A's send ace Haren to Arizona

A's send ace Haren to Arizona

A's send ace Haren to Arizona
FOXSports.com

For the NL West champion Arizona Diamondbacks, it's extreme makeover.

Completing three trades in one day, the Diamondbacks have altered their roster dramatically, acquiring right-hander Dan Haren from the A's and reliever Chad Qualls and infielder Chris Burke from the Astros.

The D-Backs are giving up six prospects to the A's while acquiring Haren and Class AAA right-hander Connor Robertson. They are sending closer Jose Valverde to the Astros for Qualls, Burke and Class AAA right-hander Juan Gutierrez.

The A's, beginning their reconstruction, obtained left-handed pitchers Brett Anderson, Dana Eveland and Greg Smith, infielder Chris Carter and outfielders Aaron Cunningham and Carlos Gonzalez for Haren.

According to Baseball America's latest rankings, Gonzalez was the No. 1 prospect in the Diamondbacks' system while Anderson was No. 3, Cunningham No. 7 and Carter No. 8.

For Haren, however, the D-backs were willing to pay a high price.

Haren, the American League starting pitcher in the 2007 All-Star contract will combine with Brandon Webb to give the Diamondbacks a formidable 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation — a rotation that also will include Doug Davis, Micah Owings and possibly Randy Johnson.

What's more, Haren's contract makes him a far more affordable option than the other two prominent starters available on the trade market: Twins left-hander Johan Santana, who is a year away from free agency, and Orioles lefty Erik Bedard, who is two years away.

Haren is signed for $4 million in '08 and $5.5 million in '09, and his deal also includes a $6.75 million club option for '10 that could become guaranteed if he pitches a certain number of innings.

"We had a significant amount of interest in Dan, as you would expect," Athletics general manager Billy Beane said on a conference call. "As I said from the start of this winter, the way we went forward was going to be, first and foremost, on the health of the club, and how much interest there was in a guy like Dan and what was going to be the return if we did decide to trade him."

The D-Backs' trade with the Astros also has major implications.

By acquiring Valverde, the Astros found their replacement for closer Brad Lidge, whom they traded to the Phillies earlier this off-season.

Valverde, 28, led the majors in saves last season, converting 47 of his 54 chances and making the NL All-Star team. However, the trade of Qualls costs the Astros a valued setup man, and Gutierrez is the fourth young pitcher traded by the team in the past three days. The Astros sent three other pitchers to the Orioles as part of a package for shortstop Miguel Tejada, and still lack depth in their starting rotation beyond Roy Oswalt.

To replace Valverde, the D-backs likely will turn to either right-hander Brandon Lyon or right-hander Tony Pena, with Qualls remaining in a setup role.

In a lesser deal, the D-backs also acquired right-hander Billy Buckner for infielder Alberto Callaspo.

For the A's the trade marks the beginning of a rebuilding program as they build toward the opening of a new ballpark in 2011. Haren, the American League's starting pitcher in the 2007 All-Star Game, likely will not be the last player they trade.

Right-hander Joe Blanton also has been a topic of trade conversations, and will become the most attractive righty available in free agency or trade after Japanese right-hander Hiroki Kuroda makes his free-agent decision. Closer Huston Street is among the other players the A's will consider moving.

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