Well, that escalated (and then de-escalated) quickly.
There the Angels were on the verge of making a questionable deal sending Dan Haren to the Cubs for Carlos Marmol and before we knew it, the trade was called off (by the Cubs, no less!) and Haren's options was declined, leaving the Angels with nothing to show for what appeared to be a nice trade asset.
It was all just so... weird.
It was weird that the Angels couldn't get a better deal than Marmol, in the first place, especially if rumors were true that it was the Halos kicking in money, not the Cubs. Sure, Haren was coming off his worst season, but the consensus was he was a good bounceback season. But Marmol was coming off his worst season as well, but a bounceback was not at all expected. In fact, he'd been in decline for so long that the Cubs fans I know were positively ecstatic that they had found a sucker to take Carlos off their hands. Add to the mix that an erratic, control-challenged late-inning reliever is pretty much exactly what the Angels bullpen does NOT need and it was a head-scratching deal all around.
But it wasn't to be anyway, which might ultimately prove to be a blessing in disguise for the Halos, but it doesn't excuse the front office's failing here. They had a deal, it blew up and they were unable to find a Plan B, so they just up and declined Haren's option, leaving them with nothing. How could they get something for Santana and nothing for Haren? Why would they not just pick up the option and continue shopping Haren? What happened that caused the Cubs to pull out (allegedly) of a deal that was so clearly in their favor?
The only explanation that makes any sense to me is that Haren's medical reports are worse than any of us could have imagined. It explains why nobody could trump the lousy Marmol offer in the first place. It explains why Chicago got cold feet. It explains why the Angels didn't want to get caught holding a $15.5 million bag by exercising his option.
Well, there is one alternative explanation and that is that Dipoto screwed up. Maybe he demanded too much from the Cubs. Nobody really seems to know what the final deal was. Maybe the Cubs were going to kick in money and he wanted more. Or maybe he tried to get a prospect added in. Then when things fell apart, he panicked, couldn't get another acceptable deal in place and just let Haren walk rather than drag him and the team through another round of trade talks.
Either way, the Angels come out looking bad. Missing out on getting a return on Haren isn't the end of the world since it isn't like they ended up with another nasty long-term contract on the books. At worst, they wasted a moderate trade asset, which isn't good, but it isn't felony offense. What might actually be worse than burning Haren's value like that is the stench of incompetence that comes with mucking this up and that won't go away until the real story behind this bizarre trade that wasn't comes out... if it comes out.