- Jayson Stark, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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The New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks were "never close" to a deal for Dan Haren on Friday, despite widespread reports that the Yankees had separated themselves from the other bidders for the right-hander, a source familiar with the discussions told ESPN.com.
The two teams did swap names Friday, the source said. But the Yankees rejected a Diamondbacks proposal that would have sent Joba Chamberlain, highly regarded pitching prospect Ivan Nova and two other prospects to Arizona for Haren.
The Yankees, instead, have proposed an entirely prospect-based deal, which Arizona rejected. Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall told reporters in Phoenix that other teams had made offers of "at least equal value" to what the Yankees proposed.
Another sticking point between the two teams, the source said, is how much of the $33 million remaining on Haren's contract the Diamondbacks are willing to pay. Arizona's initial proposal would have required the Yankees to assume Haren's entire contract. The Yankees, and other clubs the Diamondbacks have spoken with, want the quality of the players in the deal to be dependent on how much of Haren's money Arizona is willing to pay.
The Cardinals, Phillies, Dodgers, Tigers and Twins are all known to have expressed interest in the 29-year-old Haren. However, Haren has a partial no-trade clause that would require his permission before he could be dealt to the Tigers or Twins, the source said.
Haren has emerged as one of the most sought-after starters as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches. He is in the second season of a four-year, $44.75 million contract with a club option for $15.5 million in 2013. If the option is not picked up, Haren is due a $3.5 million buyout.
Though their deep rotation has been a strength all season, the Yankees seem intent on trying to acquire a front-line starter. They came close to landing lefty ace Cliff Lee two weeks ago before Seattle traded him to AL West-leading Texas. Since then, 38-year-old New York lefty Andy Pettitte went down with a groin injury and is expected to be sidelined until at least mid-to-late August.
Sergio Mitre is set to take Pettitte's spot in the rotation.
The Yankees, who have the best record in the majors, want to limit young right-hander Phil Hughes' innings this year. Hughes flourished as a setup man last season and Chamberlain has struggled in that role this year.
Haren's name was off his locker and most of his gear was gone before Friday night's game against San Francisco, but it turned out to be a practical joke by his teammates.
Haren is 7-8 with a 4.60 ERA for the last-place Diamondbacks, but he entered Friday night tied with Florida's Josh Johnson for the NL lead in strikeouts at 141. He has walked just 29 batters this season.
However, Haren also leads the majors in hits allowed (161) and is second in the NL to teammate Rodrigo Lopez in most home runs allowed (23).
The Diamondbacks acquired him from the Oakland Athletics on Dec. 14, 2007 after Arizona finished with the NL's best record that season and made a surprise run to the NL championship series. The pitching duo of Brandon Webb and Haren was supposed to be one of the most formidable in baseball. But the team has headed downhill, finishing last in the NL West in 2009 and mired there again this season. Webb hasn't pitched since the 2009 season opener because of a shoulder injury that eventually required surgery.
Haren, on the other hand, has been among the game's most durable pitchers with at least 33 starts and 216 innings each of the past five seasons. He has made 21 starts this year and was fifth in NL Cy Young Award voting last season. Since he came to Arizona, he is 37-26 with a 3.56 ERA.
Haren's next scheduled start is Tuesday at Philadelphia. For his career, he is 86-70 with a 3.71 ERA with St. Louis, Oakland and Arizona.
Jayson Stark is a senior baseball writer for ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.