The Diamondback front office must not have been satisfied with last year’s NLCS appearance. The D-Backs were wheelin’ and dealin’ today, first acquiring ace Dan Haren from the Oakland A’s. Haren, who had been rumored in numerous deals throughout the Winter Meetings, was highly coveted by GM Billy Beane due to the length of his current contract, which would have kept his in an A’s uniform through the 2009 season, with a 2010 option. Beane was rumored to be asking for more in return for Haren than the Twins were for Johan Santana, mainly because of his age and contract status. Haren, who went 15-9 with a 3.07 ERA last year with little run support, will form arguably the best 1-2 punch in the league for the D-Backs, along with NL Cy Young runner-up Brandon Webb. In return for Haren, the A’s were able to pick up six prospects, four of which were listed on Arizona’s 2008 Top Ten List, according to Baseball America: outfielders Carlos Gonzalez (#1) and Aaron Cunningham (#7), southpaw Brett Anderson (#3), and 1st baseman Chris Carter (#8). Carter, who was acquired by the D-Backs from the White Sox on December 3rd for outfielder Carlos Quentin, will be packing his bags for the second time in less than three weeks.
And Arizona wasn’t done either. Shortly before the Haren swap, another fairly significant deal was completed, as the D-Backs sent their stud closer, Jose Valverde, east to Houston for reliever Chad Qualls, infielder Chris Burke, and highly-touted pitching prospect Juan Gutierrez. Burke will most likely be slotted into the starting lineup at second for the D-Backs, after the departure of 2B Alberto Callaspo to Kansas City earlier this afternoon. As for Houston, who traded for Miguel Tejada Wednesday, they were able to fill another need, closer, after dealing struggling Brad Lidge to the Phillies in early November. Valverde, 28, who converted 47 of 54 save opportunities (87%) last season in Arizona, shouldn’t have too much trouble adjusting to NL Central hitting.