What's that on the horizon? It's a bird, it's a plane, no... it's a Haren. Oh, I guess that is a bird. - Brad White
The Padres have made starting pitching their off-season priority and the Angels might well be cutting ties with two starters. Could Dan Haren be a fit for San Diego? Is there money in the coffers to lure him?
Haren turned 32 last month and battled back problems most of last season. You can look at that two ways. One could say 'hey, at least it was not his arm' or one could say 'yeah, but it is his back and sometimes those things don't go away'. Especially if you are thirty-two and have thrown 1,700 innings in the past eight years.
After a pretty miserable first half that culminated in Haren giving up 20 runs over 23 innings, the right-hander spent some time on the disabled list in July. When he came back on July 23rd, Haren would go on to pitch 73 innings and allow 68 hits, 29 runs, 14 walks and 14 home runs. He struck out 56 over that stretch and posted a 3.57 earned run average.
Haren's 2012 overall numbers frankly look like a pitcher who was throwing with a sore back. His velocity was down, his walk rate was up and, perhaps more telling about a slight loss of control, his home run rate was extremely elevated. Batters were swinging less and making contact more. Haren simply was not throwing the type of stuff that made him one of the league's best pitchers for an extended period of years.
The Angels have already stated that they would like to go another direction and will likely pay the $3.5 million buyout in Haren's contract to avoid owing him $15.5 million in 2013. That makes him a free agent and potential target for any team, like the Padres, looking to bolster their starting staff.
Fosler ends up asking "Could the Royals get Haren on a one year/$10 million deal?" and tries to justify that spending. For me, I look at Haren as a player that has been good for long enough that he's going to want a multiyear deal and someone will give it to him. The Padres may have some additional cash to spend. I could see it being viable to offer 3-4 years with an annual value of either slightly below or slightly above $10 million per season.
It's certainly a risk given that Haren's 2012 season wasn't so great and a team like the Angels, who have money to burn, are giving up on him. But, it might be worth the gamble. Even if Haren can't become a Cy Young candidate again, he still seems likely to log innings and not too terrible ones. So your downside is minimized. It's a lot of money, but if the Padres have money and are serious about contending then maybe this is the bold move that could give them a much better shot.
You also have to figure in the Trader Josh connection. Josh Byrnes already acquired Dan Haren once to help a team he saw as a contender (and gave up future major leaguers Brett Anderson, Chris Carter, Aaron Cunningham, Greg Smith, Dana Eveland and Carlos Gonzalez in the process). Maybe he'd want to do it again.