Haren, at which point I think our FO would seriously have to consider trading Haren. A cheap Brown for six years would be worth much more than an expensive Haren for two.
However, the Phillies won't do that unless they are committed to resigning Werth (which would be expensive and thus make it more difficult for them to handle Haren's contract). That leaves the Yankees and Cardinals. A trade with the Yankees for a package including McAllister and Melancon is just not good enough in my mind for Haren, mostly because I don't see McAllister panning out in the majors. We'd be selling low on Haren. And I'd kill myself if Haren ever played for the Yankees. The Cardinals probably wouldn't want to give up Miller, which means a trade with them would probably consist of a package involving Lynn and Sanchez. That could potentially work out well for us in the long run, but it's definitely an iffy proposition as Lynn has struggled a lot this year. We'd have to be sure that Lynn's current slump this year is a fluke.