Looking to fill a need in the rotation before the end of the non-waiver trade deadline, the Cubs made their first acquisition a couple of hours before the cut-off and picked up veteran RHP Dan Haren for minor leaguers SS Elliot Soto and RHP Ivan Pineyro.
Let’s take a look how Dan Haren fits in the team for the remainder of the season.
The front office had interest in Dan Haren back in 2012 when they tried to acquire him from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for RHP Carlos Marmol and it’s easy to see why. In 13 seasons, he has a 149-129 record, 3.75 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 1969 strikeouts in 2361.1 innings with three All-Star appearances to his credit. Haren’s velocity has been in steady decline and his fastball tops out in the mid- to high-80s range at this point. He’s probably relying on mostly guile and experience which makes his 3.42 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 21 starts this season all the more impressive. His FIP of 4.57 and K/9 of 6.1 is certainly alarming and suggests a correction is coming. However, considering the Cubs have gotten a 4-5 record in 20 starts with 5.28 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 83 strikeouts in 92 innings out of a combination of Travis Wood, Tsuyoshi Wada, Clayton Richard, Dallas Beeler and Donn Roach, even Haren’s worst is an upgrade.
Dan Haren is a free agent after the season and his $10 million base salary is being handled by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He’s currently on pace to start 33 games and pitch 205 innings and if he meets those, the Cubs would be on the hook for $3 million in incentives. Considering the lack of innings out of the fourth spot the club has gotten, that extra money would be a bargain especially if Haren continues to pitch well.
The Cubs didn’t have to dip into their pool of prospects to get him either. Neither Elliot Soto nor Ivan Pineyro is considered among the Cubs top 30 prospects. Soto is a 25-year old shortstop who also has experience at second and third base. He is a plus defender at short, but very little power or speed. Pineyro was acquired from the Nationals for Scott Hairston in 2013 and added depth to a system starved for it at the time. He has three pitches, a fastball that ranges from 87-92 mph, a change up with above average potential and a curve that should come around for him. Since his acquisition, he’s been pretty inconsistent, so he likely needs more work.
Of course, Dan Haren certainly wasn’t the sexiest name available on the market, but he is a low-risk acquisition who fills a hole and gives the team some added veteran leadership in a playoff push. His familiarity with Miguel Montero should make a smooth transition for Haren and perhaps take some pressure off Kyle Hendricks who can settle into the fifth spot where he belongs.
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