Dan Haren Rumors

West Notes: Mariners, Cruz, Padres, Haren

The latest out of the game’s western divisions:

  • The Mariners have had conversations with Nelson Cruz and his agent since the start of the offseason, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports. According to Morosi, Seattle does not have a club policy against signing players with past PED suspensions. A recent report stated that the team backed off of Cruz last year because of his recent Biogenesis situation, but it appears that will not be a roadblock this time around.
  • The Padres will listen to trade offers for their top three pitchers (Ian Kennedy, Andrew Cashner, and Tyson Ross) as well as catchers, Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported yesterday. Presumably it would take quite an offer to part with Cashner or Ross, and Kennedy could be held and reassessed at the trade deadline. Behind the plate, the 26-year-old, former top prospect Grandal has yet to establish himself fully. Though he posted a solid 112 wRC+ last year, he also rated as one of the league’s worst defensive catchers. Rivera, meanwhile, came out of nowhere to post by far his most extensive and productive MLB season in 2014, slashing .252/.319/.432 over 329 plate appearances while grading out as one of the game’s best-fielding backstops.
  • Righty Dan Haren of the Dodgers has come up in trade chatter, but could retire if he is dealt away from Los Angeles, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Haren exercised a $10MM player option to stay on the west coast, and Heyman indicates that he might prefer to hang up his spikes than pitch for any other club but the cross-town Angels.

Dan Haren Exercises Player Option

Dodgers right-hander Dan Haren has exercised his $10MM player option for the 2015 season, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times tweets.

Haren, who turned 34 in September, signed a one-year, $10MM contract with the Dodgers last offseason that contained a $10MM player option that would vest upon reaching 180 innings. Haren ended up totaling 186 innings in Dodger blue, posting a 4.02 ERA with 7.0 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 and a 41.5 percent ground-ball rate.

Haren could have hit the open market in search of a larger guarantee, perhaps on a two-year deal, but he’s stated in the past that proximity to his family is of the utmost importance to him, so remaining with them in Los Angeles is likely a key component of this decision. He spoke openly and honestly with Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post in 2013 about how difficult his year with the Nationals was from a personal standpoint, as he had never previously been so far away from his wife and children.

Barring any sort of trade, Haren will return to a rotation that features Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-jin Ryu. It won’t be a surprise to see them seek further rotation depth via trades and/or free agency this offseason.


Dan Haren’s 2015 Option Vests

7:41am: Haren insisted to reporters last night, including Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times (Twitter link), that he wouldn’t make a decision on whether or not to exercise his option until after the Dodgers’ season is over.

10:48pm: Dodgers starter Dan Haren now holds a $10MM player option for next season after notching his 180th inning on the year. By reaching that mark, he also triggered a $500K bonus (on top of $1.5MM in innings-pitched and games-started bonuses already met).

Haren, who just turned 34, joined the Dodgers on a one-year, $10MM deal that was filled with a variety of incentives. He has now achieved most of them, including the most valuable: the $10MM player option for next year. At one point, 180 innings seemed like a long shot, but Haren fought through a mid-season swoon and re-emerged as a much-needed piece of an injury-riddled rotation. Barring a decision to retire, Haren would seem to be fairly likely to take the option to continue throwing in his native California.

Of course, Haren could in theory still be tempted to test the open market. He has had an up-and-down year, but entered the day with a 4.14 ERA on the back of 6.9 K/9 against 1.9 BB/9. That strikeout total would be his lowest since he became a full-time big league starter back in 2005.

But Haren remains a solid innings-eater (at worst) with plenty of value. Though his days of logging well over 200 frames a year in the low-to-mid 3.00 ERA range are probably over, he has still managed to make 30 starts a year going all the way back to that ’05 campaign. And ERA estimators believe Haren to be as good or better than his earned run totals would suggest: this year, he owns a 4.19 FIP, 3.74 xFIP, and 3.80 SIERA.



2015 Vesting Options Update

The state of next year’s free agent class will be impacted by whether or not players with vesting options in their contracts achieve the necessary playing time to trigger those conditional options. As we near the end of the season, here’s a rundown of these players and their progress toward triggering their options …

  • Nick Punto, Athletics: Punto has a $2.75MM club option that will automatically vest if he spends fewer than 30 days on the disabled list, assistant GM David Forst told reporters at the time of the signing. Though Forst did add that there are other ways for Punto’s option to vest, the health route is no longer available. Punto was only activated yesterday — ten days into the September active roster expansion — after going on the DL on August 3rd. If the option doesn’t vest, the A’s have the choice of picking him up at $2.75MM or buying him out for $250K.
  • Rickie Weeks, Brewers: Weeks has an $11.5MM option that won’t be vesting, as he would have needed to total 600 PA in 2014 or 1,200 PA in 2013-14 and finish the season healthy. He has just 255 PAs on the season, so he’ll fall well shy of that mark. Weeks will also fall shy of reaching 400 PAs, which would have entitled him to a $1MM buyout of his option.
  • Jimmy Rollins, Phillies: Rollins’ option vested earlier this year when he reached 1,100 plate appearances over 2013-14. (He has also made 600 trips to bat in 2014, an independent basis for triggering the provision.) That clause, however, also required that he not finish the year on the disabled list, and Rollins left yesterday’s game with a hamstring injury. Word is that Rollins should be able to return, but with just three weeks left even a minor setback could well end his season. Nevertheless, Philadelphia would need to go out of its way to place him on the DL at this point, with active rosters expanded. And, in any event, the option would still vest if a mutually agreed-upon doctor deemed Rollins ready to start the 2015 season.
  • Dan Haren, Dodgers: Haren needs 180 innings to trigger a $10MM player option for the 2015 season. Heading into his scheduled outing this evening, he has already notched 162 frames. Haren should be in line for at least three more starts (including tonight’s) before the end of the month, and maybe another depending upon how the club approaches the last few games of the year. Having averaged 5.79 innings per start on the year, it will be incumbent on Haren to pitch his way to the option — especially in the midst of a playoff race and backed by a well-stocked bullpen.
  • Mike Adams, Phillies: Adams’ $6MM club option for 2015 would have vested with 60 innings pitched in 2014, but he’s obviously not going to get there with just 17 2/3 innings in the tank. Adams has thrown just 42 2/3 innings in his season-and-a-half with the Phils, and it seems highly unlikely that the team will pick him up at $6MM given his injury troubles. He should, however, be an attractive buy-low candidate given his general success when on the field.
  • Rafael Soriano, Nationals: Soriano’s $14MM club option vests with 120 games finished over 2013-14. While that always seemed a longshot, any realistic hope was snuffed out when Soriano lost his closing gig to Drew Storen, the man he replaced when he signed on with Washington. Whether or not Soriano makes it back into the 9th inning role over the next few weeks, he now sits at 104 games finished over the last two seasons, making it all but impossible for him to trigger the vesting provision. With the Nationals all but certain to decline their club option on Soriano, he should make for an interesting free agent to watch.
  • Kyuji Fujikawa, Cubs: The Cubs hoped that Fujikawa, one of the best relievers in Japanese history, would help to fortify their bullpen when they signed him to a two-year, $9.5MM contract in the 2012-13 offseason. Instead, both player and team received a hefty dose of bad luck when Fujikawa needed Tommy John surgery after just 12 innings last season. He has a vesting option based on games finished, but the 33-year-old has made it back for only 10 1/3 innings in 2014 and surely won’t be crossing that (unreported) threshold.
  • Sean Burnett, Angels: Burnett’s $4.5MM club option vests if he appears in a total of 110 games between 2013-14, but like Fujikawa, he’s been plagued by injury and has no chance of that happening. Burnett has appeared in just 16 games total over the past two seasons and underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this year. The Halos will certainly be paying the $500K buyout on his club option.
  • Scott Downs, White Sox: Downs had a $4MM vesting option that would have vested with 55 appearances, as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reported in June (via Twitter). Though he appeared to be headed in that direction earlier in the year, the White Sox cut bait with Downs and his then-6.08 ERA. He owns a 3.55 mark over 12 2/3 innings with the Royals — who signed him to a separate, minor-league deal — and has now thrown in 53 games, but the vesting clause is now a moot point.

2015 Vesting Options Update

The state of next year’s free agent class will be impacted by whether or not players with vesting options in their contracts achieve the necessary playing time to trigger those conditional options. Here’s a rundown of these players and their progress toward triggering their options…

  • Nick Punto: Punto has a $2.75MM club option that will automatically vest if he spends fewer than 30 days on the disabled list, assistant GM David Forst told reporters at the time of the signing. He did add that there are other ways for Punto’s option to vest, though for the time being, he’s on pace to see his option vest simply due to the fact that he’s avoided the DL entirely. If the option doesn’t vest, the A’s have the choice of picking him up at $2.75MM or buying him out for $250K.
  • Rickie Weeks: Weeks has an $11.5MM option that won’t be vesting, as he would need to total 600 PA in 2014 or 1,200 PA in 2013-14 and finish the season healthy. He’s being platooned heavily with Scooter Gennett and has just 112 PAs on the season, so he’ll fall well shy of that mark. Should he reach 400 PAs (which only seems likely in the event of Gennett injury), Weeks would be entitled to a $1MM buyout of his option.
  • Jimmy Rollins: Rollins’ option vests if he reaches 600 PA in 2014 or if he totals 1,100 options from 2013-14 and finishes the season on the active roster. He’s 141 PA shy of that combined 1,100 number, meaning he’s highly likely to end up with an $11MM guarantee for 2015.
  • Dan Haren: If Haren pitches 180 innings or more in 2014, he triggers a $10MM player option for the 2015 season. He’s averaging just over six innings per start, so he’s on pace to clear that mark given 30-31 starts. However, if he finishes the season anywhere near his current 3.54 ERA, he may prefer to test the open market in search of a multi-year deal.
  • Mike Adams: Adams’ $6MM club option for 2015 vests with 60 innings pitched in 2014, but he’s once again on the disabled list for the Phillies and has thrown just 17 innings. Adams has thrown 42 innings in his season-and-a-half with the Phils, and it seems highly unlikely that they would pick him up at $6MM given his injury troubles.
  • Rafael Soriano: Soriano’s $14MM club option will vest if he finishes 120 games combined in 2013-14. He’s currently at 81 games finished on the season, meaning he’d need to finish a rather unlikely 39 of his team’s final 92 games (42 percent) this season. Should the option vest, half of his salary will be deferred and paid in annual installments from 2018-25.
  • Kyuji Fujikawa: The Cubs hoped that Fujikawa, one of the best relievers in Japanese history, would help to fortify their bullpen when they signed him to a two-year, $9.5MM contract in the 2012-13 offseason. Instead, both player and team received a hefty dose of bad luck when Fujikawa needed Tommy John surgery after just 12 innings last season. He has a vesting option based on games finished, but the 33-year-old hasn’t pitched in 2014 and surely won’t be crossing that threshold.
  • Sean Burnett: Burnett’s $4.5MM club option vests if he appears in a total of 110 games between 2013-14, but like Fujikawa, he’s been plagued by injury and has no chance of that happening. Burnett has appeared in just 16 games total over the past two seasons and underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this month. The Halos will certainly be paying the $500K buyout on his club option.
  • Scott Downs: Downs has a $4MM vesting option, and while the specifics haven’t been reported, Ken Rosenthal noted at the time of the deal that it would vest were Downs to pitch “a normal workload.” He’s headed in that direction, as he’s on pace for his highest innings total since 2011. Downs has pitched to a 5.48 ERA in his 23 innings, so the White Sox may not wish to see that option vest. Then again, he has a 3.95 ERA dating back to May 3, so he’s shown some signs of improvement.

Dodgers Sign Dan Haren

A down-and-up 2013 season did not prevent Dan Haren from landing an eight-figure guarantee, as the hurler has officially agreed to a one-year, $10MM deal with the Dodgers. The contract includes a $10MM option for 2015 that vests if Haren throws 180 innings. Haren is represented by Greg Landry of CAA Sports.

USATSI_7409866_154513410_lowresBoth the guaranteed and the option year base salaries could be boosted significantly by incentives. Haren can make up to $3MM in added cash in 2014 based upon games started and innings pitched, beginning at 24 starts and 150 innings pitched. 

Haren, 33, posted a 4.67 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 2013. His peripherals indicated that he deserved better than his ERA indicated, with an xFIP a run lower. Given that Haren isn't particularly old and that he's pitched at least 169 2/3 innings in every season since 2005, $10MM seems like a somewhat low total, particularly in an offseason in which Tim Lincecum got two years and $35MM and Jason Vargas got four years and $32MM. Still, MLBTR's Steve Adams had Haren pegged at one year and $10MM exactly, noting that Haren has already made $61MM in his career and might be willing to take less to stay near his family on the West Coast. Haren made $13MM last season as a member of the Nationals.

On Wednesday, we learned that Haren was talking to the Dodgers. He will join a Dodgers rotation picture that includes Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley, though Billingsley had Tommy John surgery in April, and Beckett's health is also in question. Indeed, Dodgers' GM Ned Colleti says he is still considering adding another arm to the club's mix of starters.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter) first reported the deal. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported via Twitter the vesting and incentive mechanisms. Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times tweeted the deal's finalization and final terms.

Charlie Wilmoth and Jeff Todd contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Dodgers, Giants Talking With Dan Haren

THURSDAY: The Giants are also talking to Haren, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link).

WEDNESDAY: The Dodgers have been in touch with Dan Haren's agent, and "there's some interest on both sides," according to Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles (on Twitter).

Haren, 33, pitched to the worst full-season ERA of his career in 2013 (4.67), but he finished particularly strong after returning from a stint on the disabled list this summer. Over his final 15 starts (16 appearances, as he made an unexpected relief appearance in a 15-inning game and earned his first big league save), Haren posted a 3.29 ERA with 84 strikeouts against 18 walks in 87 2/3 innings of work.

Haren was candid at season's end about the difficulty he had pitching in a city where he had few friends upon his arrival and being away from his family for the first time. Haren's wife and children live in southern California and he's from the L.A. area (Monterey Park), so the Dodgers would seem to be a logical fit for the former ace.

Haren has also been connected to the Twins, Yankees and Giants early in the offseason, though San Francisco reportedly hasn't been as aggressive in their pursuit and has already inked Tim Hudson to a two-year deal. I pegged Haren for a one-year, $10MM contract in my free agent profile earlier this month.


Giants Notes: Hudson, Lopez, Arroyo, Haren

The Giants' two-year, $23MM deal with Tim Hudson is drawing praise from several pundits.  MLBTR's Steve Adams, Fangraphs' Dave Cameron and ESPN's Keith Law all see the contract as a possible steal for the Giants since even coming off a fractured ankle, Hudson doesn't carry as many question marks as other starters who may command much larger deals.  Here's some more on the Giants…

  • The Giants don't like any of the free agent options to fill their hole in left field and will look to trade for outfield help at the Winter Meetings, CSNBayArea.com's Andrew Baggarly reports.  The club could end up settling for a left-handed hitter to platoon with Gregor Blanco in left.
  • Also from Baggarly, the Giants have made some progress in talks with Javier Lopez.
  • The Giants are still looking for a left fielder and one more starting pitcher, ESPN's Buster Olney reports.  Olney guesses that Bronson Arroyo or Ryan Vogelsong could be that pitcher, depending on which contract is the better fit (Twitter links).  Vogelsong would obviously come at a much lower price than Arroyo, though if San Francisco could cheaply address their left field situation, I could see them spending extra to acquire Arroyo.
  • The Giants checked in on Dan Haren, Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Twitter link) but "other teams [were] far more aggressive," according to a source.  The Twins and Yankees have been linked to Haren so far this offseason.
  • Also from Schulman, it seems as if the Giants aren't going to offer any starter more than three guaranteed years.  This could keep them from landing Ricky Nolasco, who is looking for a four-year contract.

Giants Notes: Hudson, Sandoval, Haren

The latest out of San Francisco..

  • One of the Giants’ chief pitching targets, Tim Hudson, is now willing to move across the country to pitch for the right team, sources tell Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.  Schulman also hears that the Braves offered him a contract with a significantly smaller salary than he earned last year ($9MM), one he is not inclined to accept.
  • Schulman also caught up with MLB Network's Peter Gammons in Orlando, who told him the Giants are getting a lot of calls on Pablo Sandoval. It would make sense to listen on Sandoval because he is only signed through 2014 and has an injury history, but both reporters have heard that San Francisco not inclined to trade him because they have no real alternatives at third base.  The Giants also can't afford to lose Sandoval's power.
  • David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (on Twitter) hears the Giants are serious about signing a Hudson or Dan Haren type to a one- or two-year deal with a higher average salary than one might expect.

Giants Notes: Hudson, Arroyo, Haren, Tanaka, Lopez

The Giants haven't needed to focus on upgrading their rotation in a while but the team is clearly looking to add starting pitching this winter.  Here's the latest out of San Francisco…

  • The Giants are looking at a long list of starters that includes Tim Hudson, Dan Haren and Bronson Arroyo, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.  As many as a dozen pitchers could be on the club's wish list, Schulman says, though it isn't yet clear if the Giants will bid on Masahiro Tanaka (Twitter links).  Beyond the Giants, Hudson has drawn interest from seven other teams and is already considering an offer from the Braves.
  • The Giants are "well-positioned" to sign Arroyo, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets, though it depends on how the veteran righty's market develops.
  • The Giants are thought to prefer short-term deals for starters, MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince reports, which would explain their targeting of veteran arms like Haren or Hudson.  Since the Giants' rotation already has some solid pieces, Castrovince argues that GM Brian Sabean should focus most of his available resources on an offensive upgrade like Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo Choo.
  • Since signing Tanaka wouldn't cost the Giants draft pick compensation like some other top free agent pitchers, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle feels the team should put some of its new TV contract money towards acquiring the Japanese right-hander.   
  • Barry Meister, Javier Lopez's agent, tells MLB.com's Chris Haft that a "significant number" of teams have contacted him about his client but Meister is "continuing to talk to the Giants."  Both Lopez and the Giants share a mutual interest in continuing the southpaw's time in San Francisco though since Meister said he has only had "very preliminary" talks with other teams, the market has yet to fully develop for Lopez's services.

MLBTR's Jeff Todd also contributed to this post