With one week before the non-waiver trade deadline, the Minnesota Twins are reportedly chasing starting pitching.
Reports last night said the Twins were interested in Houston Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt and Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Dan Haren, who are considered to be the two best starters available in the trade market.
Both of these guys would be an upgrade over at the very least Kevin Slowey. But which one would you rather have?
Oswalt has spent his entire career with the Astros, posting a 143-81 record and a 3.22 ERA over 10 seasons in Houston. He’s having one of his best seasons this year, with an ERA of 3.12 and 117 strikeouts in 124 innings pitched. This is the best ERA he’s had in a season since 2006. Oswalt is locked up through 2011 with a club option for 2012.
Haren has struggled this year with an uncharacteristic 4.60 ERA in 21 starts so far. That would be his highest ERA since starting 14 games for the St. Louis Cardinals in his rookie season in 2003. Haren’s strikeouts remain high (141) and walks remain low (29), but he’s getting hit much harder than in previous years, to the tune of a .285 opponents’ batting average. That’s about 60 points higher than last season’s OBA. And for someone who does give up a lot of homers (tied for the NL high with 23 surrendered), all of those baserunners are making it a long season in the desert.
Oswalt turns 33 later this season, while Haren turns 30.
If the Twins determine their goal is to win now – as in, this year – then Oswalt has to be the guy. I don’t live in Phoenix and have no idea why Haren is struggling, but a 4.60 ERA in the NL is pretty concerning.
But Haren strikes me as a good bounce-back candidate for a team moving forward beyond this season. I have a hard time believing he’s just lost his mojo and won’t find it again. This guy was a pretty dominant pitcher through last season, when he had a 3.14 ERA, 223 strikeouts and a very clean little 1.00 WHIP. He signed a four-year extension for $44.75 million prior to last season, so he has two seasons under control. Plus the contract has a team option for 2013.
Problem with Oswalt is that he has a no-trade clause. He’s reportedly said he won’t play for the Twins rivals in Chicago and Detroit. Not sure how he feels about Minnesota.
My guess is that Oswalt gets traded but not to Minnesota. He sounds like he’s pretty picky about where he ends up.
So I think if the Twins get either of these two guys, it will be Haren. And for the right price, Haren is a solid addition this season and beyond if pitching coach Rick Anderson can figure out what’s wrong with him.