Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Did Cubs screw up on Haren deal? Pitcher happy in D.C. either way

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WASHINGTON - Dan Haren had just opened a Twitter account for the first time - just in time to see his name start popping all over the place, on accounts from the Dominican Republic to Chicago to Southern California, all night long that Friday last November.

"I was just learning how to use it," the Washington Nationals pitcher said. "It was crazy, absolutely crazy."

The only thing that seemed certain - mostly because Carlos Marmol seemed certain, via Twitter reports - was that Haren was headed to Chicago in a Cubs-Angels trade for Marmol.

"We were kind of excited actually," he said.

And then nothing.

The Cubs, who already knew about Haren's cranky back, saw hip damage on the MRIs provided by the Angels and passed on a trade that was otherwise ready for launch.

But did the Cubs screw up? Did they miss an opportunity to acquire a pitcher they might actually have been able to trade in July for young talent - in exchange for a pitcher at least a half-dozen scouts say nobody will want in July even if he's pitching effectively by then?

Cubs officials aren't saying. The front office doesn't comment on specifics about trade negotiations, in particular trades they don't make.

Haren is 4-3 with a 5.17 ERA - but 3-0, 3.15 in his last three starts.

He said he wasn't told why the trade fell through, but says, "if it was because of my hip, it was the same issue that has been there since my Oakland days."

He said if the Cubs - or anyone else - had access to reports from each of his previous three teams, they would have found references to "mobility" issues in the hip that never caused him pain, he said, and first emerged when he began a stretch of seven straight seasons with over 215 innings.

He only had an MRI on it for the first time last season, he said, because the Angels ordered one for his back and took advantage of the lab visit to get pictures of both.

"Maybe it freaked them out that I got MRI'd last year," he said. "I had a lot of knocks on me for health issues. But I've only missed three or four starts in my whole career."

To be fair, Haren had a $15.5 million contract option for 2013 the Angels were only willing to exercise in order to trade him. They told both Haren and the Cubs that much.

The buyout on the option was $3.5 million, and that was all the Angels were willing to pay in total to take the $9.8 million Marmol - a guy the Cubs unsuccessfully offered, with cash, to every team in baseball before reluctantly agreeing to the parameters of the Angels deal, pending the medicals.

Once the deal fell through and the Angels made him a free agent, Haren lasted only a few weeks before Washington general manager Mike Rizzo - who was familiar with Haren since scouting him in college - signed him to a one-year, $13 million deal.

Sources say the Nationals had known about the hip for years.

Haren knew the Cubs deal was all about his flip potential at the trade deadline.

"I was under the assumption that I would pitch there four months and get traded again, unless the team really turned it around," Haren said. "They're more into a rebuilding process, in a really good division, too.

"I guess everything happens for a reason. And it worked out for me coming here."

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on May 10, 2013 9:23 PM.

Samardzija's finger fine; Cub pitching staff's fielding not so much was the previous entry in this blog.

Jackson tries to beat Strasburg for first win as a Cub is the next entry in this blog.

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