|The Athletics received the prospects and the Diamondbacks the veteran in this offseason’s fourth major prospects-for-veteran trade. Righthanders Dan Haren and Connor Robertson head to Arizona, while outfielders Carlos Gonzalez and Aaron Cunningham, first baseman Chris Carter and lefthanders Brett Anderson, Dana Eveland and Greg Smith go the other way.
The Tigers kicked things off prospect trading season by dealing for Edgar Renteria right after the World Series. Detroit struck again to take Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis off the Marlins’ hands in early December. And just last week, the Astros got Miguel Tejada from the Orioles.
|The Big Leaguers|
|Haren, 27, became the first established frontline pitcher to switch teams this offseason, beating rumored trade targets Johan Santana (Twins) and Erik Bedard (Orioles) to the punch. Haren has taken 34 rotation turns each season since being traded by St. Louis to Oakland in December 2004 for Mark Mulder. He’s gotten progressively better, too, finishing a career-best 15-9, 3.07 with 192 strikeouts in 222 2/3 innings last season and making the AL all-star team. A ninth-round pick of the Cardinals from Pepperdine in 2001, Haren has a workhorse frame and clean mechanics, perfect for commanding his low-90s fastball, slider and changeup. Haren’s career record stands at 49-44, 3.82 with 606 strikeouts, 192 walks and 94 home runs allowed in 781 innings. He’s under contract for the next three year at $16.25 million.
Like David Wells before him, Eveland, 24, has trouble controlling his weight, which has adversely affected the quality of his stuff. At his best, the 6-foot-1, 240-pound Eveland sits 88-90 mph with his fastball and touches 94 with plus command. His slider can be a plus pitch, aided by his crossfire delivery, and his curveball shows good depth. He also throws a changeup. Eveland has the raw stuff to retire both lefties and righties, especially in a relief role, but he’s gone just 2-4, 7.55 with 58-39 K-BB in 64 big league innings for the Brewers and Diamondbacks. He went 1-0, 1.65 with 24-12 K-BB in 32 minor league innings, mostly for Triple-A Tucson. Milwaukee drafted him in the 16th round from JC of the Canyons in 2002 and signed him the next year.
|The centerpiece of the deal, Gonzalez, offers prototype right-fielder tools, including easy power to all fields and an above-average arm. The 22-year-old Venezuelan runs well enough to play center field, but he’s not quite consistent enough there to profile as a regular. The lefthanded-hitting Gonzalez sometimes struggles for a plan at the plate and can get in trouble when he gets pull-happy, but after hitting .286/.330/.476 with 16 home runs for Double-A Mobile in the tough Southern League, he’s proven that he’s nearly ready to take the next step.
Drafted in the second round from a Oklahoma high school in 2006, Anderson jumped to high Class A Visalia in his pro debut, and while his strikeout-to-walk ratio remained strong (40-11), he went just 3-3, 4.85 in nine starts. Anderson, 19, fared much better with low Class South Bend, where he made his first 14 starts, going 8-4, 2.21 with 85-10 K-BB. The son of Oklahoma State coach Fred Anderson, a noted mentor of pitchers, Brett always pitches with a plan. Though his fastball seldom tops 90 mph, he throws two breaking balls for strikes as well as a changeup.
Cunningham and Carter, both 21, came to the Diamondbacks in separate trades with the White Sox. Now both head to Oakland. Cunningham went unnoticed and undrafted out of high school, but the White Sox were rewarded in their investment of a sixth-round pick in 2005, as Cunningham has done nothing but hit since leaving Everett (Wash.) CC. He batted .308/.375/.509 with 16 home runs and 28 stolen bases in high Class A and Double-A in 2007. Hitting comes easy to the muscular, compact Cunningham, but at times he’s a bit too aggressive at the plate. Though he runs and throws well, Cunningham already is limited to left field because he gets poor jumps and lacks throwing accuracy.
Carter hit .291/.383/. 522 for low Class A Kannapolis in 2007, finishing third in the South Atlantic League with 25 home runs and 93 RBIs. Taken as a third baseman from a Las Vegas high school in the 15th round of the 2005 draft, the righthanded-hitting Carter has shown average to above power and command of the strike zone in his three pro seasons. He’s a career .284/.373/.514 hitter.
Smith, 24, a smart college lefty from Louisiana State (sixth round, 2005) missed time with shoulder soreness in 2007, but still managed to go 9-5, 3.54 with 96-32 K-BB in 122 innings at Double- and Triple-A. Like Anderson he tops out around 90 mph, but has exceptional feel for his pitches, which also include a plus curveball and an above-average changeup. Like many athletic lefties, Smith has a strong pickoff move to first base.
Robertson, 26, struggled in his big league debut in 2007, giving up four runs on six hits and two walks in two innings. He fared much better in the minors, going 4-1, 4.35 with 40-21 K-BB in 39 innings for Triple-A Sacramento. A 31st-round pick of the A’s from Birmingham-Southern in 2004, Robertson has good command of average stuff, including a high-80s sinker and a slider. His young brother David is a righthander in the Yankees system.
|Gonzalez may develop into the type of player the Diamondbacks will regret having traded, but he had no obvious place in which to break into Arizona’s lineup, and the club had an obvious need for a No. 2 starter behind ace Brandon Webb.
Arizona’s acquisition of Haren must be viewed as part of a bigger picture in which the Diamondbacks brought aboard five pitchers in three Dec. 14 trades. Haren, Robertson, Chad Qualls, Billy Buckner and Juan Gutierrez all add depth to Arizona’s 2008 pitching staff as they defend their NL West title.