There were numerous rumors that the Angels were considering trading pitchers Ervin Santana and Dan Haren this offseason. One half of that rumor was proved correct yesterday, when Ervin Santana was traded to the Kansas City Royals along with $1 million for minor league LHP Brandon Sisk. I have no problem with the fact that the Indians missed out on this one. Despite Santana’s no-hitter in Cleveland in 2011, he’s a pretty erratic and unpredictable pitcher in the mold of Ubaldo Jimenez and Roberto Hernandez. The other half of that rumor, a trade of Dan Haren, has yet to come to fruition. There are rumors that if the Angels plan to move on a deal, they plan to move soon. Haren has a $15.5 million option for 2013 that must be exercised or declined by Friday night (it also includes a $3.5 million buyout). Could the Angels and Indians match up on a trade? Could Dan Haren fit in Cleveland?
Haren had a bit of an off year in 2012, compared to his normal performance. He went 12-13 with a 4.33 ERA and 1.291 WHIP in 176.2 innings pitched; his career average ERA is 3.66 and his career WHIP is 1.181. Despite Haren’s elevated 2012 numbers, his ERA would still be second lowest among all Indians starters, behind just Zach McAllister. Haren has had some problems with injuries, but he’s still more reliable than most of the Tribe’s 2012 starting rotation. This wouldn’t be the first time that the Indians were connected to Dan Haren via trade rumors. There were also rumors following the 2007 season that the Indians attempted to add Haren before he was traded from Oakland to Arizona. Supposedly the Athletics were interested in Asdrubal Cabrera and/or Adam Miller. It made sense to hang onto Miller at the time; I don’t think anyone realized the problems that would develop with his pitching hand.
The Angels are looking to clear salary space beyond trading Haren and Santana. They would also like to find someone to take the albatross of Vernon Wells, the bad contract the Angels inherited from the Toronto Blue Jays when they sent Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera north of the border. Wells is owed $21 million in 2013, and is owed the same amount in 2014. The Angels can’t expect to receive anything of value for Wells, and I find it hard to believe that anyone would even consider a deal without the Angels eating a large amount of salary. Wells hit just .230/.279/.403 with 11 home runs in 2012, but he is a right-handed bat. Another right-handed bat with the Angels, that may be able to be pried loose, is Peter Bourjos. He hit .220/.291/.315 with 3 home runs in just 168 at-bats in 2012, but hit .271/.327/.438 with 12 home runs in 502 at-bats in 2011. He’s turned into a spare bat in Anaheim, but could find regular playing time in Cleveland. The Angels may want to wait to see if they are able to negotiate with Torii Hunter before they trade away any outfielders. Buster Olney mentioned that the Indians and the Angels could match up on a deal, since the Indians could use an outfielder and the Angels could use bullpen help.
Speaking of bullpen help…any deal with the Angels may include Chris Perez. His name, along with Shin-Soo Choo, will probably be mentioned the most as trade bait this offseason. I’m relatively indifferent in regards to a trade that involes Perez; despite all of the drama he tends to create, I don’t dislike him. At the same time, Vinnie Pestano could probably step in and close games at this point, making him expendable. The only reason I wasn’t really behind a Perez trade last winter, was due to the fact that the closer market was pretty saturated. It seemed like the Indians would be able to get a better deal at a future date. The Dodgers just signed Brandon League to a three-year, $22.5 million deal. I know that the Dodgers love to spend money, but I can’t believe that League is worth that sum. Could this mean that it’s a sellers market for closers this winter? Rafael Soriano just opted out of his deal with the New York Yankees, and is said to be seeking a four-year deal. Perez could be a low-cost option for some teams and a trade may help the Indians fill a hole or two.
So would any of this be a good idea? Should the Indians make a play for Haren, who is a free agent after 2013? Should they try to acquire someone like Bourjos or Wells, or a package deal that includes one of those hitters and Haren? Before anything could happen, the Angels would have to eat significant salary on someone like Haren or Wells, in order for the Indians to take an interest. I know that they’ve freed up money that was paid to Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore, but there are a number of players that will be due raises in arbitration and that should be taken into account when planning the Indians’ budget. I’ve always had a lot of respect for Haren, and think he would be a good addition in an attempt to rebuild the starting rotation from last year’s disaster. Even though he had a -0.6 WAR last year, there is only one other season (2010) where Haren’s WAR wasn’t 2.4 or higher. As an example of how poor the Indians’ pitching staff was last year, only Vinnie Pestano had a WAR higher than 0.9. The only Indians starter that had a WAR above zero was David Huff’s 0.1 WAR in limited appearances. They could use all of the help they could get.
With Wells, he had a WAR of 0.5 in 2012 and -0.8 in 2011; however in 2010 it was 3.6. Bourjos’s WAR was 1.1 in 2012 and 4.8 in 2012. As a comparison, the highest WAR of any player to cycle through left field for the Indians in 2012 was Ezequiel Carrera at 0.5. The only other player that managed to stay above zero was (oddly enough) Johnny Damon at 0.1 However, an 0.1 WAR isn’t necessarily something to brag about. I would probably stay away from Wells, unless the Angels were willing to eat almost everything for some reason (he has had some pop in his bat, and the Indians could use that, particularly with Hafner’s departure). Bourjos is a much more intriguing option to me. What is the point of him hanging around Anaheim if he’s going to sit on the bench most of the time anyway?