For the Dodgers, Dan Haren is a $10-million insurance policy

Want to know exactly how great it is to be the Dodgers these days? You can afford a $10-million insurance policy.

Meet Dan Haren, insurance. And yet more evidence of how polar opposite the Guggenheim Dodgers are from the ones taken into bankruptcy by Frank McCourt.

The Dodgers have agreed to terms with Haren on a one-year, $10-million deal. If he passes his physical – probably not as automatic as with most signings – he could become their fifth starter.

If he pitches like he did in his last 13 games (6-3, 3.14 ERA, .224 opponents batting average) for the Nationals, at this winter’s rates, he’s a bargain. If he pitches like he did in his first 18 games (4-14, 5.79, .297), he’ll be a bust.

The Dodgers currently have three high-quality starters in Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. And most seem to believe when the new posting system is settled with Japanese officials, the Dodgers will emerge with Masahiro Tanaka (24-0, 1.27 ERA in the Japanese Pacific League).

That would make a rotation of four high-quality starters.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers have two veteran starting pitchers on the mend in Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett, and their return is uncertain.

Billingsley is coming off Tommy John surgery and is planning on being ready to start the season, though the Dodgers are more cautiously saying May. The Dodgers seem slightly more optimistic about Beckett, who had surgery to remove a rib for a nerve problem in July, and think he could be ready for spring training. Chris Carpenter, however, had the same procedure and was forced to retire.

So the Dodgers are taking a flier on Haren. He doesn’t cost them a bunch of years to back up prospects and doesn’t cost them a draft pick. Just money, which is the one thing the Dodgers have used to their full advantage since Guggenheim arrived.

Last year the Dodgers went to spring training with eight starting pitchers and ended up needing like 323. More is better.

Haren is from La Puente and still lives in Southern California. Part of his early struggles with the Nationals was attributed to his missing his wife and children, who remained here.

He’s 33, so if his shoulder and back and hip check out, the Dodgers can gamble he will return to the form he finished last season with. If Billingsley and Beckett do return, and effectively, Haren can become a $10-million long man or get traded.

All the Dodgers are gambling is a little money.


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