UPDATE: Yankees were "never close" to deal for Dan Haren

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UPDATE: Jon Heyman of SI.com essentially backs up Stark’s report, saying the Yankees would be willing to trade Ivan Nova, Zach McAllister (previously mentioned in the Cliff Lee proposal) and other prospects, however they will not include Joba Chamberlain and pay the full $33 million remaining on Haren’s contract.

According to Heyman, the Diamondbacks have attempted to include Chad Qualls or Chris Snyder in the deal, in an effort to shed payroll.

8:03 AM: Oh, this is silly season alright.

Just hours after Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall told Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com that the Yankees were not the front-runners for Dan Haren, a source told Jayson Stark of ESPN.com that the Yankees were “never close” to acquiring Haren on Friday.

According to the source, the teams did exchange names, however the Yankees rejected a proposal that would have sent Joba Chamberlain, 23-year-old right-hander Ivan Nova and two more prospects to Arizona. In turn, the Diamondbacks rejected a proposal that consisted only of prospects.

This is where I start to get a little bit confused. Stark writes that another hurdle between the teams, according to the source, is how much of the $33 million remaining on Haren’s contract the Diamondbacks are willing to pay. Arizona’s proposal would have required the Yankees to assume all of it. Meanwhile, the Yankees (and other interested teams) want the quality of the players included in the trade to be based on how much of
Haren’s remaining contract the Diamondbacks are willing to pay.

So, um, the Yankees may have included Chamberlain had the D-Backs kicked in some cash? I don’t buy it. Haren’s contract — approximately $4 million (of his $8.5 million salary) in 2010, $12.75 million in 2011, $12.75 million in 2012, $15.5 million club option ($3.5 million buyout) in 2013 — is actually pretty reasonable. And not in a “Yankees buy everything” sort of way. While still costly, he would be a pretty decent bargain for most teams.

Taking the money out of it, it just sounds like the Yankees are reluctant to give up on Chamberlain. Simple as that. And I gotta say, looking at Chamberlain for what he is at this point — a reliever who will be arbitration-eligible after the season — I’m not sure that makes much sense.