Baseball’s “hot stove” looked ready to heat up on Friday night when the Los Angeles Angels had reportedly agreed to trade starting pitcher Dan Haren to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for closer Carlos Marmol. But the trade ultimately did not happen, prompting the Angels to simply decline the $15.5 million option in Haren’s contract for 2013 and pay a $3.5 million buyout instead.
Haren will now become a free agent, and is likely to get plenty of interest on the open market as one of the most accomplished starting pitchers available. But his ability to get a big long-term deal may be hampered by his age (32) and that he is coming off a poor season in 2012 (12-13, 4.33 ERA). A lingering back issue prevented him from topping 200 innings pitched for the first time in his eight full big league seasons, but he still made at least 30 starts for the eighth straight season. For his career, in parts of 10 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland Athletics and Arizona Diamondbacks as well as the Angels, Haren has a 119-97 record and a 3.66 ERA over 296 appearances (286 starts) with 16 complete games.
A few other teams were rumored to have interest in making a trade for Haren, so it can be presumed those same teams will be making some sort of offer to him as free agency gets going.
The Minnesota Twins will have some competition for Haren’s services if they have any interest, but they also look to be in a position to make a lucrative offer if they want to. As long as his back issues from 2012 are behind him, and he did finish the season strongly with a 2.81 ERA over his final eight starts, Haren would be the durable, top of the rotation starter the Twins need and should be seeking this offseason.
Of course the Twins do not have a history of going after the biggest names on the free agent market, so pursuing someone with Haren’s credentials and with his likely asking price would be a diversion from that. All things considered he would be a worthy investment if the price is right in terms of length and money per year in a contract, and signing Haren would most certainly not prevent general manager Terry Ryan from making more moves this winter.