Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dodgers sign Haren for end of rotation

As Dodger fans wait on any possible movement with big names like David Price and Masahiro Tanaka, management added a piece to the back end of the rotation.

Dan Haren has agreed to a one-year, $10 million deal on Monday, with an option for another year in 2014, and $3 million in incentives.  He'll slot in right behind Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-Jin Ryu as Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley work their way back from injuries.

Now 33 and with over 2,000 innings of Major League pitching already under his belt, it's safe to say we can't expect to see the same guy who was an All-Star from 2007-2009 with the A's and Diamondbacks.  In 31 starts with the Nationals last season, he went 10-14 with a 4.67 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, as his team went from World Series contenders to flameouts for a variety of reasons.

Taking a closer look, however, you'll see some encouraging second half splits.  After he returned from a right shoulder injury in June, he ended up going 6-4 with a 3.52 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 13 starts after the break.  Plus, his BAA went way down from .299 to .226.

If you're a believer in a second half performance carrying over into the next season, then Haren gives you plenty of reasons for optimism.  With the Dodgers, he can fit nicely into the 4-5 spot and not feel immediate pressure to beat other teams' aces.  It's a low-key signing, but a good one if his shoulder problems don't come back.

Now Haren has to prove he should keep his rotation spot when Beckett and Billingsley are declared good to go.  As Ned Colletti pointed out, the Dodgers know more than any other team that you can never have enough starting pitching.  Remember how Ted Lilly, Aaron Harang, and Chris Capuano were all left out of the rotation coming out of Spring Training last year?  Well, one injury after another made them scramble to call up guys like Stephen Fife and Matt "Ball 4" Magill to make emergency starts.  It wasn't pretty.

I applaud Colletti for going with a deal like this over giving Ricky Nolasco way too much money.  Haren might not get as hot as Nolasco was for a stretch last season, but he can still be very solid behind the studs at the top of the rotation.

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