The Washington Nationals were looking to upgrade their starting rotation, and for the second straight year, they've done it with a one year deal. This year, their newest starting pitcher is former Angel Dan Haren, who the team signed to a one year, $13 million contract.
This is an extremely high risk, high reward deal. Haren actually gets a slight raise on the $12.75 million he made in 2012, but will make less than the $15.5 million he could have made if the Angels exercised his club option. The Angels reportedly had a deal to send Haren to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for closer Carlos Marmol, but the deal fell apart due to Chicago having concerns about Haren's hip.
The Nationals apparently don't share those concerns about Haren's hip, and are willing to gamble on him returning to his ace form. The 32-year old had a 4.33 ERA in 2012, his worst since a 46 inning stint with the Cardinals in 2004. Haren also threw under 200 innings for the first time in a full season over his career, indicating that he could be running out of steam.
But the potential is still there with Haren. Prior to 2012, he turned in seven straight four win seasons, including three six win years in his last four seasons. Unlike last winter's singing of Edwin Jackson, Haren's contract really isn't below market value in terms of money, as $13 million is a hefty chunk of change. However, Haren provides a much higher potential return than Jackson did in 2012 and will slot into Washington's rotation behind Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Jordan Zimmermann. A healthy Haren makes Washington's rotation one of the best in baseball, as if they needed another boost.
The signing of Haren also takes Washington out of the running for Zack Greinke or a trade for one of the Rays starting pitchers, and fully shifts their focus on what to do with first base when it comes to a potential trade of Michael Morse and the potential re-signing of Adam LaRoche.