- Gordon Edes, Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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BOSTON -- The Red Sox are one of several teams, according to a baseball source, that have talked to the Los Angeles Angels about pitcher Dan Haren, who told the Los Angeles Times he expected to be traded.
Boston's chances of making a deal did not look strong Thursday night, the source said, as the Angels must decide first whether to exercise the $15.5 million option on Haren's contract, and if they do, whether to keep him or deal him. They can buy out his option for $3.5 million, which would make him a free agent.
A long-shot scenario, posited by Mike DiGiovanna, longtime Angels reporter for the Los Angeles Times, has the Angels and Red Sox agreeing to swap bad contracts -- outfielder Vernon Wells for pitcher John Lackey -- as part of a Haren deal.
Angels GM Jerry DiPoto already has traded pitcher Ervin Santana to the Kansas City Royals, and is believed to want to move Haren so that he has money available to re-sign pitcher Zack Greinke, who is a free agent.
Haren, 32, was a horse for the Angels in 2011, going 16-10 in 34 starts in which he threw 238 innings, but was just 12-13 with a 4.33 ERA last season and had back issues that sidelined him twice and placed him on the disabled list once. He wrote in an email to the L.A. Times that he expects to be dealt.
"I have had just a bit of dialogue with the Angels about my situation, but I'm kind of getting the feeling that I'll be traded," he wrote to the Times. "I have no specifics on teams, but that's the vibe I'm getting. It's a little bit disappointing that I won't get to pick where I want to go, but I'm the one who signed on for the option year."
Haren told ESPNLosAngeles.com that pitching for his hometown team has been "a dream come true" but admitted he "doesn't believe the feeling is mutual."
He believes "a trade is the likeliest scenario."
Acquiring Haren on a short-term deal has its appeal to the Red Sox, who are in the market for additional starting pitching but have signaled that they won't be engaged in the bidding for the top arms in a slender free-agent market.
The intriguing aspect involves Lackey and Wells, the outfielder who has been a profound disappointment for the Angels since he was acquired from Toronto, posting a .660 OPS in 2011 and .682 in 2012, when he played just 77 games, missing 58 after undergoing surgery for a torn ligament in his right thumb.
Wells has two years left on a contract calling for him to be paid $21 million in 2013 and $21 million in 2014.
Lackey, whose best years came with the Angels, has two years and $30.5 million left on his contract. He also is coming off Tommy John elbow surgery, which heightens the risk for the Angels, who would essentially be taking him sight unseen. But is that a risk the Angels would be willing to take to get out from under the Wells deal?
Plus, new manager John Farrell has been talking up Lackey as a key part of the rotation in 2013.
But from the Red Sox side, as onerous as the Wells deal might be, they would not be sacrificing any prospects to shore up their pitching, and Wells would at least give them depth at a position where they're lacking. But given the enormity of his contract, and the decline in his skills, it may be grist for speculation but little more.
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