Diamondbacks interim GM Jerry Dipoto recently told CBS' Scott Miller, "We're not to the point right now where we're aggressively seeking [a Dan Haren trade]." Still, it's time for us to summarize the Haren situation.
Haren signed a four-year, $44.75MM extension in August of 2008 under previous GM Josh Byrnes. He has $3.45MM left this year, $12.75MM in 2011, $12.75MM in '12, and a $15.5MM club option for '13 with a $3.5MM buyout. In other words, Haren is guaranteed $32.45MM through 2012. If Haren had never signed the extension and hit free agency after this year at age 30, would he top two years, $29MM plus a club option? His next dozen starts are a factor, and maybe in this cautious time he wouldn't reach John Lackey money. But I still view the contract as a bargain relative to the free agent market.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported this weekend that Haren's no-trade clause allows him to block trades to a dozen teams, including the Reds. Rosenthal's source did not feel that Haren's no-trade list would be a factor, however.
Home runs and hits allowed are up this year for Haren, who has a 4.60 ERA through 20 starts. Though Haren's groundball rate is down a touch, his continually strong strikeout and walk rates suggest a pitcher capable of a sub-4.00 ERA from here on out. Since 2006, Haren has posted significantly higher ERAs in the second half. Is this a reliable trend? Haren's home run per flyball rate seems to jump every August. This could be a fluke – the Sabermetrics Library says home run per flyball rates "have little predictive value" year to year. It doesn't help that Chase Field inflates home runs by about 7%, according to The Bill James Handbook.
We have no trade history for Dipoto, as he's been a GM for less than a month. He told Miller he's not sure if trading Haren is smart business, but "what we do know is what value Dan brings to this team and what value he should hold in the market." All things considered, Haren is probably the best available starting pitcher. SI's Jon Heyman talked to one GM who described Dipoto's asking price as "two starters plus bullpen help." Earlier this month, Rosenthal and Bob Nightengale of USA Today both said the D'Backs would need to be "overwhelmed" or "blown away" to trade Haren. Dipoto was upfront to Miller about his reservations, saying "you might bite off your nose to spite your face" by trading the ace.
- Tigers: Miller says they "appeared to be the only club with a scout dispatched solely to bird-dog Haren" Friday night. Back in May I noted that the Tigers should have over $50MM to play with for 2011 if they hold payroll steady, so they could afford Haren. The Tigers have plenty of young starters that would appeal to the D'Backs.
- Cardinals: Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Cards have interest in bringing Haren back and do have payroll capacity. Still, they'd be committing half their payroll to the rotation in 2011.
- Rockies: Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post doesn't feel that they'd overpay for Haren.
- Yankees: A case could be made for the Yanks adding Haren. However, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that their top two priorities are improving the bench and adding a reliever.
- Phillies: ESPN's Jerry Crasnick said they have Haren on the radar, though David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News wondered if they'd even have the prospects to pull it off.
- Nationals: MLB.com's Bill Ladson reported on June 30th that they had expressed interest. GM Mike Rizzo craves "premier, front-line starting pitching." With Haren, the Nats would have a fearsome rotation in short order.
- Angels: Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times finds Haren to be "a natural trade target" for the Halos.
- I imagine other clubs would be interested. In my opinion, the White Sox, Brewers, Twins, Mets, and Padres could be fits, though the field becomes limited when you consider Arizona's asking price.