Friday, November 2, 2012

Instant Trade Analysis: Dan Haren to the Chicago Cubs

(Editor's note: This trade was consummated last night....for about two hours. The Cubs pulled out of the deal late, and as a result, Haren was still an Angel...for another hour. 

The deadline for Anaheim GM Jerry DiPoto to exercise a $15.5 million dollar option for Haren's 2013 season was 9pm PT, and thus the mad rush to try and trade him. However, after such a poor 2012 and a very expensive price tag, DiPoto declined and thus, the right-handed pitcher is now a free agent and could leave the Halos for nothing. Even for as badly as Anaheim wanted to trade him, ironically Haren becomes one of the biggest free agents on the 2012 winter market

But this was a pretty sweet trade analysis post. Take a look into an alternate reality where this happened)

Anaheim Angels get: RP Carlos Marmol

Chicago Cubs get: SP Dan Haren

A little less than a year ago the Los Angeles Angels appeared to be the front-runners for the American League pennant. And that was before they traded for a 28-year-old former Cy Young Award winner and before we knew that they had the best 20-year-old ever to play the game.

Once again though in the beautiful world of sports we found out that’s why they play the game. Josh Reddick and the Oakland A’s took the AL West division crown and Albert Pujols watched his old team come within one game of going back to the World Series without him. Pujols, Mike Trout and the Angels will certainly not be taken lightly again next year, but if they could not win with Dan Haren, it’s hard to see how they get better without him.

Even with a down year, Dan Haren was valuable to the Angels. His ERA was a quarter of a run higher than league average, but he has had rough years and bounced back before. The year he was originally traded to the Angels back in 2010 his ERA was actually very close to the league average. His strikeout to walk rate would indicate that nothing is too wrong with his efficiency. Again it was just a slightly down year, but the Angels had to make a decision.

They already are paying C.J. Wilson $11 million next season and $16 million after that...and then still money for another two years after that. Jered Weaver will make $17 million per year the next couple of seasons. Arte Moreno has deep pockets, but there’s a limit to everything.  Haren was due $15.5 million if the Angels picked up his option for this season. With Zack Greinke a free agent right now, the Angels apparently had to make a choice and they are rolling the dice on Greinke. If no money is exchanged (and the report is that this is a straight swap) the Angels will wind up saving about $6 million for this season.

On the other end of this trade, Theo Epstein and the Cubs got an amazing deal. There is a reason that the Cubs have had to turn to players like Rafael Dolis and James Russell in save situations; Carlos Marmol has been prone to horrible runs of inconsistency with finding the strike zone. In a city that doesn’t need another reason to lose faith the last thing they need to see to start a ninth inning is a Marmol free pass. It happened all too often last year as the once Cubs closer walked more batters per inning than anyone on the team (minimum 25 innings pitched). The fact is that Marmol’s potentially dominant arm in the pen is potentially very easy to fix. There are players like Jose Valverde, Rafael Soriano, and Jonathan Broxton on the market. Nobody that will have you jump out of your seat, but you can make a case that any of them are as good or better than Marmol.

Now the Cubs still have a ways to go, but if Haren can regain his form from 2011, he, Matt Garza and Jeff Samardizija would form a top of the rotation that rivals the Reds or Cardinals. The rest of the team isn't very impressive, namely the offense, but three very strong starters and a decent enough 'pen could be enough to win a division. Don't forget, this is still a major market team that could spend big bucks this winter if they felt that they were close to competing. Best case scenario? They extend Haren mid-season, as well as Garza, and now you have two game-changing pitchers in their early-thirties on your roster.

But let's be honest - the Cubs probably aren't competing next year. Haren, Worst case scenario (and I do see this happening), Chicago could flip Haren at the trade deadline for prospects, which could be as good, if not better than what they could have potentially dealt Marmol for. In essence, the Cubs decided that whatever they could get back for Haren was better than they could get for Marmol.

I do not foresee a way in which this trade is not a win for the Cubs. The Angels will certainly get more help in their bullpen, but those arms are much cheaper and easier to find than starters of Haren’s caliber. 

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