With the surprising release of Freddy Garcia on Monday came the surprising news that the Atlanta Braves had signed veteran starting pitcher Aaron Harang. As the team made the move, they saved $1.5 million off of Garcia’s proposed contract if he made the major league roster, but also will have to continue the first part of the season on a four-man starting rotation.
Harang, like Garcia, has had his success as well as struggles in the major leagues. However, his bad has been much worse than that of Garcia. While he has led the NL in wins once (winning 16 games twice), games started once (35) and strikeouts once (216), Harang has had quite a bit of trouble in years since then, going above the .500 mark just once and winning 47 games to 67 losses since 2008.
The questionable part of this deal is that Harang has nothing special, or different, about him from Garcia. He doesn’t have the life on his fastball that twice struck out 200 batters, and he gave up just 10 less earned runs (77) than he had strikeouts (87) in 2013.
Also, he’s going to be asked to step up early in the season and perform at a very high level in a four-man rotation instead of providing veteran presence. I suppose the Braves were looking to catch the last bit of talent and arm that Harang has, but the move is beyond any comprehension.
With the move made, I bid Garcia well, and hope that the Braves haven’t made a move that could hurt the team as the season goes on. Remember: you can never have too much starting pitching.