This offseason, the Washington Nationals have a somewhat difficult decision regarding what they should do with starting pitcher and current free agent Dan Haren. After having an up and down season, should they re-sign him or should they let him walk away?
To start, let’s establish that even if the Nationals want to re-sign him, Haren will have to cooperate and understand that he’s nowhere near the $13 million that Washington paid him 2013. While he did win 10 games, which isn’t awful for your fifth starter, it was a far cry from his 16-win season in 2011.
After starting off the season 4-3, Haren then went on a streak of 11 games where he went 0-8 and the Nationals lost all 11 games. Over that 11-game span, Haren held an ERA of 6.18 and gave up 69 hits through 59.2 innings. Opposing batters finished with a .285 batting average and .326 on-base percentage.
While he struggled through the middle part of the season, he ended it looking like the pitcher the Nationals paid $13 million for. In his final 12 appearances, he finished 5-3 with a 3.34 ERA and 58 strikeouts. Opposing batters managed just a .270 on-base percentage against him. Haren also won his final game of the season after going seven full innings without giving up a run to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The decision on whether the Nationals should re-sign Haren or not is a tough one. While he did struggle mightily throughout the middle part of the season, the way he ended this season has to leave the Nationals scratching their heads. After the month of July, it seemed like a no-brainer to let Haren go. Now, it may be worth their time to talk money.
If the price is right, like a one-year contract for $1-3 million, re-signing Haren just might be worth their time. His last 11 starts of the season were strong enough for the Nationals to at least consider calling him back. After all, his numbers in the last two months rivaled those of Stephen Strasburg’s.
The only thing that could keep the Nationals from re-signing Haren is who they have waiting in the ranks. If they feel as though either Taylor Jordan or Tanner Roark are ready for a chance to be the full-time starter, then letting Haren walk away may be the best way to go. They also have Ross Detwiler to be their fourth or fifth starter, so they’re not exactly desperate for a pitcher.
If it were up to me, I’d let Haren walk away. While he had strong stuff at the end of the season, he just wasn’t consistent enough throughout the season to convince me of re-signing him. Also, the emergence of Jordan and Roark would also make me feel pretty good about my situation at pitcher.