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- Alex Rios Hires Scott Boras
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- Angels Likely To Trade Kendrick Or Freese
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Dan Haren Rumors
After a down season that saw the Angels decline their team option on him, Dan Haren signed a one-year, $13MM contract with the Nationals with the hope that a return to the Senior Circuit could boost his free agent stock. Unfortunately for Haren, 2013 brought more of the same, for the most part, and he's now set to head into free agency two seasons removed from his last ace-caliber campaign.
Few pitchers in the game can boast better command than Haren, who has averaged more than 1.9 walks per nine innings just once in the past six seasons. Haren walked just 4.3 percent of the batters he faced in 2013, trailing only Bartolo Colon and Bronson Arroyo among free agents.
Haren has only been on the disabled list only twice. While both of those instances have occurred in the past two seasons, Haren seemed perturbed to be placed on the disabled list this season, implying at the time that the move was made more to give him a mental break than due to any true physical ailment in his shoulder.
Whether or not there was an injury severe enough to merit a DL stint, it's hard to argue with Haren's results after the time off. Upon being activated from the DL, Haren rattled off a 3.29 ERA over his final 15 starts (and one relief appearance in which he picked up a save in a 15-inning marathon game). Over those 16 appearances, Haren was in vintage form, striking out 84 batters against just 18 walks in 87 2/3 innings of work. Opponents batted just .228/.271/.355 against Haren in that time.
Both xFIP (3.67) and SIERA (3.60) feel that Haren's ERA should've been at least a full run lower than the 4.67 at which he finished.
National League clubs looking to sign Haren will be pleased with the offense he provides. The average NL pitcher hit .135/.167/.174 in 2013. Haren, who was an excellent hitter in his college days at Pepperdine, has a lifetime .215/.240/.312 batting line in 353 plate appearances. That line isn't pretty, but it's leagues better than most of his mound brethren can boast.
Haren recently turned 33, so while he's on the wrong side of his prime, he's not so old that there's no hope for him to sustain his second-half success over the course of a full a season next year. He didn't receive a qualifying offer from the Nats, so there's no draft pick compensation tied to Haren.
One of Haren's main problems is that he's become increasingly homer-prone since 2012. Always a fly-ball pitcher, Haren's ground-ball rate dropped to a career-worst 36 percent in 2013. For the second straight season, he averaged more than 1.4 homers per nine innings, and that was coming in a pitcher-friendly stadium in the National League. Haren's average fastball velocity has clocked in at 88.7 mph over the past two seasons, which could have something to do with the increase in homers.
Haren's strikeout rate has dropped off in recent years. After averaging 8.7 K/9 with the Diamondbacks, he dropped to 7.2 K/9 with the Angels from 2010-12. This season with the Nationals, his strikeout rate climbed back to 8.0 per nine, but the move back to the NL played a large role in that jump. Haren whiffed nearly half of the opposing pitchers that he faced after facing just four pitchers in 2012. His K% against non-pitchers in 2013 (19.7 percent) was only a marginal improvement over his 2012 mark (19.1 percent).
Hitters are squaring up the ball with more frequency when facing Haren. His opponents' line-drive rate has risen in each of the past three seasons, climbing from 18.8 percent in 2010 to 19.5 percent in 2011 to 20.7 percent in 2012 to 21.9 percent in 2013.
From 2005-11, only CC Sabathia threw more Major League innings than Haren. Once a virtual lock to provide 220+ innings, Haren has failed to top 180 in each of the past two seasons. The 169 2/3 innings he totaled in 2013 are the fewest he's thrown in any full season.
The baseball offseason lines up well with Haren's interests, as he's an avid fan of the NFL and college football. His wife and two young children live in California, and Haren expressed the difficulty he found in being away from them to the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore late in the season: "From a personal standpoint, it was really tough," Haren said. "I hadn’t been away from my kids. It’s a year of their lives I’ll never get back. From that standpoint, it’s sad."
In a candid interview with MASNsports.com's Dan Kolko, Haren recently said that he's never had as much self-doubt as he did in 2013, and coping with his struggles in a city where he knew few people was difficult at times. At a few points, things got so bad that he debated retirement. Haren acknowledged that he won't have as much say in where he lands this offseason as he did in 2012-13, but his preference is to pitch on the West Coast. His hometown of Monterey Park, Calif. is just minutes outside of Los Angeles and is a mere 120 miles from San Diego. Having spent 2005-07 with the A's, the Bay Area is a familiar environment as well, and both Oakland and San Francisco could look to add a veteran starter this winter.
If Haren can't find a home on the West Coast, many other teams will be looking for rotation help. The Pirates have shown a recent affinity for starters whose xFIP numbers dwarf their ERA, and Haren fits that mold to a tee. A return to the Nationals could make sense given his strong finish and the fact that the city no longer feels so unfamiliar. The Orioles, Yankees, Blue Jays and Phillies could all use rotation help, though their hitter-friendly environments may not be a fit for a pitcher whose home run rate continues to climb. Earlier today it was reported that the Twins have reached out to Haren as well.
Haren salvaged some of his free agent value with a solid second half upon his return from the disabled list, but he's still likely in for a pay cut on 2013's $13MM salary. Another one-year deal seems to be in the offing for he and agent Greg Landry of CAA Sports, and Haren's frank remarks about the unease he felt playing in an unfamiliar city could suggest that geography will play a larger role in his 2014 destination than it would in most free agents' decisions.
Haren has already banked $61MM in his career, so he could settle for less cash if it meant pitching on the West Coast. Ultimately, while he hasn't resembled his former ace self over the past two seasons, he's done enough to earn more than fellow former ace Roy Halladay. My expectation is that Haren will sign a one-year, $10MM contract.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Josh Willingham's three-year, $21MM contract is the largest free agent contract the Twins have ever issued, but agent Matt Sosnick told Parker Hageman of Twins Daily that Willingham actually turned down a more lucrative offer from a team that was farther west than the Twins are from his Alabama home. More from Hageman's piece and some other Twins-related items below…
- Sosnick also told Hageman he "loves the Twins" and that there's no GM in the game he respects more than Terry Ryan. His respect for the Twins' honesty and player development led him to turn down more money for German outfield prospect Max Kepler back in 2009 to sign with Minnesota. Kepler still signed for $800K, which was, at the time, the largest bonus ever signed by a European prospect.
- Within his piece, Hageman notes that he also spoke with Ryan about the upcoming offseason. Ryan "flinched" when talking about signing pitchers on the wrong side of 30 to multiyear deals, as they're more likely to break down.
- The Twins are one of several teams to reach out to Johan Santana's agent and request his medicals, writes La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Santana's agent, Ed Greenberg, told Neal that his client "still loves Minnesota" and enjoyed working with pitching coach Rick Anderson, who is still serving the same role on the Twins' coaching staff.
- Neal also reports that the Twins have checked in with the agents for Ervin Santana, Ricky Nolasco (who is represented by Sosnick), Dan Haren and Scott Feldman, though their specific level of interest in each is unknown. Ryan told Neal that he thinks the quick turnarounds of the Indians and Red Sox will be good for non-contending teams' chances at signing free agents, as they served as examples that a team's fortunes can change quickly. The Twins won just 66 games in 2013 — just two and three games fewer than the Indians and Red Sox won in 2012, respectively.
- Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported earlier in the week Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano are done for their respective seasons in the Arizona Fall League and Dominican Winter League. Buxton has been battling a left (non-throwing) shoulder strain, and Sano has been diagnosed with a strained UCL in his throwing elbow. Sano's injury sounds more serious, but he's been examined by Dr. James Andrews, who agreed with the team's medical staff that no surgery is necessary. Paul Molitor, the newest member of the Twins' coaching staff, told Berardino that Sano's elbow troubles aren't related to his throwing mechanics.
Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com participated in a live chat with fans today and shared a number of Giants-related hot stove items…
- The Giants "went hard after" Jose Dariel Abreu and offered the Cuban slugger a contract that paid him roughly the same average annual value of his six-year, $68MM deal with the White Sox. The catch was that the Giants' offer wasn't six years long as they didn't want to make that long a commitment to a player that is projected by many scouts to be a future designated hitter.
- Ryan Vogelsong's $6.5MM option won't be picked up by the Giants but Baggarly thinks the veteran righty will re-sign on a cheaper one-year deal with incentives.
- There is mutual interest between the Giants and Javier Lopez, and the money saved by declining Vogelsong's option could help the club afford the veteran southpaw.
- The Giants are "probably not" realistic players for Masahiro Tanaka, as Baggarly figures that his posting price will exceed what the Giants are willing to offer, plus big spenders like the Dodgers and Yankees are in the mix. Baggarly reported in August that San Francisco had an interest in the Japanese righty.
- Brandon Belt could be approached about a contract extension in Spring Training but the Giants will just work out a one-year deal in the meantime to cover Belt's first year of arbitration eligibility. MLBTR's Matt Swartz projects Belt to earn $2.4MM in 2014 and MLBTR's Tim Dierkes suggests that Allen Craig's extension could be a model for a Belt extension, though with some adjustments since Belt is a Super Two player.
- The Giants are looking only for "reliable innings guys" in their rotation so the likes of Roy Halladay, Tim Hudson and Josh Johnson will only draw the club's interest if they're healthy.
- Though the Giants are looking for a right-handed power bat and might trade prospects to get one, the club is unlikely to move the likes of Kyle Crick, Edwin Escobar or Adalberto Mejia.
- When it comes to left field, the Giants may prioritize defense. Baggarly expects San Francisco to look for a left fielder in a trade rather than free agency.
- Baggarly hasn't heard Scott Kazmir's name mentioned as a possibility in San Francisco.
- Mark Trumbo "has his admirers in the [Giants] front office." While the Angels are known to be willing to move Trumbo for young pitching talent, I'm not sure the Giants are a good trade partner given that they're looking for arms themselves.
- Given Marco Scutaro's age, Brandon Phillips "makes a lot of sense" for the Giants. Baggarly makes it clear that he's only speculating, however. Phillips is rumored to be on the shopping block but Reds GM Walt Jocketty recently denied that he's talked about Phillips with other teams.
- The Giants are very unlikely to surrender their first round (14th overall) draft pick to sign a free agent who has rejected a qualifying offer. This could have a major impact on the chances of the team pursuing Bronson Arroyo, who could be extended a qualifying offer by the Reds. Baggarly feels that Arroyo and Dan Haren are the free agent pitchers who are most likely to be San Francisco targets.
- Recent Pablo Sandoval trade rumors are "total scuttlebutt," in Baggarly's opinion.
It's been an incredible season for Orioles slugger Chris Davis, who has belted a Major League leading 52 homers as of Thursday. Davis is hitting .285/.368/.631, and he leads the league in total bases while sharing the MLB RBI lead with Miguel Cabrera as well. Under team control through 2015 via arbitration, Davis told Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com that he's open to staying in Baltimore longer:
"This has been like a second home for me. This has been a place where I've really felt like I've been accepted, been loved and really appreciated. That's rare in this game to find a place where you can call it home. That's between obviously my agent and the front office, but I'd love to stay in Baltimore."
Here's more on the O's and Nats…
- Jonathan Schoop could be the second baseman of the future for the Orioles, but Melewski isn't banking on him being the O's answer to open the 2014 season. Melewski opines that Schoop probably needs a bit more minor league seasoning and speculates that such thinking could push the Orioles to pursue a one-year deal with free-agent-to-be Brian Roberts.
- Dan Haren has never had as much self-doubt as he had early in the season, the right-hander told Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com. Haren said his first few months with the Nationals were embarrassing, and he struggled mentally and emotionally. Haren candidly admitted that the toll of being in a new city with no family around and few friends worsened those feelings, as he spent a great deal of time alone and thinking about his struggles. Haren has rebounded with a 3.57 ERA over his past 14 starts but knows that he won't have as much say about where he pitches in 2014 as he did when he chose the Nats last year. He did mention his affinity for the West Coast to Kolko.
- MLB.com's Bill Ladson tackles a host of Nationals-related topics in his latest Inbox column. Ladson feels left-handed relief and an improved bench will need to be areas of focus this offseason and believes that Adam LaRoche will be with the team on Opening Day in 2014 despite some speculation that he could be traded.
- Echoing Ladson's point, Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider says that "club officials have given zero indication" to moving LaRoche. Zuckerman speaks to the first baseman himself and Nats manager Davey Johnson about LaRoche's tough season.
- James Wagner of the Washington Post looks at the what-ifs of the Nationals season and wonders how things would have been different had they re-signed Tom Gorzelanny and gotten production from Haren from day one, among many other scenarios.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The Orioles' playoff hopes are hanging by a thread after taking a four-game sweep in Tampa Bay but the greater concern to the team is the status of Manny Machado. In the seventh inning of Monday's 5-4 loss, Machado was running to first on an infield hit and suffered an ugly-looking left knee injury that caused him to be stretchered off the field. Machado will undergo an MRI in Baltimore tomorrow to determine the extent of the damage. If that wasn't enough bad news for the O's, Alexi Casilla is being examined for concussion symptoms after colliding with Nick Markakis on a fly ball.
Here are some items out of Baltimore and Washington…
- The Orioles should make a point to re-sign Scott Feldman this offseason, CSNBaltimore.com's Rich Dubroff opines. Feldman has pitched well since joining the O's and at a price of around two years/$17MM (originally cited by MLBTR's Steve Adams in his Free Agent Profile of Feldman), it's a good value for a team that has a lot of question marks in the rotation heading into 2014.
- Dan Haren doesn't figure he'll return to the Nationals next season and he's considered retirement, but the veteran righty tells MLB.com's Bill Ladson that he wants to keep pitching in 2014. "Retirement has crossed my mind a few times this year, but with the way the year has gone — and the ups and downs — I feel I have something left that could help a team win. I want to give it at least another year and go from there," Haren said. Haren has a 4.87 ERA over 30 games (29 starts) with Washington this season but he has a 3.57 ERA over his last 15 outings since returning from a DL stint. He said he'd prefer to pitch for a west coast team to be closer to his family.
- Randy Knorr, the Nationals' bench coach and top internal candidate to replace Davey Johnson as manager next season, is profiled by Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
In an attempt to compensate for the looming loss of Nelson Cruz to his 50-game suspension, the Rangers tried to swing a big trade for Justin Upton at the July trade deadline, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. The Braves refused a package of Matt Garza, Joe Nathan and David Murphy. If those are the only three players the Rangers offered, it's not a surprise that the Braves passed — Garza and Murphy are eligible for free agency after the season, while Upton is a good young player who is under contract through 2015. Eventually, of course, the Rangers acquired Alex Rios in August. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- The Athletics clinched their second AL West title in a row with an 11-7 win over the Twins on Sunday, and GM Billy Beane says the team's depth has been the key to their smooth season, John Hickey of InsideBayArea.com reports. "We knew going in this was the deepest roster we’d ever had here," says Beane. "We needed that depth, and it paid for itself." As Hickey points out, the Athletics hardly missed a beat all season, even though Brett Anderson, Josh Reddick, John Jaso and Derek Norris all missed significant time. Here are more notes from around the Majors. A quietly brilliant season from Josh Donaldson surely helped, but the A's got solid offensive and defensive performances from most of their hitters, and other than Anderson, their starting rotation mostly stayed healthy.
- After taking in the ceremony for Mariano Rivera and the applause for Andy Pettitte on Sunday, it dawned on injured Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter that he had played his final game with his two retiring teammates, Andy McCullough of the Star Ledger reports. "I’m going to miss them a lot," says Jeter. "These guys have been brothers to me. We’ve been through quite a bit together. Pretty much everything you can experience on a field. In my whole professional career, I’ve been playing with at least one of them." The three had their rookie seasons together with the 1995 Yankees, and Jeter and Pettitte also played on many of the same minor-league teams, including Class A Greensboro in 1992 and and Triple-A Columbus in 1994 and 1995.
- Pitcher Dan Haren thinks the Nationals should aim to keep their team together, writes MLB.com's Andrew Simon. "Last year they had a great year and this year we’ve shown a lot of fight here the last few months. I think as close as things could stay to the guys in this room, I think the better," Haren says. He also appears to support bench coach Randy Knorr for the Nationals' managerial position, which will be open when Davey Johnson retires after the season. Haren himself is a free agent, of course, and he seems aware that he might not be part of the 2014 Nationals, even if they ultimately go with a similar roster: "I know there’ll be some subtle changes, me probably being one of them."
- Now that the Phillies have settled on Ryne Sandberg as their manager, they'll now turn their attention to their coaching staff, MLB.com's Todd Zolecki reports. With a new manager, it's typical to have at least some change in the rest of the coaching staff. Zolecki mentions that one potential change might be re-hiring former manager Larry Bowa in some capacity.
- A "winter of discontent" is on the way for Phillies fans, writes Bob Ford of the Inquirer. After a recent streak of successful seasons, Ford says, a team elsewhere might "get a standing ovation and then be allowed to attempt its rebuilding with patient if not fervent support. That might be the case here as well, if only the team would get on with the rebuilding." Instead, the Phils will head into the offseason expecting to keep aging veterans Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Cliff Lee. They might also go into 2014 with Carlos Ruiz still at catcher, and perhaps also with Roy Halladay in the rotation. Ford compares the Phillies to a rock band who are still touring long past the point where they've lost relevance, "dyeing their hair and wearing hearing aids."
The Yankees and Nationals discussed a possible Dan Haren deal last weekend, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. The two sides never came close to making a trade, and Rosenthal suggests that money might have been part of the reason why — Haren would have only started three times for the Yankees (and wouldn't have been eligible for the playoffs, if the Yankees were to win a spot), but he was still due about $1.5MM in salary. The Yankees' interest stemmed from the recent troubles of Phil Hughes and David Huff.
- Yankees icon Derek Jeter should consider retiring, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. Heyman argues that, after a season ruined by injury, Jeter faces a future in which he might just be a utility player, and that would be an undignified end to a great career. Playing well at shortstop at age 40 is very difficult, and Jeter will face an uphill battle if he tries to return next season.
- The Red Sox have joined the Giants as teams who are scouting Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu in the Dominican Republic, Dionisio Soldevila of ESPNDeportes.com tweets. We've already heard reports of the Red Sox's interest in Abreu, and Boston seems like a good fit for Abreu — the Red Sox have the financial resources to sign him, and Mike Napoli becomes a free agent after the season.
To round out the evening, here are a few links …
- The Red Sox had an opportunity to acquire reliever Francisco Rodriguez from the Brewers, reports CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler, but were unwilling to give up young third baseman Will Middlebrooks to do so. Leaving Rodriguez go to the division-rival Orioles, GM Ben Cherington determined that Middlebrooks could still contribute to the team this season. Of course, he has done just that, posting an excellent .972 OPS since being recalled on August 10th.
- Mariners manager Eric Wedge says that his team has "a lot of guys that have a good chance to be good ballplayers," reports Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, but says he is not sure "we have any superstars." Wedge went on to praise the organization's "volume" of talent. Though intended as a compliment, says Baker, these comments make clear that the team needs to jettison its "risk-averse financial approach" and act boldly on the free agent market to produce a real contender.
- Nationals' starter Dan Haren had a second straight disastrous outing today, once more failing to hang in past the third inning. While Haren had a chance to end his rocky season on a consistent high note after a solid run through much of July and August, his free agent value seems unlikely to make a real recovery at this point. It will be interesting to see how the market values once-excellent starters like Haren, Josh Johnson, and Roy Halladay, each of whom have suffered through miserable seasons in their walk years.
Last night, the Phillies added some pitching depth to their organization with the acquisition of minor league hurlers Rob Rasmussen and Nefi Ogando, in separate trades, for Michael Young and John McDonald, respectively. These are the first of many decisions the Phillies' front office will need to make in anticipation of 2014. Here's more on the Phillies and the rest of the NL East:
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has backed himself into corner where he may not be able to significantly upgrade the team's talent next year, which puts interim manager Ryne Sandberg in a shaky situation and may make him the wrong man at the wrong place at a very wrong time for his long-awaited turn at being a MLB manager, writes the Times of Trenton's Barry Federovitch.
- Another big decision the Phillies have to make is whether to re-sign Roy Halladay, who will be a free agent this winter. Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer opines the Phillies have taken too many risks, health and talent-wise, in recent years which did not work and should not keep another risky proposition like Halladay around even if the price seems right.
- FanGraph's Dave Cameron, in an ESPN Insider subscription-required piece, names Halladay and fellow NL East right-hander Dan Haren as part of an interesting free agent class: broken-but-perhaps-fixable formerly great pitchers.
- There is a "strong expectation" Terry Collins will continue as the Mets' manager in 2014, a source familiar with the situation told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. The source added there is internal respect for how Collins has navigated this year's challenges. Rubin reasons, by not committing to Collins now, it protects the front office in case there is a serious swoon or an unforeseeable major event during the season's final month.
- Ike Davis may not be as fortunate. He will most likley miss the remainder of the year with a strained right oblique and is in jeopardy of being non-tendered this winter, writes Rubin in two separate articles. Rubin compares Davis' situation to that of right-hander Mike Pelfrey who was non-tendered last December when the Mets did not want to risk the raise on his $5.7MM salary. Davis is currently earning $3.125MM and Rubin sees a 2014 salary in the neighborhood of $3.5-4MM; but, with so much money coming off the Mets' books, it might be palatable to carry such a salary rather than non-tender him if no trade materializes.
Here's the latest from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal:
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says he did not make a mistake in claiming David DeJesus, as some speculated at the time. "I wasn’t concerned about being stuck with David, as I like him a lot," says Rizzo. "The player from Tampa Bay is not nearly a sexy prospect, but we had solid reports on him and he will be, at worst, added depth. I would have liked (DeJesus) to go unclaimed — I think I could have made a better deal with several interested teams." After claiming DeJesus, the Nationals quickly sent him to the Rays for a player to be named.
- One reason the Nationals might not be in any hurry to trade Dan Haren, Rosenthal suggests, is that they're still nominally in the playoff hunt. The Nats are currently eight games back of the last playoff spot, but they have a weak schedule down the stretch. Besides, Rosenthal notes, there hasn't been much interest in Haren in the first place.
- Nelson Cruz has been working out at the Rangers' facility in the Dominican Republic. Cruz isn't forbidden to do that, even though he's currently serving a suspension for his involvement with the Biogenesis scandal. The Rangers want to have the option of turning to Cruz in the postseason.
- The Tigers, meanwhile, have "not even discussed" using Jhonny Peralta in the playoffs, according to Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski.