On Friday night, it was reported by several sources that the Angels and Cubs had agreed to swap starter Dan Haren—whose $15.5 option for 2013 was due to be picked up or declined by 12 AM ET—for reliever Carlos Marmol. Ultimately, the Cubs pulled the offer off the table, killing the deal, and the Angels declined Haren’s option, making him a free agent. But before that happened, Colin Wyers wrote up a reaction to the rumored transaction. This is what we would have said had the trade gone through.


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Did not acquire RHP Carlos Marmol from the Cubs for RHP Dan Haren and cash. [11/2]

Watching Carlos Marmol try to close out a game is a lot like watching an execution by firing squad where the riflemen have been given the blindfolds instead of the condemned man. Marmol is erratic, leading major-league pitchers with an 18.2 percent walk rate in 2012 (minimum 50 innings pitched). He still manages to strike out nearly twice as many hitters as he walks, so he’s not useless, but he is maddening. He did manage to rack up 20 saves in 2012, which was surprising given that he lost the closer’s role for much of the season due to ineffectiveness and the Cubs had a hard time getting to the ninth inning with a lead.

It’s unclear what this means for Ernesto Frieri, who has outpitched Marmol the past several seasons. (Even if you look at save percentage, the two were within a percentage point of each other in 2012.) Either way, Marmol would give the Angels more bullpen depth, but this isn’t a terrible pen, nor is it one without a reasonable option at closer.

More puzzling than what the Angels want with Marmol is what exactly they’re doing with their starting pitching, given that they already dealt Ervin Santana to the Royals this offseason. To be sure, Haren was hurt and not up to his usual standards in 2012, and Santana was just bad. But with Zach Greinke possibly departing via free agency, the Angels could be looking at the departure of three members of their starting rotation in one offseason. They were unlikely to pick up the options on Haren or Santana, but this rules out the possibility of working out deals with either pitcher. It’s too early in the offseason to tell where things are going, but it’s a big question mark for a team that was a playoff contender until late in 2012.

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Did not acquire RHP Dan Haren and cash from the Angels for RHP Carlos Marmol. [11/2]

This shouldn’t be confused with the last time Jerry Dipoto traded Dan Haren; he’s no longer the pitcher he once was, and he’s coming off the worst season of at least 100 innings of his career. More disconcerting, Haren lost nearly 20 games in 2012 to lower back problems.

That said, even if Haren just repeats his 2012 performance or backslides, he’ll be an improvement over much of what the Cubs ran out last season. Chicago’s pitching staff in 2012 was a reenactment of the Charge of the Light Brigade—a bunch of young conscripts, totally unprepared, were sent out against a much better prepared force and took heavy losses as a result with little to show for it. A diminished Haren still shows good odds of improving on that.

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The Angels pitching situation doesn't seem to be any less baffling now than it would be with the Marol-Haren trade happening. What if they aren't able to sign Grienke? Then do they sign Edwin Jackson and...Kyle Lohse?

DiPoto maxed out his credit card last season, and is looking to cut payroll. This isn't very hard to understand, right? Harden, Hunter ans Santana all leaving makes room for a Grienke deal.
There isn't a lot of discussion of financials because at the time there were rumors of money changing hand but without knowing who was getting how much it was hard to work in. If the trade had actually gone through I probably would've revised it.

That said, Marmol makes $9.5 million next season, so depending on the money involved (Ken Rosenthal was talking about the Angels sending $3.5 to the Cubs) this trade may well have been salary neutral.
I can't help but wonder if Dipoto was trying to get a team to take Wells with Haren. That would make taking on a dubious player like Marmol pretty understandable.
Given that Marmol has only a year left at $9.8 million, and has his uses even if he walks the world, the Cubs would laugh hysterically before hanging up if Wells was involved at all.
Haren "lost nearly 20 games" to injury? Maybe I'm missing something here, but he made 30 starts (compared to a previous career average of 33+ since becoming a regular) and threw 176 innings (226). He missed no more than 3 starts in July because of injury, and the reduced inning count isn't just because of injury, it's also because he wasn't very good and didn't go deep into games. Spending 17 days on the DL does not translate to losing nearly 20 games if you're a starting pitcher.

Like many people, I was initially speculating that this deal fell through because the Cubs learned something about his injury and saw him as a 2013-long DL stint waiting to happen. Now I'm not so sure. It'll be interesting to follow the rumor mill on this one.

I'm wondering why the Angels decided to decline Haren's option. Couldn't they have picked it up as insurance in case they can't resign Greinke?

I think Haren's trade value would not take a hit if the Angels threw him on the market around the winter meetings or at whatever point they have Greinke resolved.
My only guess is that they are really afraid of his medicals and the possibility of paying him to sit on the DL next year.