The Washington Nationals have announced that Dan Haren has agreed to a one-year, $13 million contract pending a physical. Haren would join a rotation of Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Ross Detwiler and essentially would be replacing Edwin Jackson, who is a free agent.
Haren, 32, has been a workhorse since becoming a full-time starter in 2005. He has thrown at least 175 innings every year since 2005 and last season was the first time he did not throw at least 216 innings. The Nationals rotation is, on paper, better than the pitching staff that led the National League in ERA and was second only to the Tampa Bay Rays in Major League Baseball.
There is no question that Haren is an upgrade over Edwin Jackson. Haren has been one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball for the last eight years and has three All-Star appearances and two top 10 finishes in the Cy Young Award voting.
There is some concern about Haren’s health after he was shelved for three weeks last season with what the team called a bad back. However, there are reports that it was his hip that was causing him problems, so the pending physical is the key to this preliminary news. Haren, you might remember, was traded from the Los Angeles Angels to the Chicago Cubs for Carlos Marmol earlier this off-season before the Angels declined Haren’s option, but the deal fell through, presumably because Haren’s hip raised a red flag for the Cubs.
If healthy, Haren should have no trouble fitting into the Nationals rotation. He won’t be asked to be a top-of-the-line starter and could excel as a number five starter where he would consistently be going up against opponents’ fourth or fifth starters.
Haren has posted at least 10 wins in each season since 2005 and his ERA last season of 4.33 was the first time he finished with an ERA above 4.00 since 2006. He has also led the league three times in K/BB ratio and did so as recently as 2011.
If Haren is healthy he could be a steal for the Nationals.