I think it’s fair to say that things have been a little topsy-turvy in Dan Haren‘s world in 2013.
Not only did the veteran continue his career-defying second-half surge (he still owns a better first half split over his career, though) from last season, he’s taken it to extremes with the Washington Nationals — so much so that he might actually be the team’s most important pitcher going right now.
… that is, if the Nats were really in the spot to make a run for a Wild Card spot anyway.
It’s too bad that Washington is still 9.5 games out after Haren led the team to another victory on Tuesday, because the narrative would have made for a perfect redemption story: with Jordan Zimmermann struggling lately and the Nats desperately needing help, a surging Haren could rise to the occasion after a disastrous first half of the season, and so on.
That story won’t play out in Washington, however, barring a miracle; but could Haren complete his redemption story elsewhere in the bigs?
Nationals manager Davey Johnson certainly thinks so, as he suggested to Amanda Comak of the Washington Times that the veteran righty would be wanted by a contending team still looking for that rental piece to put them over the top.
Since Haren has cleared waivers, it would definitely make sense for Washington to see if they can send the remainder of his contract off to a playoff contender, especially one that could give them a decent prospect return.
Who might those teams be?
With the recent injury (scare?) to Tony Cingrani‘s back, the Cincinnati Reds immediately come into mind as a trade partner. That said, it’s probably unlikely to happen as they wouldn’t want to make such a move until the need arises, as it would only create an unwanted and unnecessary logjam if their young hurler is fine.
What about the St. Louis Cardinals? Jake Westbrook has struggled for some time now (6.00/1.63 ERA over 30 innings since All-Star Break), and Haren would represent a significant boost without future financial commitment. Their pitching depth and the number of top prospects that they can call on to make spot starts make snuff out some of their interest (as per the norm with the redbirds), but there could be a fit there.
On top of these NL contenders, I don’t think you could rule out a return to the AL for Haren either. Are the Texas Rangers still looking for buy? They currently need a starter that’s not named Travis Blackley, and even if Alexi Ogando manages to come back this season, he shouldn’t be anywhere near the rotation.
Haren might see his numbers take a hit just like Matt Garza‘s have, but he does have a wealth of experience pitching in the AL West with both the Los Angeles Angels and …
… the Oakland Athletics. That would be quite the homecoming, wouldn’t it?
It was with the A’s that Haren really broke out as a star in pitcher in the bigs, and as it turns out, the A’s could have a shortage of arms. Bartolo Colon is out, and a returning ace in Brett Anderson is no sure thing, as fans in Oakland can certainly attest to. Sonny Gray has been great thus far, but as newcomers have found out, 25 great innings could go south in a hurry. Haren provides stability, experience in the league, and could be just what they need at the bottom of the order.
It’s hard to say whether the 32-year-old will be moved, but the suitors are certainly out there. Considering how crazy that would have sounded just a couple of months ago … that’s some minor redemption on its own, no?