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: MLB could fine the Angels $2 million for failure to report Tyler Skaggs’ drug use

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T.J. Quinn of ESPN is reporting that Major League Baseball could fine the Los Angeles Angels up to $2 million “if Major League Baseball determines that team employees were told of Tyler Skaggs’ opioid use prior to his July 1 death and didn’t inform the commissioner’s office.”

The fine would be pursuant to the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement which affirmatively requires any team employee who isn’t a player to inform the Commissioner’s Office of “any evidence or reason to believe that a Player … has used, possessed or distributed any substance prohibited” by MLB.

As was reported last weekend, Eric Kay, the Angels Director of Communications, told DEA agents that he and at least one other high-ranking Angels official knew of Skaggs’ opioid use. The Angels have denied any knowledge of Skaggs’ use, and the other then-Angels employee Kay named, current Hall of Fame President Tim Mead deny that he know as well, but Kay’s admission that he knew — he in fact claims he purchased drugs for and did drugs with Skaggs — would, if true, constitute team knowledge. Major League Baseball would, of course, want to make its own determination of whether or not Kay was being truthful when he told DEA agents what his lawyer says he told them.

Which raises the question of why, apart from a strong desire to get in criminal jeopardy for lying to DEA agents, Kay would admit through his lawyer that he lied to DEA agents. Still, the process is the process, so giving MLB a little time here is probably not harming anyone.

As for a $2 million fine? Well, it cuts a number of ways. On the one hand, that’s a lot of money. On the other hand, (a) a man is dead; and (b) $2 million is what the Angels’ DH or center fielder makes in about 11 minutes so how much would such a fine really sting?

On the third hand, my God, what else can be done here? No matter what happened in the case of Skaggs’ death, this is not a situation anyone in either the Commissioner’s Office nor the MLBPA truly contemplated when the JDA was drafted. We live in a world of horrors at times, and by their very nature, horrors involve that which it is not expected and for which there can be no adequate, pre-negotiated remedy. It’s a bad story all around, no matter what happens.

Still, it would be notable for Major League Baseball to fine any team under the “teams must report players they suspect used banned substances” rule. Because, based on what I have heard, knowledge of players who use banned substances — which includes marijuana, cocaine, opioids and other non-PED illegal drugs — and which have not been reported to MLB is both commonplace and considerable.

But that’s a topic for another day. Perhaps tomorrow.