Dan Haren Rumors
In case there are still any questions whether the Nationals' Bryce Harper can continue to adjust to big league pitching as it attempts to adjust to him, this story from Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post may put them to rest. Harper recalls that he began developing a flexible approach at the plate when, as a seven year-old playing in an under-10 tournament, the opposition decided it was too dangerous to give him an inside fastball. Kilgore goes on to explain in detail the development of Harper's swing, and why it is so effective at such a young age. Here are some notes from the Nats and a few of their National League competitors:
- While Nationals starter Dan Haren seems to be turning his season around, Carlos Marmol of the Cubs continues to struggle. As Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes, the Cubs not only missed out on adding a starter to bolster their rotation, but could have flipped Haren for a nice haul at the trade deadline. Of course, the Cubs were apparently close to acquiring Haren before the Angels declined his option and made him a free agent.
- The Phillies should try to trade first baseman Ryan Howard, says David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Looking at the team's free agent options next year, Murphy says there is not much promise for the Phils to improve unless it sheds one of its nine players that stand to make a combined $115MM next season. While acknowledging the limits of Howard's trade value, Murphy posits that the club should agree to eat much of his salary and attempt to obtain a young infielder.This may not be the most promising proposal, however, as Howard's injury history and mediocre start to 2013 (.262/.299/.476 over 137 plate appearances) keep his value down even before looking at his contract.
- Meanwhile, Murphy's Inquirer colleague Bob Vetrone laments that two former Phillies are having an impact elsewhere. Both Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence were traded mid-season last year after the Phillies fell out of contention, and both are off to productive starts this season. Meanwhile, the Phils' outfielders have been among the worst in baseball. On the other hand, those deals brought much needed youth into the Phillies' organization, including two prospects (Tommy Joseph and Ethan Martin) ranked by some in the club's top 15.
- The Mets could make sense as a destination for Shin-Soo Choo when the outfielder reaches free agency this offseason, explains John Harper of the New York Daily News. Choo is currently sitting at third on MLBTR's Tim Dierkes's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings after his hot start for the Reds. According to one big league executive, Choo fits the profile that Mets GM Sandy Alderson will be looking for as a high on-base outfielder with some pop. Certainly, an outfield upgrade is in order for the Mets, as the combined production from Mets outfielders currently rates right alongside that of the Phillies.
For those of you still up watching the epic Giants-Dodgers game unfold tonight, here are a few final notes from today:
- Assessing the Phillies' front office performance this past offseason, Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer leaves litle doubt as to his stance. He writes (via the Miami Herald) that the Phillies built their 2013 team "on the precarious hope that their aging veteran starters would pitch well and that their aging everyday players would regain their productivity. Around that central theme, the front office sprinkled journeymen and prospects who might be good enough if everything else went right." While the Philadelphia sits only three games under .500, that record has been built on a 9-3 mark against the Mets and Marlins. Unfortunately, opines Ford, there is little that the team can do at this point, especially as the team lacks impact minor league talent ready to help the big league club. With a turnaround always at least possible given the team's starting pitching corps, and with trade value difficult to maximize at this point in the year, Ford says that all the Phillies can do is continue down the path they have chosen and continue to hope for the best.
- In yesterday's matchup between likely first-round pitchers Mark Appel of Stanford and Trevor Williams of Arizona State, it was Appel that came up out on top, writes Keith Law of ESPN (on Insider). Law came away impressed with all of Appel's three primary pitches, along with his athleticism and mechanics. He noted that the Astros and Cubs scouts in attendance likely felt the same. Those two clubs, of course, possess the first two picks in the upcoming amateur draft.
- The prospective class of 2014 free agent starters is beginning to look deeper, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Heyman points to recent solid starts from Dan Haren, Jason Vargas, and Phil Hughes. While Heyman also notes that Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum have settled down since their less-than-promising beginnings to the season, both were roughed up again in their latest outings. With more question marks than sure things among the best rotation options in the 2014 market, pitchers like Haren, Vargas, and Hughes have a lot of room to improve their market positioning over the course of this season. Haren, a 32-year-old one-time ace, has battled through an abysmal early-going to register two consecutive starts that were more reminiscent of his former dominance. The 30-year-old Vargas has buttressed his case as a solid innings-eater, going deep into his last three games and maintaining a 3.72 ERA over 38 2/3 innings. And Hughes, still just 26, has steadily improved all year since returning from injury, most recently tossing an eight-inning, four-hit, nine-strikeout, no-run gem against the Athletics.
It wasn’t supposed to happen like this for Dan Haren.
A three-time All-Star with impressive career credentials, Haren figured he would someday hit free agency and cash in with a long-term and lucrative deal.
But Haren, a ten-year big league veteran who has been traded three times, became a free agent for the first time in his career this past offseason coming off a down year and injury concerns to his hip and back.
“I didn’t necessarily hit free agency at the high point of my career,” Haren admits. “I had a lot of good years that if I would have hit the free agency at any of those times I would have been paid extremely well, not that I’m not paid well, but it just so happened that I got a little banged up last year. I’ll just have to prove myself again this year.”
Haren, 32, posted a 4.33 ERA in 176 2/3 innings with the Angels last season, the highest ERA he’s had in any of his eight full seasons. But must of his struggles were due to lower back tightness that he pitched through before eventually landing on the disabled list for the first time in his career in July.
With teams scared due to the back injury and a hip issue that hasn’t bothered him but always shows up during physicals, Haren was forced to take a short-term deal and try his luck again in free agency next year.
The right-hander signed a one-year, $13MM deal with the Nationals in early December, choosing a chance to compete for a World Series over more lucrative offers from other teams.
“I understood,” Haren said of the medical concerns. “I think baseball, their physicals are a lot more thorough these days. I think there were some red flags about my hip issues that I’ve had since my days in Oakland but I’ve never missed a day because of it. I had some back problems, which a lot of people obviously have back problems but structurally everything is fine in my back. Really it was my hip which was a little bit frustrating just being that I had never missed any time because of it.
“I was on the disabled list for a little less than three weeks for my back but I came back and I finished off the season pretty well. I saw the way the market was going and I just wanted to come to a team that was going to give me the best chance to win.”
Haren has proven to be one of the most durable pitchers in recent years, ending a streak of seven straight seasons of at least 200 innings pitched when the short stint on the DL left him at 176 2/3 innings last year. He’s also proven to be one of the best pitchers in recent years, posting a career 3.66 ERA in nearly 1,900 innings since breaking into the big leagues with the Cardinals in 2003.
But it’s been an interesting career path for a pitcher of his caliber. The former second round draft pick of the Cardinals was traded to the Oakland Athletics in a deal for Mark Mulder after making 28 appearances for the Cardinals in 2003 and 2004.
Haren pitched three seasons in Oakland before he was traded again, this time to the Arizona Diamondbacks prior to the 2008 season. He signed a four-year, $44.75MM extension midway through his first season with Arizona but was traded to the Angels at the 2010 trade deadline.
With an option remaining on his contract with the Angels for 2013, Haren wasn’t sure what would happen this offseason. The Angels could have picked up the option to bring him back or released him and allowed him to become a free agent.
Then came news that he had been traded a fourth time, this time to the Chicago Cubs for reliever Carlos Marmol. Or so he thought. The trade appeared to be all-but-done but fell through at the last minute.
“I thought it was happening,” said Haren, who was in communication throughout the day with Angels GM Jerry Dipoto. “We had been texting back and forth all day that day and he told me the deal is pretty much done but it’s not completed so you’re not traded yet, even though everyone was calling me and saying I had been traded and it was on the internet that I was traded.
“I was assuming that I was traded. My family was there and we were all prepared to be with Chicago. It kind of prepared me for free agency, the chance of being on the east coast or the Midwest.”
The Angels declined the $15.5MM option on Haren’s contract by the deadline after being unable to complete the deal or find another willing trade partner. Haren received a $3.5MM buyout and became a free agent.
He went nearly a month before signing, eventually deciding to join an already stacked Washington rotation for a one-year deal shortly before the Winter Meetings.
“Part of it is me proving myself and part of it is coming to a team with one of the best chances to win a World Series,” Haren said. “Obviously their offer financially was competitive with other offers I was getting. That’s always a factor. If anyone tells you that money isn’t a factor, that’s a lie, but their offer was competitive with other teams and then it just gave me the best chance to succeed both personally and team wise.
“As the offseason went along and I was a free agent and taking a short term deal was going to happen, when taking a short term deal, you want to come to a team that is set to win that year and I think the Nationals give me the best chance. To be surrounded by a good rotation, a great bullpen, this lineup and what they did last year, it was kind of a no brainer. It just made sense for me to come here.
“Probably if I waited a little while longer I probably could have gotten another year or two (from another team) but when the Nationals showed interest I was just kind of content coming here for a year and seeing what I could do and seeing how far this team can go.”
And if he proves to be healthy, Haren just might finally get the chance he's waited for next winter.
On this date in 2007 the Red Sox signed free agent outfielder J.D. Drew to a five-year, $70MM contract. Though Drew hit .264/.370/.455 in Boston, he had trouble staying on the field and faced his share of scrutiny over the years. Here are today's AL East links, as Drew's younger brother Stephen prepares for his first season with the Red Sox...
- Dan Haren told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that his agent had a lot of conversations with the Red Sox this past winter (Twitter link). The Nationals ultimately signed Haren to a one-year, $13MM deal.
- Blue Jays right-hander Josh Johnson took note of Felix Hernandez's seven-year, $175MM extension, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports. "It’s kind of hard not to see that. It’s incredible, he deserves it," Johnson said. He'll earn $13.75MM in 2013 before hitting free agency next offseason. The 29-year-old ranked third on MLBTR's initial Free Agent Power Rankings.
- The Blue Jays’ roster includes many players from the 2012 Marlins, but Toronto’s club won’t be so disappointing, Morosi writes at FOX Sports.com.
- Infielder Omar Quintanilla seriously considered the Mets and Orioles this offseason before deciding to sign in New York, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports. The Mets traded Quintanilla to Baltimore for future considerations last July then re-signed him in January after the Orioles non-tendered him.
Earlier today, Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer, manager Dale Sveum, and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein all spoke with the Chicago media. Here's a look at some highlights with all links going to Twitter..
- Sveum told reporters, including Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, that the club expects to finalize a deal with Carlos Villanueva today. The hang up, he said, was over clearing a roster spot for the right-hander.
- However, Bruce Miles of ESPNChicago.com hears that the deal won't be inked today.
- The deal that would have sent Dan Haren to the Cubs for Carlos Marmol was never a completed deal and Hoyer doesn't understand why the word "botched" was used to describe it, Miles tweets. The trade, which was discussed before the Angels' deadline to exercise Haren's option, was initally reported to be agreed upon but was never finalized.
- Hoyer said that second baseman Darwin Barney is a part of their long term plans "for sure", tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com. The Tigers inquired on the youngster last summer.
- Epstein said that if the club sees a can't miss position player available at the No. 2 spot in the draft, they may go that route and stockpile pitching later, tweets Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune.
The Nationals have reached an agreement to sign Dan Haren, the team announced. The CAA Sports client obtains a one-year, $13MM deal.
Haren hit free agency after a trade that would have sent him to the Cubs in exchange for Carlos Marmol fell through last month, with the Cubs reportedly concerned about Haren's medicals. When the Angels couldn't work out a trade, they elected to decline the right-hander's $15.5MM club option, paying him a $3.5MM buyout instead. That $3.5MM, combined with the $13MM from Washington, will ensure that Haren ends up coming out ahead overall, earning a total of $16.5MM.
After posting a 3.33 ERA in 170 games over the course of five seasons from 2007 to 2011, Haren recorded the worst full-season ERA of his career in 2012, with a 4.33 mark. If the 32-year-old is healthy in 2013, he could bounce back and be a steal for the Nats on a one-year deal, though that's no sure thing.
The Nationals' signing of Haren came as a bit of a surprise at least to MLBTR's writers -- none of the eight who made picks in our Free Agent Contest predicted that the righty, who ranked 11th on our free agent list, would end up in Washington. As Rosenthal tweets, the signing figures to take the Nats out of the running for the top arms on the market, including Zack Greinke. Washington won't give up a draft pick for signing Haren, since the Angels didn't make him a qualifying offer.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the agreement (via Twitter). Photo courtesy of U.S. Presswire.
The Red Sox handed out their second three-year, $39MM contract of the Winter Meetings today when they signed Shane Victorino. Here are some more links pertaining to the team...
- Boston made a "competitive" offer to Dan Haren before he signed with the Nationals, tweets Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston.
- Victorino's contract "vaults to the top of the rankings of the worst contracts signed so far this offseason" in the mind of ESPN's Keith Law (Insider req'd). Law writes that with a .244/.311/.391 line in his last 1388 plate appearances versus right-handed pitching, Victorino can be considered a platoon outfielder but still got paid like a starting player.
- The Red Sox still need someone to back-up Mike Napoli at first base, writes Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com. While names like Carlos Pena and Casey Kotchman are on the market, general manager Ben Cherington would prefer the backup to be someone who can play multiple positions.
1:52pm: Dan Haren's agreement with the Nationals takes another starting pitching option off the board for the Angels, who made an effort to bring back the right-hander after not tendering him a qualifying offer. According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter), the Angels made a one-year offer to Haren with a very achievable option year.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets that there was at least one other team in on Haren at around $13MM, suggesting that the price tag for free agent starters will be high this offseason. That isn't great news for the Angels, since the team appears to have a finite amount of money to spend on pitching, according to DiGiovanna (Twitter link). If the Angels go big on a starter, they'll have to scrimp on relievers, and vice versa, says DiGiovanna.
Although the Angels have checked in on virtually every free agent starting pitcher, including Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, Ryan Dempster, and Joe Saunders, Zack Greinke remains their first choice, tweets DiGiovanna.
Yesterday, we heard that the Angels weren't acting like they were confident about landing Zack Greinke, and that they were shifting their focus to the next tier of free agent pitchers. Here are a few more details on their search, along with some details on their hunt for bullpen arms:
- Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link) singles out Anibal Sanchez and Kyle Lohse as two pitchers the Angels are eyeing, with Greinke's asking price too high for their liking.
- If the Angels don't have any success with outside free agents, the team could circle back to Dan Haren, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Angels have a history with Haren and have a more favorable view of his medical issues than other clubs (Twitter links).
- As MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reported earlier today, Sean Burnett and Mike Adams are among the relievers the Angels are targeting. The team also inquired on Joakim Soria, but there's likely not a fit there since Soria wants to close.
Teams must decide by tonight whether to tender contracts to their arbitration eligible players. MLBTR will have you covered throughout the evening, so be sure to follow along and use MLBTR's Non-Tender Tracker. In the meantime, here are today’s links...
- The Angels recently checked in on Dan Haren, who’s getting interest from lots of East Coast teams, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports (on Twitter).
- Nick Swisher told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that he’s trying to enjoy the process of being a free agent. "It's supposed to be an exciting time, not a stressful time,” Swisher said. “I'm over the stressful part now. I'm going to just have fun with this. I just want to scroll to the bottom line, sign my names in a few places, and get ready to play." The Red Sox, Orioles, Mariners and Rangers have talked to Swisher’s representatives at MVP Sports Group, Nightengale reports. Swisher has also been linked to a number of National League teams, including the Nationals, Phillies, Braves and Giants. The 32-year-old said he will play first base or right field in any city.
- David Ortiz said on WEEI said the Red Sox "need some thunder in that lineup,” Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. The veteran designated hitter explained that he'd like to see the Red Sox re-sign free agent Cody Ross.
- The Astros almost completed one trade this week, but GM Jeff Luhnow doesn't expect to complete any deals before the Winter Meetings, Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle reports.