After a failed trade that would have sent Dan Haren from the Los Angeles Angels to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Carlos Marmol, Haren’s $15.5M 2013 option was declined by the Angels and he became a free agent.
Haren will be 32 on Opening Day and a pitcher with his track record would be in line for a big payday. Only problem is that Haren hit the disabled list for the first time in his career and saw his velocity sit in the upper-80s, marking the first time his fastball failed to average at least 90 mph. Haren could be a potential bargain and San Diego’s PETCO Park is the perfect fit.
Haren is also coming off of his worst season since becoming a full-time major leaguer after he was traded from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Oakland Athletics. He posted his worst ERA, FIP, xFIP, HR/9, ERA+, and groundball rate of his career while failing to reach 200 innings pitched for the first time since his first trade.
Haren, who had been a model of consistency and durability, is now being treated as damaged goods and instead of looking at a potential four or five year deal he will be lucky to get anything beyond two years, leaving him as a potential bargain, especially for a team with a big ballpark.
Haren’s velocity, the worst of his career, fell for the third consecutive season and below 90 mph for the first time of his career. The loss in velocity should bring no surprise that his wFB also declined for the third straight season to a near career worst -12.9 runs. Here is a graph (via Brooks Baseball) of his velocity since 2007 and the drop in velocity is clear:
Haren, despite the loss in velocity, maintained a low walk rate and finished third in the American League in BB/9. Haren’s loss in velocity may have been due to his back problems that sidelined him and if his back is back to normal there is a chance we see his fastball back above 90 mph. If that happens I bet we see the Haren of old who had seven straight seasons of at least 4.0 fWAR including three seasons over 6.0 fWAR.
When Haren hit the DL after his July 3rd start he was sporting a 4.86 ERA but once he returned from the DL he had a 3.58 ERA and only walked 1.72 batters per nine innings although his velocity remained about the same and he did not hit 90 mph on any single pitch in his final two games.
Haren allowed 1.43 homeruns per nine innings last season and 1.05 throughout his career. He is a flyball pitcher with plus control and command but has lost a few miles per hour on his fastball. Angel stadium is not exactly a hitter’s haven but PETCO is a pitcher’s haven. Take a look at the batted balls allowed by Haren in Angel stadium and where they would have landed if they were in PETCO:
I count five fewer homeruns that Haren would have allowed and that does not include me taking batted balls out of the equation by designated hitters, something Haren would not have to worry about in the National League.
Haren’s HR/9 would have dropped from 1.43 to 1.17 if his home parks were in PETCO rather than Angel Stadium, assuming the batted balls would have remained the same. Additionally, Haren allowed seven homeruns to designated hitters, a position he would only to face in Interleague games played in American League ballparks.
We cannot assume that the batted-ball info will transfer over or that Haren would not allow a homerun to a pitcher but it looks fairly obvious to me that Haren and PETCO Park make a perfect fit and the San Diego Padres just happen to be looking for pitching help. It also helps that Dan Haren has a west coast bias. It makes too much sense as long as Haren does not ask for too much cents.
**On a side not, Haren is a good fit with just about any West Coast team if there is a spot open and the money is right. The Atheltics, Mariners, Giants, and the Dodgers all have friendly confines.**
-Jonathan C. Mitchell can be found writing about the Tampa Bay Rays at DRaysBay and the Florida Marlins at ESPN’s SweetSpot site Marlins Daily. You can follow him on twitter at @FigureFilbert. Be sure to follow MLBdirt at @MLBdirt