With time ticking away leading up to the trade deadline, the Cubs and Marlins agreed to a trade to send veteran right-hander Dan Haren to Chicago in exchange for minor leaguers Ivan Pineyro and Elliot Soto . The deal brings an end to Haren's brief tenure in Miami after 21 starts and 129 innings.
For the Cubs, the need for reinforcement to their rotation is perhaps the most glaring issue on what is becoming a strong overall roster. Haren will slot into the Chicago rotation behind Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel, and Kyle Hendricks. The front four starters for the Cubs have kept them in the playoff race all season, but the fifth spot has been unsettled lately. Travis Wood was moved to the bullpen in May, paving the way for Tsuyoshi Wada to make seven credible starts before hitting the DL in late June. Since then, Donn Roach, Clayton Richard, and Dallas Beeler have split the work in the back of the rotation with mostly poor results.
While Haren is not the pitcher he was during his prime, the Cubs are paying for veteran stability and innings from the former All Star. Haren has a 3.42 ERA this season, largely on the strength of a 1.74 BB/9 rate and unsustainable runs of BABIP (.248) and strand rate (82.6 %).
Haren has always been a strike-thrower capable of taking the ball every fifth day and eating innings. His stuff has declined consistently over the past several seasons and his fastball now averages just 86. The Cubs certainly understand what they are buying here, and Haren fits fairly well given their short-term needs. They were linked to younger pitchers with more long term control in recent days, but acquiring Haren is a reasonable fall back plan to help their chances at a Wild Card spot in 2015.
For the Marlins, their motivation is clear. They were able to acquire long term assets for a pitcher on an expiring contract who no longer seems like a fit for a qualifying offer in the off season. While the return is not overwhelming, Haren is not an impact player at this point and the ability to add anything of long term value while presumably shedding salary makes the move understandable for the Marlins.
Ivan Pineyro is a 23 year old right-hander who has been starting in Double A for the Tennessee Smokies. In 19 starts this season, Pineyro has worked to a 3.69 ERA on the strength of 7.71 K/9 and 2.52 BB/9 marks. This is his second time being dealt in his young career. The Cubs originally acquired Pineyro from the Nationals in exchange for Scott Hairston in July, 2013. Pineyro was a fairly well-regarded prospect as he climbed through the lower levels of the Cubs system. His introduction to Double A in 2014 was a speed bump that saw him fall off most prospect rankings.
Pineyro works in the low 90s, occasionally touching higher. He rounds out his arsenal with a curveball that flashes above average and a change up that could be average. He has a career mark of 2.59 BB/9 in 419.2 minor league innings, demonstrating solid control.
Elliot Soto is a 25 year old shortstop, who has also been playing at Double A in the Cubs system. Soto was a 15th round pick of the Cubs in 2010 out of Creighton. Listed at 5'9", 160 pounds, the right-handed hitting Soto is known as a strong defensive shortstop. His glove has carried a weak bat through the low minors. Soto has a career .632 OPS in 499 minor league games. This season has seen some of Soto's best offensive production as a pro with a .275/.388/.314 slash line. With just 11 extra-base hits and five stolen bases this year, it is clear that Soto provides little in the way of offensive impact.
Any positive major league value from this deal for Miami is likely to come from Pineyro. His solid showing in Double A this year serves as reason to hope he may still be able to carve out a role as a spot-starter, swing man, or middle reliever. With no offensive contributions to speak of, Soto is likely an organizational player. All things considered, this is a reasonable, if not exciting, deal for both sides. Haren has limited long-term value and Pineyro has enough of a shot to make the deal worthwhile for Miami.