Diamondbacks sound like a team planning to trade Dan Haren

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Most of the reports surrounding Dan Haren’s availability have focused on the Diamondbacks’ public stance that they’ll only trade the ace right-hander if they get an “A-plus deal” in return.

That’s a smart approach for them to take because Haren is a) one of the more underrated No. 1 starters in baseball, b) signed for reasonable money through 2013, c) and under 30 years old.

However, what struck me most about team officials stressing what type of top-notch haul they’d need in return for Haren is that the mere act of speaking publicly about such things sure makes it seem like they’re planning to trade him.

For instance, here’s what Diamondbacks chief executive officer Derrick Hall said yesterday:

It would need to be, in our opinion, an A-plus deal. I think ideally what we would ask for is major league-ready pitching, be it starters and/or bullpen and prospects. Volume doesn’t matter, it doesn’t need to be four, five or six guys, it’s really about the quality.

As I’ve said before, if a deal can’t get done for Haren and he’s on our team next year, I’m fine with that. If we can get three or four pieces that can bring value now and are also controllable for a number of years, then we’d have to consider it. If we bring in the right pieces and explain ourselves, fans will understand that it was a move to improve our team now.

To me, a quote like “if a deal can’t get done for Haren and he’s on our team next year, I’m fine with that” sure sounds like a team all but convinced he’ll be traded. If nothing else, it’s a major shift in tone from the team’s public stance on Haren just a couple weeks ago. I’d guess the Diamondbacks have more or less decided to deal Haren and recently made that clear to other teams, which is why just about every contender is suddenly being linked to him.

Haren has a partial no-trade clause that allows him to block a move to 12 teams and has previously said he’d like to remain in Arizona, but according to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com “he would be open-minded about a possible deal.” He’s scheduled to start Tuesday against the Phillies and I’d bet on it being his final start in a Diamondbacks uniform.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.