It's been nearly 4 years since the A's traded away staff ace Dan Haren, so let's take a look back at how that trade looks now with the benefit of time.
The A's had made an appearance in the ALCS in 2006, but were swept by the Tigers that year. There was hope that 2007 would bring a return trip to the postseason despite losing ace Barry Zito and slugger Frank Thomas to free agency. The team had signed Mike Piazza during the offseason to help replace Thomas' production, and hoped that they would be able to get enough starting pitching from the trio of Joe Blanton, Dan Haren, and Rich Harden to cushion the loss of Zito.
However, the season didn't quite go the way that they had hoped, and the team struggled to a 3rd place finish in the AL West division. The A's had an extremely cost-controlled ace in the making in Haren, and could potentially market him as a consolation prize to teams in the Johan Santana sweepstakes. Rumored to be among the suitors for Haren, included at one point or another the Mets, the Diamondbacks, the Tigers, the Yankees, the Red Sox, and even the Dodgers.
The Diamondbacks were coming into the 2008 season with a pretty decent sized hole in their rotation. While they had Brandon Webb, there were question marks elsewhere in ther rotation. It became clear that the team hoped to acquire or sign another starting pitcher.
The Moving Pieces
On December 14, 2007, the Diamondbacks acquired Haren and reliever Connor Robertson. They sent pitchers Brett Anderson, Dana Eveland and Greg Smith, outfielders Carlos Gonzalez and Aaron Cunningham, and 1B Chris Carter.
What Happened That Year
In Stockton, Anderson and Carter were both in the Cal League for most of the season, with Carter exploding onto the scene. Carter hit a massive 39 homers in just 137 games for the team, but also struck out 156 times that season. Anderson split his time between Hi-A and AA, and had 118 strikeouts against 27 walks in 105 innings.
The Diamondbacks plugged Haren into their rotation behind Brandon Webb and Randy Johnson, and he continued to thrive. He was named an All-Star in 2008, and went 16-8 with a 3.33 ERA. Unfortunately, the team did not finish particularly well, as they ended with an 82-80 record overall and 2 games back of the Dodgers for the division title. The team did get Haren to sign an additional contract extension though, signing him to an extension which covered through the 2013 season.
- Haren joined an already excellent rotation with Brandon Webb and Randy Johnson in Arizona to start the 2008 season, and signed another below-market extension in August of that season. He was with the team until being traded in July of 2010 to the Angels. During his 2+ seasons in the desert, Haren went 37-26 with a 3.56 ERA and 1.132 WHIP. He made 2 All-Star appearances, and posted a combined 11.2 WAR during that time. Haren was traded on July 25th, 2010 to the Angels in exchange for pitchers Joe Saunders, Rafael Rodriguez, Patrick Corbin, and Tyler Skaggs.
- Robertson spent the 2008 season shuttling between AAA and Phoenix, throwing a total of 7 innings in the Majors. He was traded to the Mets on December 12th, 2008 for reliever Scott Schoeneweis.
- Brett Anderson is currently recuperating from Tommy John surgery, but remains with the Athletics. He made his Major League debut in 2009, and has posted a 21-23 record in the 2+ seasons so far. He has posted a WAR of 6.1 thus far in his career, but is expected to miss the majority of the 2012 season.
- Chris Carter tore through the minors for the Athletics, hitting 98 homers from 2008-2010 across 3 minor league levels. He has kind of stagnated in AAA, but has appeared in 34 games in the Majors across the last 2 years.
- Aaron Cunningham spent the 2008 and 2009 seasons between Sacramento and Oakland, posting a .211/.271/.338 slash line with 2 home runs and 2 stolen bases in 45 games. He was traded to the Padres along with OF Scott Hairston in exchange for 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff and SS Eric Sogard.
- Dana Eveland was plugged into the rotation spot vacated by Haren when he arrived, and posted a 11-13 record with a 4.92 ERA in 212 innings. While he provided slightly better than average innings (0.8 WAR), his walk rate (108 BB) and WHIP (1.627) were very poor. He was traded by the team on February 7, 2010 to the Blue Jays as a part of a conditional deal, and it doesn't appear that the Athletics received anything for him.
- Greg Smith spent the 2008 season in the A's rotation, posting a 7-16 record with a 4.16 ERA and 1.345 WHIP. He did post a 2.0 WAR in his season, and was moved after the season.
- Carlos Gonzalez spent part of the 2008 season in AAA, and the rest of the season in Oakland. He hit .242/.273/.361 with 4 home runs, 26 RBI, and 4 SB. He posted a very solid 1.1 WAR, but the offense seemed to be a bit of a disappointment. The A's used Gonzalez as the key piece in a blockbuster trade, sending him, Huston Street, and Greg Smith to the Rockies for OF Matt Holliday.
- Scott Schoeneweis spent parts of the 2009 season working in the bullpen for the Diamondbacks, but the season was marred for him by the tragic death of his wife in May of that year. He returned in June, but struggled, and was eventually placed on the disabled list for the remainder of the year. He became a free agent after the 2009 season.
- Joe Saunders has been in the rotation for the Diamondbacks since being acquired in 2010. He has posted a 11-16 record with a 3.76 ERA in 235 2/3 innings pitched so far, good for a 1.8 WAR.
- Tyler Skaggs was viewed as the key piece in the trade, and has definitely performed like it. He has been in AA most recently, and has combined to strike out 185 batters and walk 47 in 148 1/3 innings between the two seasons.
- Patrick Corbin has been a solid minor league starting pitcher to this point as well, striking out 156 batters and walking 52 in 168 innings pitched between High-A and AA.
- Rafael Rodriguez has only pitched a total of 2 2/3 innings in the Majors since the trade, and currently remains with the Diamondbacks AAA team.
- Matt Holliday was a huge acquisition for the Athletics, but his time in Oakland didn't really turn out the way anyone had hoped. He posted a solid .286/.378/.454 slash line with 11 home runs, 54 runs batted in and 12 stolen bases. While good for a 2.2 WAR while in Oakland, the team fell out of contention pretty quickly, and he was traded on July 24th, 2009 to the Cardinals for prospects Clayton Mortensen, Brett Wallace, and Shane Peterson
- Kevin Kouzmanoff was plugged in after the 2009 season as the starting 3B for the Athletics, but has struggled to duplicate the offense he showed in San Diego. He has a .242/.279/.387 slash line in 1 1/2 seasons, with 20 home runs and 88 runs batted in, but has struggled mightily in 2011. He is currently playing 3B for the A's AAA affiliate in Sacramento.
- Eric Sogard has received a pair of cups-of-coffee with the big club, hitting .237/.326/.316 in 15 total games.
Level 3 - Athletics
- Shane Peterson has been in the minors for the Athletics since his acquisition in July 2009. He has split time this season between AA and AAA, posting a .293/.377/.479 line with 6 HR and 32 RBI in AAA. He is currently in AA.
- Clayton Mortenson was with the organization through 2010, posting a negative WAR in 33 2/3 innings pitched at the Major League level. He was traded to the Rockies on January 24 of this year for minor leaguer Ethan Hollingsworth.
- Brett Wallace finished the 2009 season with Sacramento, hitting .302/.365/.505 with 9 home runs and 28 RBI in a little over a month of time. He was traded to the Blue Jays on December 16, 2009 in exchange for minor league OF Michael Taylor
Level 4 - Athletics
- Michael Taylor is currently playing in AAA Sacramento for the second season in a row, He struggled in 2010, but has been better in 2011, hitting .283/.375/.469 with 13 HR, 49 RBI and 10 SB in just 78 games.
- Ethan Hollingsworth has pitched the entire 2011 season at AA, posting a 5-5 record with a 3.80 ERA in the Texas League. His strikeout rate isn't anything special (64 strikeouts in 87 2/3 innings pitched), but he seems like a decent prospect.
It's hard to realize sometimes just how big of a trade this really ended up being at the time. The A's received the #1, #3, #7, and #8 prospects from the Diamondbacks according to Baseball America that offseason. And two other players. But the Diamondbacks still received a clear top-tier starting pitcher, and one who was signed at the time for less than $20 Million for the following 3 seasons.
The trade actually worked for both teams in my opinion, and is one of the few times where all parties dowell in the trade. It remains to be seen whether or not the A's will continue to get more value from this as players like Carter and Taylor get tot he Majors, but they've definitely done alright to this point. The hard part is looking at some of the transactions related after this one, as the Matt Holliday traded hasn't really worked out the way they hoped it would.