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Dan Haren Rumors
THURSDAY: The Giants are also talking to Haren, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link).
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.
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.
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.
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
The Yankees are planning to make Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka a "top priority" this winter and are considered the team to beat in bidding for the 25-year-old, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Writes Passan: "If re-signing Robinson Cano is priority No. 1 for the New York Yankees this offseason, securing the rights to Japanese starter Masahiro Tanaka is No. 1a."
The Yankess "are going to be bold" in bidding for Tanaka, Passan continues. Previously, Passan has spoken with executives who believe that Tanaka's posting fee could top $75MM, although we still don't quite know how the posting system will work going forward. Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball have been working on alterations to the posting process for quite some time, and George A. King III of the New York Post reported earlier today that a resolution could still be several weeks away. Under the previous system, Tanaka could have been posted on Nov. 1.
Passan writes that Yankees officials aren't concerned about previous failures of Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa on the big stage in New York, adding that they liken Tanaka's makeup and personality to that of Hideki Matsui.
The Yankees are in the market for two starting pitchers to pair with CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova next year, Passan continues, and they're intrigued by Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Dan Haren. The Yankees are not expected to be in the market for Ervin Santana, he adds, as they don't feel that he would fit well in New York. Jimenez and Santana would cost the Yankees a draft pick due to the fact that each is all but certain to reject the qualifying offers received on Monday. Garza and Haren did not receive qualifying offers.
The Yankees figure to have some deep-pocketed competition for Tanaka, as the Dodgers are expected to be aggressive in pursuing him, and he's on the Angels' radar as well. Despite the success of Yu Darvish, reports have indicated that the Rangers aren't expected to be big-time players for Tanaka, of whom they don't think as highly as Darvish. The Giants, another team that has spend liberally of late, aren't expected to be serious players for Tanaka either, despite having some interest.
The Yankees' motivation may be greater than that of any other suitor, as Tanaka fits within their desire to reduce payroll below the $189MM luxury tax threshold. Tanaka's posting fee won't count against that tax, and his average annual value could be notably lower than the current crop of Major League free agent pitchers.
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.