I'm having a hard time believing this was all the market would give up for Dan Haren. Were three bodies, a player to be named later (believed to be Tyler Skaggs, though it's not a lock) plus salary relief really the going price for a pitcher who rated among the top five in the NL last season, was reasonably compensated and was suffering from a lot of bad luck this season?
The Angels may be too far back to catch Texas this year, but they've set themselves up very well for a 2011 season in which they'll have Kendry Morales back and healthy and Texas will likely be without the services of Cliff Lee.
Haren is a workhorse, good for nearly 1,100 innings over the last five years and 168 starts, with declining walk totals and increasing strikeout rates. He'll work with four pitches, commanding a solid-average fastball and using it to set up an above-average splitter that seems to play up because he makes it look so much like his fastball out of his hand. His main problem this year, aside from bad defense behind him, has been giving up too many home runs. However, he's moving from a good home run park to a terrible one; his FIP (fielding-independent pitching, normalizing his rate of hits allowed on balls in play) is 3.91, and his xFIP (normalizing his rate of home runs per fly balls allowed) sits at just 3.38. Whether or not Haren helps the Angels to the playoffs this year, he helps them for the next three years (assuming they pick up his 2013 option), and they gained long-term value through the transaction.
Joe Saunders is what he is -- a mediocre, back-end starter whose stuff should miss more bats but doesn't. I've seen him throw three above-average pitches in the past, but poor strikeout rates have left him with below-average results for the past year and a half (since his fluky-good 2008) and he's a fly ball pitcher now headed to the easier league but to a good home run park. Worst of all, he'll hit free agency a year before Haren will.
Pat Corbin is a skinny left-handed starter with age on his side (he's 20) but who has questions about whether his frame will really support the additional bulk that would lead to durability or increased velocity, and so far he hasn't shown the ability to miss a lot of bats or generate a lot of ground balls that you'd like to see in a starting pitching prospect.
He projects as a back-of-the-rotation guy if he can put on some (good) weight as he gets into his 20s, but the median projection now would be a swingman/reliever, and that's assuming that he successfully reaches the majors from high-A without getting hurt or regressing.
I've talked to a few sources in other front offices not involved in the deal, and the unanimous response is that this is a great deal for the Angels and a bad one for Arizona.
Rafael Rodriguez is an up-and-down guy in a major league bullpen who throws strikes, but doesn't miss bats with an average fastball/just-above-average slider combo. Rodriguez was also suspended by the Angels in 2008 for violating an unspecified club policy. It's just not enough of a return for a healthy, premium arm who's signed to a long, reasonable contract.
Regarding Skaggs, Arizona was considering taking him with one of its first-round picks in 2009 and he's had a very strong full-season debut this year for Cedar Rapids. That would make the deal better for Arizona, but not good. I also imagine this just torched any possibility of Zack Greinke being traded as it sets a very low price in the trade market, and it can't help the Astros' efforts to get a big return for Roy Oswalt.
I've talked to a few sources in other front offices not involved in the deal, and the unanimous response is that this is a great deal for the Angels and a bad one for Arizona. Bottom line here is that Arizona traded three and a half years of affordable control of a very good starting pitcher, potentially an ace, for a limited return in players. Salary relief is nice, but good, young players are better.