Dan Haren traded to Los Angeles Angels for Joe Saunders and three prospects

It has just been announced that Dan Haren has been traded to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for for Joe Saunders, Patrick Corbin, Rafael Rodriguez and a player to be named.

Joe Saunders is a left-handed starting pitcher, with a career ERA+ of 104, who is arbitration-eligible for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Patrick Corbin is another lefty, currently starting for the Angels High-A affiliate - he only turned 21 last week. Rafael Rodriguez is a right-handed reliever, who has only thrown 32.2 innings in the majors. Nick Piecoro just tweeted "Told the player to be named in the deal is a top prospect..."

Details after the jump.

Joe Saunders was a first-round pick by the Angels in 2002. He made his debut with them in 2005 and has been a mainstay of their rotation since the second-half of 2007. In 115 starts with LAA, he has a record of 54-32, and and an ERA of 4.29. His best season was 2008, when Saunders went 17-7, and posted a 3.41 ERA. However, he has struggled this season, going 6-10, though his ERA of 4.62 is not too much higher than it was last year - his FIP is actually better, at 4.70. He's not a massive strikeout guy, averaging 5.10 strikeouts per nine innings, with walks around the three mark.

Contract wise, this was his first year of eligibility for arbitration, but the Angels avoided that by agreeing with him on a one-year contract worth $3.7 million. He was initially probably the #2 guy in the LAA rotation, and is the same age as Haren, 29 (about nine months younger than Dan, to be precise). However, his overall numbers are largely because he struggled out of the gate, posting a 7.04 ERA in the first six starts of the season. Saunders has turned it around a bit since: over the fourteen starts since that point, he has a 3.80 ERA.

Rafael Rodriguez got signed by the Angels as an amateur free-agent in 2001. He has been in Triple-A for most of the time since 2008, and has a 3.10 ERA in 68 relief appearances there. His K:BB ratio is about 2:1, in 98.2 innings of work. Rodriguez struggled a bit when called up to the majors last season, allowing 19 earned runs in 30.2 frames with the Angels, a 5.58 ERA. He struck out ten and walked nine. Rodriguez is, however, still quite young - he won't turn 26 until September.

It will be interesting to see how the roster situation shakes down with regard to these two players. Obviously, Saunders can replace Haren, but we will need to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Rodriguez and, if he is going to be with the team, on the major-league roster too. I suspect this will not be the case, with Rodriguez being more likely to go down to Triple-A Reno. The 40-man, as shown, still has Clay Zavada on it, which surprises me, as I thought he had Tommy John surgery, and would be on the DL. We'll see how that works out.

Patrick Corbin was rated the Angels #22 prospect by Halo's Heaven, and they said at the start of the season, "With three promising pitches, he profiles as a mid to back of the rotation starter down the road, but is still a long, long ways away." You can view scouting video of Corbin here. He struggled a bit in his pro debut, allowing 26 earned runs over 46.1 innings of rookie-ball, but seems to have improved this season. His ERAs at A and High-A levels have been very similar - 3.86 and 3.88 respectively - however, his K-rates have improved at the higher grade, with Corbin fanning 64 in 60.1 innings there, with only 18 walks.

On the player to be named later, Nick Piecoro is reporting it's not Mike Trout - the Diamondbacks apparently have a list from which they can pick, though we're not sure when the choice has to be made. Piecoro reckons that left-handed pitcher Tyler Skaggs would make sense, saying Arizona "were close to drafting him last year." It would make sense he would be a PTBNL, because players can't be dealt for their first year in an organization, and Skaggs was not signed by Anaheim until August.

If it is him, Skaggs turned 19 last month, and was the overall fortieth pick in the 2009 draft. He has been mostly a starter in A-ball for the Angels, and has a 3.61 ERA over 82.1 innings. Skaggs has struck out fractionally less than one batter per frame this season, with a K:BB ratio around 4:1. When Halos Heaven wrote about Skaggs in February, he was rated the #9 prospect in the system, they compared him to the A's Brett Anderson, and said "He's got the stuff and projection to have a very good chance of winding up as a mid-rotation starter, even if his ceiling lowers in coming seasons."

 


 

There are your basic facts. Now comes the opinion. :-) I am pretty much in agreement with Nick Piecoro, who tweeted, "I’m withholding judgment on this deal until we see who is the PTBNL is and what the Diamondbacks do with the money they saved." At the moment, the Angels definitely got the better end of the trade, with an ace for the rotation, in exchange for a pitcher who, like Haren, has been struggling, but has not been as good overall, a fringe reliever and a prospect with potential, but who probably won't be any help until 2013 or so.

There's no doubt that this is, to some extent, a salary dump, with Haren due to make $12.75m in 2011 and 2012, with a $15.5m team option (or a $3.5m buyout) for 2013 - there is no indication the Diamondbacks are paying any of Haren's salary. Assuming Saunders gets about $5m next season, will the team spend the difference - perhaps on a free-agent closer - or simply reduce payroll? The 2011 rotation would now seem to be Ian Kennedy, Edwin Jackson, Saunders, Barry Enright and perhaps Jarrod Parker: while lacking an obvious "ace," would seem to be pretty solid from top to bottom.

However, in the absence of other moves, it's very hard to see the current 100-loss team competing in 2011 with Saunders replacing Haren - even a die-hard optimist such as myself is now basically writing off that season as a lost cause. I think we may be better saved by investing the savings, getting rid of some deferred debt or perhaps putting it towards signing our two high draft-picks next June.

One thing that surprised me was that the news was basically broken by the TV broadcast this afternoon. When Daron Sutton said just before going to commercial break that there was "big news" on the trade-front, I was thinking it was going to be some lame stunt involving the Legends Race - we traded Grace for Teddy Roosevelt or something like that. But it was a genuine scoop - one entirely missed by the entire Twitterverse. Sometimes old-school media still wins!

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