Angels boost rotation with Dan Haren

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PHOENIX (AP) - Dan Haren was traded to the Los Angeles Angels by the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday for left-hander Joe Saunders and three other players.

The last-place Diamondbacks also get right-hander Rafael Rodriguez, minor league pitcher Patrick Corbin and a player to be named.

A three-time All-Star, Haren was one of the most prized pitchers available as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches. He joins a Los Angeles rotation that is solid up front but is missing injured left-hander Scott Kazmir.

“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.”

It also counters a big move made recently by Texas, which had a six-game lead in the AL West over the Angels going into Sunday night’s game.

The Rangers acquired ace left-hander Cliff Lee on July 9 for rookie first baseman Justin Smoak and a package of prospects.

“There are still opportunities out there. We’re not done trying to improve our club,” Reagins said.

Haren has averaged 15 wins over the past five seasons and is 7-8 with a 4.60 ERA in 21 starts this year. He 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.”

Haren is in the second season of a four-year, $44.75 million contract with a club option for a fifth year. Scioscia wasn’t sure yet when the right-hander would make his Angels debut.

“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, an All-Star in 2008, was 6-10 with a 4.62 ERA in 20 starts for the Angels this year.

“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.”

Still, Saunders said it will be difficult to leave the Angels after spending eight years with them. He described his Los Angeles teammates as “family.”

“I can’t say enough about this organization. They treated me great. Obviously, it’s sad to leave, but I’m going to a better place,” he said. “It’s part of the game. I totally understand it. It’s a business. It’s tough leaving the guys.”

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