Nationals get Dan Haren for one year at $13 million
NASHVILLE — The Angels made an offer to a veteran starting pitcher that was essentially blown out of the water by the Washington Nationals on the second day of baseball’s winter meetings.
Lucky for the Angels, that pitcher was Dan Haren and not Zack Greinke.
Washington agreed to terms Tuesday on a one-year, $13-million deal for Haren, a move that probably takes the well-heeled Nationals out of the running for Greinke, the jewel of this winter’s free-agent class and a top target of the Angels.
That would appear to leave the deep-pocketed Dodgers and Texas Rangers as the Angels’ primary competition for Greinke, who had a 6-2 record and 3.53 earned-run average in 13 starts for the Angels last season after a late-July trade from Milwaukee.
By no means are the Angels in a Greinke-or-bust mode. They’ve spoken with agents for just about every quality free-agent starter, including Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, Ryan Dempster, Shaun Marcum, Brandon McCarthy and Joe Saunders.
They made a failed last-ditch effort to retain Haren, an action that could be interpreted as an indication the Angels are not very confident of landing Greinke.
But this is also a big-market club with an aggressive owner who shelled out $317.5 million to Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson on one day last December, so it wouldn’t seem wise to count them out on Greinke, whose price tag could soar to the six-year, $150-million range.
“Our goal is to create the best depth we can on a 12-man pitching staff,” General Manager Jerry Dipoto said. “Therefore, we’re not going to get hung up on one target as a stand-alone.”
Though the Angels declined Haren’s $15.5-million option for 2013, they offered him a deal with a lower base salary, believed to be $7.5-million, plus incentives that could push the deal to $9 million and an achievable second-year option, according to a person familiar with negotiations but not authorized to speak about them.
Haren, who pitched through back problems to post a 12-13 record with a 4.33 ERA last season, chose to sign with the defending National League East-champion Nationals and join a rotation that includes Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman and Ross Detwiler.
“This will probably be the best rotation I’ve ever been a part of,” Haren, who pitched with Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana and Wilson last season, said in an email to the Washington Post. “I don’t think there’s a team better positioned to win now. It really was an easy decision for me.”
The Angels and others were concerned about Haren’s high mileage — he went more than seven seasons without missing a start before going on the disabled list for the first time in his career last July — and a drop in the velocity of his fastball, which sat in the 89-mph range last season.
There were also health concerns, the lower-back stiffness that slowed Haren last season and a hip issue that reportedly torpedoed a trade of Haren to the Chicago Cubs in November.
“As for my health, I feel great,” Haren said. “I felt great toward the end of last year, and I was battling my mechanics a lot but was still getting good results. I guess teams were concerned about a hip issue that I’ve dealt with since my time in Oakland. It never has and never will cause me to miss time.”
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