Angels Shopping Dan Haren and Ervin Santana in Advance of Option Decisions – Should Cubs Bite?

Here’s a new one.

Dan Haren and Ervin Santana are set to be free agents in five days. Although each is controlled under a team option for 2013, those options – $15.5 million for Haren, $13 million for Santana – are expected to be declined given the down years for Santana (73 ERA+) and Haren (87 ERA+). Haren’s option includes a hefty $3.5 million buyout, so it’s possible that the Angels will decide he’s worth that $12 million difference and keep him.

The Angels have to make a decision on those options within three days.

Before making that decision, however, the Angels are going to shop each pitcher, reports Jon Heyman. It’s kind of quirky, because if the options are declined, these guys immediately become free agents. So, if you trade for one of them, all you’re really acquiring is the right to exercise the 2013 option (which, if you went to the trouble of trading for them, you’d obviously do). You don’t hear about deals like this too often, and, if something’s going to happen, it has to happen in the next three days, before those option decisions are due.

I think the Cubs should seriously consider feeling the Angels out on both pitchers.

Why would the Cubs give up prospects to get a guy they can likely sign as a free agent in a few weeks? Why would the Cubs give up prospects to get a guy on a really expensive one-year option?

Because those are exactly the kinds of deals the Cubs would love to sign pitchers to for 2013, but which free agents tend to hate – super short-term, high dollar amounts for one year. The Cubs are in a perfect position to absorb the cost associated with what amounts to a really expensive one-year deal for Haren and/or Santana – they have the money, and they have the desire to pick up flip-able pieces. And it’s not like these are worthless pitchers. Who knows what might happen in 2013 if the Cubs added one or both of them on the relative cheap?

How cheap? Well, here’s the thing: you’ve got to assume the asking price would be less than the value of a future compensatory pick (which comes after the first round of the Draft). Why? Because it’s highly unlikely that the Angels are going to make either Haren or Santana a “qualifying offer” in five days after declining their options. $13.5ish million? The pitchers might just accept it – Santana is coming off a terrible year, and Haren is coming off of a down year, as well, and has some health questions. In other words, because the Angels aren’t likely to make qualifying offers, they aren’t likely to get a compensatory pick for either of these guys, so they’ll take what they can get.

Which, of course, makes you wonder why would the Cubs want to take a $15.5 million risk on Haren and a $13 million risk on Santana. Well, they might not. That’s a pretty lofty price for each, and neither will approach that annual value amount on the free agent market. But, as I said earlier, the Cubs would get the pitcher(s) on mere one-year deals. No long-term commitment, and a chance to flip them for value mid-season (or, who knows … be competitive?). It could be hard to get other pitchers of their caliber to agree to one-year deals.

So, ultimately, it becomes a question of whether the options on each pitcher is just too much money, and whether the asking price – which, given everything, shouldn’t be too much – is just slightly too steep. In principle, going after both Haren and Santana in a pre-option-decision trade makes a whole lot of sense for the Cubs. But the devil will be in those financial and prospect details.

Obviously Haren is more attractive on this kind of deal than Santana, primarily because Santana might have to settle for a short-term deal next year anyway. Even if the trade cost on Santana was negligible, I’m not quite sure he’s worth that $13 million even on a mere one-year deal. Haren, on the other hand, given his track record, really might be worth the $15.5 million. If he returns to form in 2013 (which, admittedly, will require a return of some lost velocity, which is always a dicey proposition), he could genuinely help the Cubs, or he could net them a really nice mid-season return.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

79 responses to “Angels Shopping Dan Haren and Ervin Santana in Advance of Option Decisions – Should Cubs Bite?”

  1. Kyle

    Pass on Santana for sure. He’s awful. We should go into spring training next season with at least 7 guys better than him without even trying that hard.

    Haren? I guess I wouldn’t hate it completely, but he’s been losing velocity the last few years and was down to 88.5 MPH on his average fastball last season. He’d basically be Maholm but cost twice as much.

    1. Bryan

      Well Maholm did net us Arodys Vizcaino so if Haren could do the same wouldn’t that be a win for the cubs? If say it only took a Top 20 guy like Vitters/Lake and essentially turn that into a top 5-10 guy like Vizcaino. I dont think anyone would oppose that from the cubs side!

      1. Mick

        Why would it even take a top 20 guy? We’d be saving the Angels $4.5M by accepting a trade for both players. The Angels are going to need every dollar they can scrape up to afford Greinke. I’d think the Cubs would get creative and send the Angels a Rule-5 eligible like David Macias or Nate Maldonado (they’re both player-coaches, what?).

    2. Scott

      I agree that Santana isn’t the answer for the Cubs, but lets not forget that the Cubs were throwing out a rotation of Travis Wood, Chris Volstad, Justin Germano, Chris Rusin and Jason Berken to finish the season. Ervin Santana is better than at least 4 of those guys (by a wide margin) and maybe all 5.

  2. Bleedcubbieblue

    Who would we talk about trading away? Top 20 prospect? Vitters? Lake?

  3. AB

    yea, I agree with Kyle. He’s basicly a worse, more expensive Travis Wood.

  4. Whiteflag

    Santana- not loving that option
    Haren- not so much either given his age, current trend of losing velocity, and price tag.

    I’m hoping better options are out there.

    1. Turn Two

      Trade for Johnson, re-sign Garza and get haren, we would at least have a decent rotation and you’d have to imagine at least 1 of the 3 could net you a real nice gain if your not competitive

  5. Rizzofanclub

    Dan Haren’s age? he’s 32 and it would be a 1 year deal. I like the idea, think about it Dan Haren leaves a much tougher division to the NL Central. He could land us a top 50 prospect easily at the trade deadline (or be a major piece if the cubs compete)

    1. whiteflag

      Just think given his age, you are unlikely to see a velocity turn around. Not the main reason just another factor.

  6. CM

    I think Santana suffered from being lost in the shuffle with the arrival of some new arms. I’ve seen him pitch live several times and he’s always had good stuff. If all it took was one prospect I’d take that deal for sure.

  7. gutshot5820

    Hyun-jin Ryu – He is getting posted and represented by Scott Boras. Here is another player we should be going hard after with money. Supposedly he is better than Wei Yin Chen of the Baltimore Orioles.

    1. gutshot5820

      Hyun-Jin was the first Korean player to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season and has led the KBO in strikeouts five times. According to Jee-Ho he “can reach up to 93 miles per hour with his fastball, and major league scouts have said they like his command with his changeup and slider.”

      1. Kyle

        I hate the “can reach” velocity reports. On the WBC videos posted earlier today, he was consistently working 90-91.

        His fastball looked pretty ordinary. Problematically straight and merely okay command (decent at keeping it down in the zone, but prone to leave it out over the plate). The breaking stuff seemed big-league ready.

        Off the top of my head, 4/$50 in total cost (posting + contract) seems reasonable. Anything more and I start to flinch.

        1. gutshot5820

          I agree, that’s probly on the high end. Wei Yin Chen was much cheaper and very effective for the Orioles this past year. I’m kinda disappointed the FO didn’t even look at him when most people were saying he was a very good pitcher. Hyun-jin is 6’2 and only 25 yrs old and would fit right in into a #3 spot into our rotation. I have a feeling though that Theo doesn’t like the risk/reward potential of Asian ballplayers though and will not bid even remotely enough to land him, even though he has money to burn.

          1. Andrew

            I remember a lot of sources were saying the cubs were the second highest bid for Darvish so I dont think Theo discriminates when it comes to Asian ballplayers even with the daisuke signing. I’d be surprised if the cubs arent in the running for Ryu.

        2. Tommy

          You have made an incredible number of conclusions based on an incredibly small sample size.

          1. Kyle

            Absolutely true.

          2. gutshot5820

            LOL. I quit this site. Everytime somebody posts, one of the know-it-all regulars have to start bashing, You have the same five, ten guys posting everyday and whenever someone new wants to post their OPINION they get bashed and told to go somewhere else. Exactly same thing happened to NSBB. Now they only have the same five, ten guys posting among themselves.

            1. TWC

              If you don’t want anyone to react to your “OPINION”, write yourself an email. If you post on a public site, you subject yourself to public comment. If you can’t handle that, you should probably refrain from public comment.

              1. gutshot5820

                LOL. I knew this was coming. Very intelligent response. Ok so I think you are an idiot and a frickin moron? Can you handle this? TWC, If you can’t handle my criticism then you are a hypocrite? And Kyle don’t you have a job? All you do is write long letters on here constantly and all it amounts to is constant babble. None of my opinion matters one iota and neither does any of your opinions. All your baseball knowledge comes from Baseball america and ESPN and other websites. And it makes me laugh how you talk condescendingly towards anyone as if you know jackshit what you are talking about. Rating this pitcher and that as if you know what the hell you are talking about? The only thing you really know is what you read on baseball sites…lol. None of you would even get sniffed at as a MLB scout or any type of position on a MLB team much less a high school baseball team.

                1. Sweetjamesjones

                  No need to get upset. Have you tried posting on the message boards?

                2. JK

                  I know what you’re talking about gutshot, a lot of minor league experts on here. Brett’s info and writing is awesome but the regular posters do get a little territorial and testy from time to time. It’s the reason i’ve only commented a handful of times in the couple years i’ve been reading this site. I just read and move on.

            2. DarthHater

              Nobody told you to go somewhere else. Somebody simply observed that you were drawing conclusions about Hyun-jin Ryu based on a very small sample size, which is a perfectly legitimate observation. Personally, I found your opinion and your short exchange with Kyle to be informative, so I hope you don’t give up on BN just yet (There goes my hard-earned reputation as a hater…)

              Besides, anyone who thinks that Tommy is a know-it-all hasn’t been paying attention. ;-)

              1. TWC

                I read Tommy’s comments as referring to Kyle’s small-sample-size conclusions, no?

                But in the la-la-land of Everyone’s-Opinion-Is-Equally-Valid, any discrepant opinion or factual challenge is regarded as “bashing”.

                1. Tommy

                  At least TWC gets me. :(

                  Wasn’t referring to your post, Gutshot.

                2. Jade

                  Isn’t the internet wonderful! We all get to have such rich fantasy lives.

                  1. scorecardpaul

                    at first glance I thought you said we all get fantasy wives. then disapointment set in

              2. Tommy

                Thanks Darth. I think. ;)

  8. Tyler

    Javier Baez broke the tip of his thumb and is out for the rest of the AFL but is expected to be fine to go to spring training in February

    1. Tyler

    2. Tyler
      1. Spriggs

        That really blows. The first in a long line of injuries no doubt. The Wrath strikes early…

        1. DarthHater

          Bah. February Schmebruary. The Mayan Apocalypse is already beginning…

          1. Andrew

            Call it the Theriot Curse, he wins a world series again and smites down Baez.

            1. CubFanBob

              so cubby, he hurt himself during a celebration

              1. TWC

                Javier Baez celebrates however the frack he wants.

  9. Mike

    “The pitchers might just accept it – Santana is coming off a terrible year, and Haren is coming off of a down year, as well, and has some health questions”

    To clarify, do the pitchers have the option to decline if the team picks up their options? If so, they could technically decline the option if traded to the Cubs.

    If they have the right to decline, the Cubs may as well just roll the dice in the FA market for either or both of them.

    1. DaveB23

      “Each is controlled under a team option for 2013″. If the option is picked up, they can’t decline

  10. ramy16

    I think the risk for Santana wouldnt be bad! Does anybody know his record against the national league?.. I do think a fresh start in the NL would probably do him good!

  11. Myles

    Yeah, I’d take either of them for the same reason I’d take Lincecum: if you aren’t using the money on long-term guys that make sense, you should use it on short-term assets that you could turn into long-term assets. Going from the AL to the NL automatically bumps you down half a run in ERA anyway.

    1. jt

      Santana was really bad in 1/3 of his starts
      1/3 of his starts were of the type you could live with but not be real happy about
      1/3 of his starts were good.
      If 2012 is used as the template he’d provide a glass half full for a single year.
      If the other option is limited to signing a pitcher multi year who has health problems then it might be something to consider.

  12. Jimmy James

    i hope they kick the tires….i wouldn’t want them to give up anything useful…basically how bad do the angels want to get out of declining the option

  13. ramy16

    Just in Brewers to declined option on manny parra, Dodgers to decline option on Juan Rivera, Atheletics to decline option on Dallas Braden! I think Braden if healthy could help the Cubs! Personally i think even Juan Rivera could help as well if he could get back to what he was when he was an Angel

    1. Turn Two

      I’d be in on Braden

      1. Max

        I’d do Braden if healthy on a 1 yr 4 mil with team option for year 2 and try to flip him at the deadline

        1. TWC

          Isn’t he expected to not be ready to pitch until mid-season? That’s not a lot of time to show that he’s recovered.

          1. Starwin Bastro

            He had rotator cuff surgery in mid August. Now that I know that I wouldn’t touch him for more than minimum. Sad to see his constant injuries because I truly believed he was on the fast track to being a solid #3 in 2010 after his perfecto

  14. lou brock lives

    Article on Angels website says they are looking for a veteran closer on the cheap. How about Marmol, Vitters & Coleman (paying $5 million of 9 owed to Marmol) for Haren & Callaspo.

    1. Mick

      I like the deal but how confident are the Angels in starting Trumbo at 3B? He only started 8 games at 3B this year compared to Callaspo’s 122.

      If I were the Cubs, I’d try and take advantage of the Angels need to free up money (to sign Greinke) and offer to take on Haren, Santana, and Wells with Bourjos and Maronde for Marmol (eating most of his salary), Barney, and a couple of throw-ins.

  15. Tim

    Can’t believe Javier Baez broke his hand today

    1. Tim

      His left thumb actually

      1. fortyonenorth

        …celebrating….woo hoo.

  16. GoCubsGo

    If we could get both Haren and Santana for a 25-30 prospect or 2 then go for it. Then sign a free agent starting pitcher. I would love to go into spring training with 6-7 “LEGIT” starting pitchers. Let them all compete for starting. Obviously let Garza and Samardzija have 2 of the positions and let the rest compete. (probably have to give the pitcher we signed a spot as well.)

    M. Garza
    J. Samardzija
    T. Wood
    A. Cabrera
    E. Santana
    D. Haren
    A. Sanchez
    C. Villanueva

    1. Jason

      Theo and Co. have said that they’re looking for 2 starting pitchers this offseason; having all those guys sounds pretty nice, but I’m not sure it would work from a financial standpoint.

      Garza and Samardzija are locks. Haren, Santana, and Sanchez will all be making 10+ million next year. Since there’s no way the Cubs would absorb 10 million in salary from a guy that they just signed, there’s really no way they could get all of those guy AND have a spring competition. Plus, I think Wood deserves another shot in the rotation.

  17. Carne Harris

    Not a fan of picking up Santana. Crap year on a dowel. Plus he led the bigs in homers allowed, not exactly conducive with the FO’s groundball philosophy at Wrigley. Not sure about Haren, didn’t follow him this year, but I do see the FO being more amenable to dealing prospects this year than they were last. Kind of like they did with some of the scouts and minor league staff – gave it a year to make up their minds about them and now won’t hesitate to trade off players they don’t think fit in with the plan for those they believe will.

  18. cubsin

    I’m not very interested in Santana at that price, but I’d be glad to spend somebody else’s money for Haren. Since we’d be saving the Angels the $3.5 million they’d have to pay for declining his option, I’d expect we’d send them a prospect and they’d send us a slightly better prospect along with Haren’s contract.

  19. daveyrosello

    No interest in Santana, he’s all kind of suck. Haren, well, why not just wait until he posts as a free agent? The only way I’d be interested in trading for him is if LA takes Marmol in exchange. And even then, that decline in velocity is a huge huge red flag.

  20. Turn Two

    It seems almost irresponsible to not check on haren, Theo clearly had a lot of inherited guys he doesn’t like, trade some of them who are in the top 30 of our list for a lottery ticket like this would be great

  21. Frank

    Why not both? Haren’s the main target, but if we can expand the deal to include Santana, go for it. If the offseason plan is to keep throwing shit at the ceiling,go after the high reward shit rather than crappy middle relievers with a ceiling of mediocre middle relievers?

    Not sure what it would take, but if the plan is to decline an option on Haren and NT Santana, cash is likely the main return for them, and the Cubs certainly have that. I know that the pen was a big problem for the Angels, so maybe we could start with Marmol and maybe Dolis and go from there.

  22. Tim

    I don’t get why people are against giving Santana a shot. In 2011, he posted 3.38 ERA, in 228.2 innings. He also only let up 207 hits, while posting a 1.22 WHIP. Those are pretty solid numbers from only one year ago. He’s not that old(29), still has pretty good stuff, and will only cost money and prospects that are future role players. What’s the worst that could happen? He has another terrible year and you end up paying him the 13 million. Not ideal, but what if you have the best case scenario? Let’s say he rebounds to 2011 form, and the Cubs are either somewhat competitive or you can flip him for a better return that what you paid to get him. Is the worst case scenario so bad? I don’t think so, and the best case scenario is pretty good.

    As far as Haren goes, I don’t see a whole lot of down side either. The guy has great control, a fairly large name, and is still young enough to be flipped for a nice return at the deadline.

    The other thing to consider, who do you think the Cubs are going to sign? I know Theo is talking about signing/trading for two pitchers. But who? Edwin Jackson/Shawn Marcum/Peavy/etc… aren’t going to sign here. Why would any player sign here just to get traded in mid season? I think the Cubs got a little lucky with Maholm, he was a soft tossing lefty from a bad Pittsburgh team, coming off of injury. I guess you could draw some parallels with Marcum, but I think his value is actually higher. He was traded for Brett Lawrie just two years ago.

    I think these two available Angel pitcher’s for the cost, seem like pretty good deals with some upside. I hope Theo moves quickly to get something done.

    1. GoCubsGo

      Agree completely.

      I mean if we could get Anibel Sanchez go for it but I don’t see him or any other top of the line pitcher wanting to come to Chicago for the 2013 season.

      Garza
      Samardzija
      Haren
      Santana
      Wood/Cabrera

      Doesn’t sound too bad does it?

  23. Jade

    And you’d think moving from the AL West to the NL Central couldn’t hurt the numbers, that and everyone trying to swing while wearing a parka in April…

  24. Dustin S

    Still think folks are being a little optimistic in how high the Cubs will aim this offseason for pickups. I see them aiming probably a bit lower, more like Chris Young or Joe Blanton than Haren or Santana.

    1. Eric

      I dunno, abty over at pro sports daily (a guy respected and with some connections) thinks they cubs will be VERY active this offseason. Sounded serious enough to get us all excited over there.

  25. ReiCow

    Under the assumption that the Cubs won’t be signing any big time free agents, I love the idea of getting both these guys and trying to flip them mid season. At best, presuming we aren’t competitive, we turn whatever prospects we give up for them into a nice return. At worst, we lose some middling prospects on our investment. I think the cost is worth the chance at a nice return, or who knows, maybe a competitive season!

    Moo.

  26. Fastball

    I would not mind Haren or Santana but I would not give anything in our top 50 to obtain the right to have them for half a season and then have to pray daily that nothing happened to their trade value. I think that’s a slippery slope. We slipped and fell pretty hard with Garza. On the other hand I think you could sign them both to 3 year deals for $10M or less a year if they hit the FA market. I figure Theo is going to have to over pay to an extent to get valued players to sign with the Cubs at this point. How much over paying is required is anyone’s guess.

    Um.. The best way to deal with criticism is to expect it and have a little thick skin. Sometimes I get comments where guys are onboard because I shoot from the hip. My baseball knowledge comes from playing at a high level. I don’t deep dive on stats because I like to watch a player either live or on video. Stat’s are great but they don’t tell the entire story. I suggest you comment your opinion and if nobody likes it that’s fine. I don’t really care if my opinions are like or not. If you don’t speak up then there is no chance for readers to form different opinions. I do read a lot and it sparks some thought and sometimes I change my opinion. It’s not often but it does happen :)

  27. Hebner The Gravedigger

    These two are not great options until you review the list of available FAs this year. Given the relative dearth of available pitchers, their short contract durations, and the Cubs having operational cash, these two appear to be worth the gamble.

  28. Frank

    The fact is that these are two sarting pitchers that coul be potential difference makers. While the dillard amount would be the same or maybe higher than guys like Sanchez, McCarthy, etc, it’s just a 1 year obligation. This is our chance to be the poor kid who’s the first to the Halloween candy at Walgreens early November 1st.

    Even if one or both could be a reliable 3-4 starter and we still tank, we could end up with a quality prospect or 2 in the summer.

  29. JulioZuleta

    I think you might be able to get Haren for an absolute no namer, and maybe get $1 mil back in the deal. If they don’t trade him, they have to pay him $15.5 mil (highly doubtful) or release him (and pay $3.5 mil). It shouldn’t cost any prospect whatsoever, and you may even be able to get money BACK in that deal. I’m all for it. Hell, we paid Zambrano $19 mil to not be on the team last year, I wouldn’t be opposed to paying Haren less than that to give us a few months and pull what could possibly be a substantial haul at the deadline. Sign me up.

  30. Dan

    You all realize that the Cubs have NO PITCHING and that trading a prospect or two regardless of their BA ranking for two proven MLB pitchers would be a very good move…Edwin Santana and Danny Haren are really good pitchers that face really good line ups EVERY GAME…They would immediately be better than 3/5ths of the staff and depending on how Shark pitches his 2nd year as a starter, possibly 4/5ths of your rotation..