Monday, November 5, 2012

Parsing the Dan Haren non-trade

Dan Haren has been a
workhorse starter since cracking
the A's rotation in 2005.
There are 30 teams in the major leagues.

None of them wanted Dan Haren. Or, more precisely, none of them wanted Haren and his contract.

Start here: Haren is, when healthy, a very good pitcher. Durability is a big part of that. The 32-year-old right-hander has been in major league rotations for eight seasons, and he's never failed to make at least 30 starts. 2012 was the first time he's failed to work more than 215 innings.

He missed by quite a bit this year, however -- 176 innings, less than six innings a start. He hit the disabled list for the first time in his career and his velocity dropped. He's only 32, but there the mileage on his right arm is pretty high.

The Angels of Anaheim held an option on him for 2013 -- $15.5 million to pitch, $3.5 million to buy him out. The Angels front office decided they wanted out. They spent much of last week trying to find takers for Haren and for Ervin Santana, who had a similar but slightly lower-priced arrangement. (Santana has always been a lesser pitcher than Haren.)

The Angels traded Santana to Kansas City for a 27-year-old Triple A lefty reliever —which is to say, a nonprospect. They never came up with a deal for Haren.

So the Angels decided at Friday night's deadline to pay Haren $3.5 million to go away. He's now a free agent, and the Angels are $12 million ahead financially.

Now, imagine that the Twins had offered them a minor league nonprospect for him — let us say Daniel Turpen, a Double-A reliever who isn't on the 40-man roster. The Angels would have saved the full $15.5 million, and they'd have a minor league arm. They'd have taken that deal over nothing.

But the Twins didn't go that route. Even the 2012 version of Haren, the one with declining stuff and physical ailments, was better than anybody the Twins started except Scott Diamond, but the Twins didn't want him.

Maybe they're wary of Haren's medicals. Maybe $15.5 million is more than they want to put into any one pitcher this offseason. Probably both considerations were factors.

Not just for the Twins, but for 29 other teams. The Angels, who know Haren better than anybody, didn't want him. Nobody else traded for him. It will be interesting to see what Haren's market looks like this winter.

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