After a proposed trade with the Chicago Cubs fell through earlier this winter, the Los Angeles Angels declined the $15.5M dollar option included in the 4-year/$44.75M dollar deal Dan Haren signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2008. In July 2010, the D-Backs traded Haren to the Angels for 23-year-old left-hander Patrick Corbin, 28-year-old right-hander Rafael Rodriguez, 31-year-old veteran lefty Joe Saunders and a PTBNL who ended up being 21-year-old, '09 1st Round pick Tyler Skaggs.
After two years-plus in LA in which he was (33-27) with a 3.52 ERA, 96 walks (1.70 BB/9) and 409 Ks (7.23 K/9) in 79 games and 509.0 IP, the Angels, "... mindful of his high mileage and decreased velocity," as Los Angeles Times' beat writer Mark DiGiovanna wrote at the time, "... determined the 32-year-old right-hander was not worth $15.5 million," so the Angels decided to buy Haren's contract out at a cost of $3.5M.
Haren struggled with lower back issues in 2012, and as the LA Times' Mr. DiGiovanna notes, went on the DL for the first time in his career after seven seasons in which he made every start. In his 10th MLB season after the St. Louis Cardinals drafted him in the 2nd Round of the 2001 Draft, Haren (12-13) with a 4.33 ERA, 4.24 FIP, 38 walks (1.94 BB/9) and 142 Ks (7.23 K/9) in 30 starts and 176.2 IP after a 2011 campaign in which he was (16-10) with a 3.17 ERA, 2.98 FIP, 33 walks (1.25 BB/9) and 192 Ks (7.25 K/9) in 35 games (34 starts) and 238.1 IP.
Haren's manager in LA, Mike Scioscia, told the Los Angeles Times that he expected a strong comeback from the pitcher in 2013 after a tough season. "'I wouldn’t give up on Dan Haren,'" Scioscia says, "'A lot of people might feel he took a step back this year, but this guy competes so well that I think he’s a guy who will rebound and be strong next year.'"
The Washington Nationals are hoping LA's manager is right. The Nats, as FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal reported this morning, have signed Haren to a 1-year/$13M dollar deal this afternoon pending a physical, leaving Haren with more money overall ($13M + $3.5M buyout = $16.5M) than he would have received if the Angels had picked up his option.
Boston Globe writer Nick Cafardo (@NickCafardo) wrote on Twitter this afternoon that the Boston Red Sox didn't like what they saw when they looked at Haren's medical records. Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore's reporting that Haren said he'll have a physical with the Nationals on Thursday, and the pitcher says in the article that he dealt with back issues early in the year but recovered after the DL stint and the hip issue, a long-standing problem, has never caused him to miss time. Plus, as Haren explains, he's already passed one physical this winter and, "'The team was much less concerned about me physically after looking at me.'"
The Nationals, according to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark (@JaysonST), aren't done looking for pitching this winter even after signing Haren. "Even if Dan Haren passes his physical," Mr. Stark writes, the Nationals are, "... still looking to add rotation depth. Looking for a John Lannan '6th starter' type of guy." The Nats are also said to be looking for bullpen help while they wait to see if free agent Adam LaRoche will return to play first. Davey Johnson told reporters this afternoon, including ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (@JCrasnick) that he thinks LaRoche will return:
Davey Johnson: "Adam LaRoche is gonna come back. If I have to go to Kansas and take him and all his cattle to Florida, I will.''— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) December 4, 2012
If LaRoche does return the Nationals have a decision to make on Michael Morse, who was pushed out of the outfield by the Denard Span signing and would be blocked at first by LaRoche. Morse's name has come up in rumors repeatedly this week, though no concrete info on any deals has come out thus far. Even without further moves to finalize the Nationals' roster, the Nats' manager is confident that the Nationals are in a good place heading into 2013 and what will likely be his last season on the bench in the majors:
Davey Johnson on 2013; "World Series or bust. That's probably the slogan this year."— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 4, 2012