Billy Beane pulled the trigger on a surprising trade during the 2007-2008 offseason by sending Dan Haren to Arizona. At the time, Haren had three seasons remaining on his contract – part of an extension that held a value of roughly $16 million. He was coming off a career best season according to FanGraphs WAR, and had win values of 4, 4, and 4.9 in the past three seasons. In exchange for Haren (and Connor Robertson) the A’s received Brett Anderson, Chris Carter, Aaron Cunningham, Carlos Gonzalez, Dana Eveland, and Greg Smith.
That package appeared to include the Diamondbacks’ best and brightest; with four of the D-Backs’ top ten heading to Oakland: Gonzalez (1), Anderson (3), Cunningham (7), and Carter (8). Gonzalez (22) and Anderson (36) also earned placement on BA’s subsequent top 100 list, suggesting they were amongst the game’s 40 best prospects.
Garza has three years of control remaining but lacks the locked-in salary and performance that Haren held. Garza has about eight wins over the last three years, halving Haren, but carries ostensible upside and the benefit of moving out of the game’s best division. For those reasons, though, Garza likely holds less trade value now than Haren did then.
Nevertheless, the package that Bruce Levine reported about doesn’t seem too farfetched. Robinson Chirinos is the only player named, and while BA will not release their top 10 list for the Cubs until 2011, Kevin Goldstein ranked him as the system’s twelfth best prospect. The identities of the other three players are unknown, but one has to assume that the shortstop prospect might be Hak-Ju Lee (whom Goldstein ranks as the fifth best) and outfielder Brett Jackson (ranked as the system’s best prospect). The last player, again reported as a top prospect, could be one of the Cubs’ arms, like Trey McNutt (second), Chris Archer (third), Chris Carpenter (sixth), or Jay Jackson (ninth). Jackson ranked 74th on BA’s top 100 list last season and after hitting .316/.420/.517 at High-A and .276/.366/.465 at Double-A without showing a notable weakness, he figures to move up – perhaps into the top 50. The pitcher Jackson also finished in the top 100, at 98.
A Garza-to-Chicago deal probably won’t top the Haren-to-Arizona in terms of mass or quality, but really it shouldn’t. Haren was the better pitcher. Don’t be surprised if Garza is dealt, nor if the trade quickly replenishes the Rays’ system alongside the upcoming draft.