When the Diamondbacks were swindled by Billy Beane of the Oakland A’s on December 14, 2007, they traded six promising players for the right to the then one-time All Star.
Except for a mediocre 2010 campaign thus far, there is no doubt that Haren is a pretty good pitcher, with ERA’s in the low 3.00’s his first two seasons in the desert and his final one in Oakland.
He also is durable. Haren has started 33 or 34 games each of the last five seasons, averaging over 220 innings pitched over that span. He also increased his innings total by 43 innings from age 23 to 24 with no problem. Doesn’t look like the Verducci Effect worked here.
Swindled is a bad word as the D’Backs thought they were obtaining Haren to form a dynamic duo a the top of the rotation with former Cy Young award winner Brandon Webb. But Webb’s shoulder injury, and some inconsistent play from their young players such as Chris Young, Mark Reynolds and Justin Upton, have left the D’backs mired in last place for two straight seasons in the National League Western Division.
There are many teams interested in the big right-handed thrower, and with the D’Backs having new management, they probably would like to move Haren’s contract. That long-term deal runs through 2012 plus an option, for at least $12.5 M plus per year.
But the D’Backs have to realize that times have changed over the last 2.5 years since the Haren trade with Oakland. Teams value their top prospects exponentially more now, and you will not see teams giving up multiple top picks in trade deadline deals.
Or even Winter Meeting trades.
So the D’Backs new GM Jerry DiPoto, needs to come down off his demand of two major league ready starting pitchers and a major league ready relief pitcher.
That is just much in today’s market. With the absence of performance enhancing drugs the game has changed from being homer heavy to more pitching and defense oriented. Players who have those skills are widely coveted and organizations are loathe to dish out these types of top prospects for an established star.
Even if that star has been one of the top pitchers in the game over the last five seasons.
So the D’Backs need to realize they can’t get back what they gave up for Haren three seasons ago. If they believe that former ace Webb can return from his shoulder issues and return to form, then he and Haren can finally make that great one-two punch at the top of the rotation.
That is a big IF, however, and even then would the D’Backs have enough to compete in the competitive National League West?
If not, then it might be best for the D’Backs to cut Haren’s salary out now at the trading deadline when teams are eager to make a move. They can play their young players and start the rebuilding process again with young talent.
Unless the teams believes it can get much more in the off-season when all teams seemingly are pennant contenders.
But based upon current trends, I doubt it.