Arizona gets three pitchers for Haren
Saunders, Rodriguez, Corbin headed to D-backs from Angels
PHOENIX -- The D-backs were seeking an "A-plus" deal for starting pitcher Dan Haren, so they must have gauged their Sunday haul from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to at least approach that grade level.
In addition to acquiring left-handed starter Joe Saunders for Haren, Arizona also received Minor League reliever Rafael Rodriguez and starter Patrick Corbin along with a player to be named later plucked from a pool of options the two clubs have discussed.
"[Saunders] brings an element to our club that I think we need," said interim general manager Jerry Dipoto of his first trade at the helm. "The prospects involved in the deal bring us talent that we need to build with and therefore I felt like this deal checked a lot of boxes for the Arizona Diamondbacks."
Haren's immediate fill-in is Saunders, an All-Star in 2008, who was 54-32 in six Major League seasons with the Angels. Over the previous two years, he went 33-14, a mark only superceded by Roy Halladay.
Dipoto said his scouting staff believed there was no drop-off in Saunders' stuff -- baseball-speak for a hurler's repertoire or quality of pitches -- despite his numbers being down this season: He is 6-10 with a 4.52 ERA in 20 starts.
Saunders, a resident of Chandler, Ariz., will join the D-backs on Tuesday and pitch Thursday in Philadelphia. Rodrigo Lopez is likely to take Haren's spot on Tuesday, with Edwin Jackson throwing on Wednesday. Rest won't be an issue with the D-backs idle Monday. Interim manager Kirk Gibson, who would normally confirm the rotation order, declined to speak about Haren's exit and Saunders' arrival, citing the trade's incompletion at the level of the Commissioner's Office.
Pecuniary issues obviously played a part in the exchange: Haren will be compensated $12.75 million over each of the next two seasons and has a $15.5 million club option in 2013, while Saunders is due to make $3.7 million in 2010, though his salary will jump, too, in arbitration going forward.
"We were able to create a better balance and flexibility in the way our dollars have been allocated on our Major League payroll in order to better tend to the different holes that might exist on the club as it stands today," said Dipoto, who wouldn't rule out making more moves prior to the July 31st non-waiver Trade Deadline. "There's no getting around that Dan Haren made more money that Joe Saunders this year."
The Minor Leaguers sent to Arizona earn much less money but could be as significant on the field, if not this season then in the future.
"What we wanted to address with any move that we have made," Dipoto said, "was to take our club today and connect with our prospects for tomorrow, and it's something we grossly needed." So beyond Saunders, what could that future look like?
Rodriguez, 25, is a right-handed reliever who pitched in 18 games in his first Major League stint with the Angels in 2009. He also made a June 14 appearance this season, though he spent much of it at Triple-A Salt Lake, where he was 5-3 with a 3.04 ERA with 10 saves in 50 1/3 innings.
Dipoto said Rodriguez, who throws an above-average fastball, will begin his Arizona tenure at Triple-A Reno, though a callup may not be far along, as the D-backs have the Majors' worst 'pen, statistically speaking.
"We feel like he can step in at any moment and help our bullpen," Dipoto said. "Whether that's the seventh, eighth or ninth member right now remains to be seen."
The 21-year-old Corbin is a left-handed Class A starter who is a year or two further away from joining the big league club. The Angels selected him in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft's second round.
Dipoto said the organization's interest in him during last year's Draft has only heightened since: Corbin was 13-3 with a 3.87 ERA in 20 starts between two Minor League stops. He will report to Class A Visalia in the D-backs' ranks.
"He's a development prospect right now," Dipoto said, adding that Corbin's fastball is above average and that his changeup and breaking pitches are advanced for his age. "We feel excited about his upside."
How did the trade grade out in Haren's mind?
"I've been traded for a group of prospects that have worked out, too," said Haren, who netted six D-backs prospects for the A's in December 2007. "Carlos Gonzalez, he is pretty good. A bunch of those guys are good. I hope it works out for both sides, really."
Andrew Pentis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.