Winter Meetings 2012: Washington Nationals Sign Starting Pitcher Dan Haren

By Michael Terrill
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Free agent starting pitcher Dan Haren has signed a one-year, $13 million contract with the Washington Nationals. Haren played for the Los Angeles Angels the last two seasons, while the Nationals will be his fifth Major League team.

Washington already made a splash when they re-signed reliever Zach Duke to a one-year contract on the first day of the 2012 MLB winter meetings. Haren will make a great addition to an already impressive starting rotation that includes Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann.

The Nationals ranked first in the National League and second in all of baseball with a 3.33 team earned run average. The starters combined for a NL-best 3.40 ERA and 72 wins, which was tied for the best in the majors.

Haren had somewhat of a down year this season as he posted a 12-13 record with a 4.33 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 142 strikeouts in 176 2/3 innings. For this reason, the Angels declined his $15.5 million option and instead bought his contract out for $3.5 million. Haren did pitch a complete game in 2012 against the Seattle Mariners in which he tossed a career-high 14 strikeouts in the win.

Obviously, Washington is hoping Haren will get back to his 2011 form, when he went 16-10 with a 3.17 ERA and 192 strikeouts in 238 1/3 innings. The fact that he has been rather inconsistent over the last few seasons is why the team was not inclined to offer more than a year to him. The right-hander most likely accepted the deal because the Nationals will be a contender in 2013 and they are one of the best chances he has of getting a ring.

The 32-year-old has been an All-Star three times in his career with the Oakland Athletics and Arizona Diamondbacks. Haren will probably be the fourth or fifth man in the Nationals’ rotation, which will give them one of the best group of five starters in all of baseball for the second year in a row.

Michael is a MLB and NBA Featured Writer for Rant Sports, but covers topics for various teams in baseball, basketball, and football. Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelTerrill and on Facebook.

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