Our second stop in our short series reviewing the Washington Nationals’ 2013 offseason acquisitions is Dan Haren. Previously, we checked in on Denard Span, who panned out really well. When it comes to Haren, things didn’t quite workout as well as the Nationals had hoped.
To start off, Haren was nowhere near worth the contract that he was given. When the Nationals signed him to a one-year, $13 million deal in the offseason, they hoped to get the pitcher that won 12 games for the Los Angeles Angels in 2012 and 16 games for them in 2011. Instead, they got an inconsistent and frustrating 10-win season for their money.
For your fifth starter, finding a guy that can win you around 15 games is pretty solid. You don’t expect him to be your ace, but you don’t expect him to be seemingly an automatic loss like Haren was at times. Over an 11-start stretch spanning May, June and July, Haren was 0-8 and the Nationals lost all 11 games.
There were times where he seemed like the pitcher the Nationals hoped they would get. In seven appearances throughout August (six starts, one relief appearance), Haren went 3-1 as a starter and picked up a save in an extra inning contest. He racked up 31 strikeouts in 36.2 innings of work and maintained an ERA of 3.68. That’s the kind of production that the Nationals had been looking for all season long.
Unfortunately, it didn’t come until it was too late. By the time Haren really started to hit his stride, the Nationals were playing catchup in the National League playoff picture. While the team was able to put together a good run, it was all for not as they were eventually eliminated from contention following a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The decision to sign Haren went unquestioned at the time and for good reason. Based on his previous seasons, he seemed like a good candidate to take over the fifth pitching position. The thing about Haren, though, was that it was either one extreme or the other. There was no middle ground. If he was on his game, his pitching was lights out. If he wasn’t on his game, then things got really ugly, really fast.
Haren’s status is still uncertain for 2014. He was signed to a one-year contract and it remains to be seen if the Nationals will try to bring him back. If he does want to stay in Washington, he’ll need to decrease is asking price by quite a lot. He certainly isn’t worth the $13 million that the Nationals paid him this past season.