Trades Of The Decade: Mulder For Haren

When a 27-year-old lefty with a history of durability hits the trade market, teams are going to show interest. Mark Mulder had an 81-42 career record and was still two years away from free agency when A's GM Billy Beane made him available five winters ago. 

After losing the World Series, Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty decided to pursue the Oakland lefty. In late December of 2004, Jocketty acquired Mulder for three prospects: Kiko Calero, Daric Barton and Dan Haren. Jocketty told ESPN that he'd acquired a "top of the rotation-type pitcher" and he appeared to have done just that.

Peter Gammons called Mulder "one of the best left-handed starters of his generation," and Kevin Goldstein of Baseball America expected him to "step into the ace role for the Cardinals."

In spite of Mulder's youth, durability and reputation for winning, there were warning signs. As Goldstein pointed out, the A's wondered about Mulder's health when he struggled down the stretch in 2004. And in spite of his lofty win totals, Mulder started walking more batters, allowing more homers and striking out fewer hitters per nine innings in his final season as a member of Oakland's "Big Three."

Haren, who was 24 at the time of the trade, dominated the minor leagues. He had a 3.15 ERA in the minors, striking out nearly a batter per inning and walking very few hitters (1.6BB/9). 

We know what happened from here. After a solid 2005 season, Mulder's shoulder and rotator cuff sidelined him and he hasn't been productive since. The Cards got the rights to one decent year and one poor one, but the deal stands out because they gave up so much.

Calero had a couple productive seasons for the A's and the 24-year-old Barton showed some promise in limited time this season. Haren, the centerpiece of the deal, excelled for the A's during his three-year Bay Area stay. He logged over 200 innings each season and netted the A's Brett Anderson, Carlos Gonzalez, Chris Carter, and others when they traded him to the D'Backs.

A huge win for the A's, but it's easy to see how the Cards were tempted by Mulder and why they were determined to bolster their rotation at all costs.

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2 Comments on "Trades Of The Decade: Mulder For Haren"

5 years 7 months ago

You forgot one important point…..the Cardinals won the World Series in 2006 and won 100 games in 2005, but lost to the Astros in playoffs, so…….even though this trade didn’t exactly pan out as planned, for 2006 the ultimate goal did!

5 years 6 months ago

after all those beast stats as an Athletic, one of the best (and a HOF) writers ever in baseball calls him one of the best of this generation, and i remember people saying he could be one of the last pitchers to reach 300 wins, why wouldnt you want to persue despite those red flags which was only SPECULATION at the time considering this article also said he had a REPUTATION FOR DURABILITY. sure we gave up alot but what did u expect? someone with that type of success and was heralded as a ace and future 300 game winner and one of the best of the generation, u cant get someone like that cheap, i saw haren’s MLB debut start and we won that game and he dominated, sure i would of loved to keep him espcially seeing how his career has panned out now, but the cards had just lost the world series and won a 105 games! we were bent on WINNING RIGHT NOW not development for the long run, our pitching collapsed once carpenter got hurt before the playoffs that year, we went out and got a “ace” pitcher to team with carpenter and so we would have a SOLIDIFIED ace to step in incase carpenter went down again. AT THAT TIME, who would u have taken? a promising prospect who yes, dominated the minors, but did not know how he would pan out too? or a guy who averaged 20 wins a year in the American League and thought to become one of the best ever? his won “decent” year was 17-8? thats above decent if u asked me and i bet all writers were praising the cardinals then for making such a great trade! then unfortunately its a shame someone so classy and good fell to the evil of injuries and lost his career. we couldnt have predicted that based on only speculation of possible problems for a guy known for durability at the time. after that 17-8 season who wouldve thought injuries would destroy him? i look back now and im not mad at the cards or regret the cards making that move, if you all were walt AT THAT TIME looking at this trade, its ignorant to say you wouldnt have made the move too given all that u only knew AT THAT TIME. regardless Haren has pitched well but hasnt won the title and the cards went on to win the world series in 2006 despite mulders struggles and we are gonna win the world series this year! shouldve last year too.