Jeff Passan on the deal that may have set the Diamondbacks back years in their rebuilding process:
The Angels depantsed the Arizona Diamondbacks. They stole Dan Haren in a trade and left the directionless D’backs naked and with nowhere to hide. First, Arizona panicked by firing general manager Josh Byrnes earlier this season. Now, with suitors from coast to coast putting together packages for Haren, they jumped at one centering around Joe Saunders.
Again, just for giggles: Twenty-nine year-old Dan Haren, one of the 10 best pitchers in baseball entering this season, and still an ace, for Joe Saunders.
OK, so there are a few kids involved, too: Twenty-one year-old left-hander Pat Corbin, 26-year-old reliever Rafael Rodriguez and a player to be named later who could be 19-year-old lefty Tyler Skaggs. No can’t miss prospects. No top-of-the-line major league players. Just Saunders, his miserable strikeout rate and a lot of dreaming.
Passan cleverly reviews the players exchanged when the Diamondbacks traded for Haren less than three years ago. Then, they gave up a platoon of top prospects: Brett Anderson, Carlos Gonzalez, Chris Carter, Aaron Cunningham and Dana Eveland.
Now, there's a real good reason why Haren's not worth as much now as he was then. Then, he was a durable All-Star under team control for three years and $16 million. Now, he's a durable All-Star under team control for three years and $41 million.
That difference of $25 million is why the Diamondbacks couldn't get nearly the haul the Athletics got, three years ago.
Still, someone seems to have messed up here. If Joe Saunders plus some (relatively) unheralded prospects was the best the Diamondbacks could do, 1) they should have just kept Haren until they could get more for him, and 2) a bunch of other teams looking for a good starting pitcher really, really messed up by not offering the Diamondbacks a more attractive package than the Angels.
My guess? Diamondbacks management simply overrated Joe Saunders -- perhaps because of his 54-32 career record -- and, especially, the three minor leaguers in the deal. I'm sure they've got a bunch of bright people working there. But it would be odd if they were so right about this deal and everyone else were so wrong.