PHOENIX (AP) - The Los Angeles Angels were looking to make a counter move after rival Texas landed Cliff Lee.
Dan Haren fits that bill nicely.
One of the most prized pitchers available as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches, Haren joins a Los Angeles rotation that’s solid up front but is missing injured left-hander Scott Kazmir.
“At this point, being on the West Coast has a lot of value to me, being near my family and going to a ballclub that is dedicated to winning,” Haren said after Arizona’s 10-inning loss to San Francisco. “I am really excited about going there and having a chance to win.”
“A top-of-the-rotation guy that’s going to help us not just this year but years down the road,” Angels general manager Tony Reagins said in Texas before his team played the Rangers. “The addition of Dan gives us five guys that are really talented.”
The AL West-leading Rangers made the first big move, obtaining Lee from Seattle. The ace left-hander arrived in a July 9 deal for rookie first baseman Justin Smoak and a package of prospects.
Los Angeles, trailing Texas by six games heading into Sunday night, boosted its lineup last week by adding infielder Alberto Callaspo in a trade with Kansas City and has now refined its rotation.
“There are still opportunities out there. We’re not done trying to improve our club,” Reagins said.
The 29-year-old Haren has averaged 15 wins over the past five seasons and is 7-8 with a 4.60 ERA in 21 starts this year. In his sixth season, the right-hander was tied for the NL lead with 141 strikeouts through Saturday’s games.
“He’s a guy that we’ve tracked the last month or so and seen him pitch and his stuff is good,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “This is a huge opportunity for us to upgrade not only now but for the next several years. He’s definitely a guy who has pitched in big games. He has terrific stuff and he’s a young veteran. This guy still has his stuff and it gives us a deeper front end of our rotation and that’s what every championship-caliber team is really striving to do.”
The trade ends a long ordeal for Haren, in the second season of a four-year, $44.75 million contract with a club option for a fifth year. He had been rumored to be going to three or four different teams. Now he can relax, headed to a winning club and back to Southern California, where he grew up and still has family.
“I believe his turn would be tomorrow, but we’re going to evaluate a couple of things and get a chance to talk to him and see where he is,” the manager said. “We’ve got guys who are on regular turn now, so we do have the luxury of folding him in somewhere or putting him out there to pitch tomorrow.”
Saunders was an All-Star in 2008 and had a 54-32 record and 4.29 ERA in 115 games over six seasons with the Angels. He was 6-10 with a 4.62 ERA in 20 starts for Los Angeles this year, his eighth in the organization.
“I’ve been in trade talks in the offseason and stuff like that but you never really think it’s going to happen,” said Saunders, who lives in Arizona. “They obviously think highly of me, so it will be a new challenge.”
Rodriguez appeared in one game this season, allowing a run and a hit in two innings, and was 0-1 with a 5.58 ERA in 18 relief appearances over five stints with the big league club last year.
Corbin, a 21-year-old left-hander, has spent the season in the lower levels of Los Angeles’ system.
“(Saunders) brings an element to our club that I think we need,” Arizona interim GM Jerry Dipoto said. “The prospects in the deal bring us talent that we need to build with. Therefore, I felt that this deal checked a lot of boxes for the Arizona Diamondbacks.”
Despite having an off year by his standards, Haren was pursued by several teams, including the New York Yankees. The Diamondbacks were looking to build for the future and possibly dump a significant portion of their payroll, though team officials have insisted that’s not the goal.
Haren is due to make $12.75 million each of the next two seasons with a club option for $15.5 million in 2013. The deal includes a $3.5 million buyout if the option isn’t picked up and a list of teams to whom Haren could veto any trade.
The Diamondbacks acquired him from the Athletics after Arizona finished with the NL’s best record in 2007 and made a surprise run to the NL championship series.
Haren has been among the game’s most durable pitchers with at least 33 starts and 216 innings each of the past five seasons. He was fifth in NL Cy Young Award voting last season and is 86-70 with a 3.71 ERA for St. Louis, Oakland and Arizona.