Nats Sign Dan Haren and Other News

The Washington Nationals have agreed to terms with Dan Haren for one year and $13M. Haren described his decision thusly:

“The deciding factor in coming to Washington was winning,” Haren said in an e-mail. “I don’t think there’s a team better positioned to win now. It really was an easy decision for me, actually. It didn’t take me long to decide that playing for the Nationals made sense.”

Well, yeah, and maybe the fact the Nationals offered about $5M more than anyone else played a tiny role as well. Just sayin’.

Good decision by the Nationals? Debatable. At $13M, Washington is paying for the Dan Haren of 2011, and/or, the Dan Haren prior to age 30. Removing financials from the equation, the Nats need Haren to replace Edwin Jackson in the starting rotation — a spot somewhere in the middle or toward the end. From the latter perspective, it’s a good signing, because even the “bad” Haren — the one who was basically a 5-inning pitcher with a 4.33 ERA — is good enough for a #4 or #5 starter supported by the Nats offense. Further, there is a slight chance that Haren rediscovers some of the awesomeness that made him one of the most coveted pitchers in baseball from 2005-2010. But when you look at the money handed to him — well, only a big-market club with deep pockets like the Nationals or Yankees can afford to take such a gamble.

Curious, if you were the Mets GM, would you have spent that much for one year of Haren?

Moving along, Shane Victorino signed a 3-year, $39M deal with the Red Sox — the identical commitment given to Mike Napoli a day earlier. Had you asked me two weeks ago if Victorino would get such a rich and lengthy deal, I would’ve said “no freakin’ way,” but after seeing what Angel Pagan received, well, that’s the going price for a centerfielder. Funny that many people (including myself) actually believed the Mets had a shot at signing a player of Victorino’s (or Pagan’s) ilk to take over CF and the leadoff spot. Just goes to show how distant the Mets are from competing at the Major League level, against Major League teams with Major League payrolls. Maybe the team in Flushing, rather than Buffalo, should be moving to the PCL.

I suppose the Victorino signing could motivate the Red Sox to trade an outfielder, but who knows? According to various “sources,” signing Napoli will not cause them to trade a catcher. Poker playing, more likely.

One more big signing took place: the Giants locked up Marco Scutaro for 3 years and $20M. Again, I’m not sure I would have believed it two weeks ago. The 37-year-old second baseman had a career half-year at just the right time, for just the right team. Good for him; it’s too much money but I’ve always loved watching him play — going back to those brief cups of coffee he had with the Mets in the early part of the millennium.

In a less-heralded move, the Diamondbacks signed Eric Hinske to a one-year deal. Ho-hum.

There were also a few trades in Opryland. The Miami Marlins flipped Yunel Escobar to the Tampa Bay Rays in return for a minor league infielder named Derek Dietrich. Even before Escobar told the Marlins he wasn’t excited about moving from shortstop to third base (huh, like deja vu all over again), it seemed likely he’d be out of Miami before spring training. I know nothing about Dietrich, but his stats suggest he’s a slightly younger version of Josh Satin.

Finally, the Rockies traded young phenom Alex White and minor leaguer Alex Gillingham to Houston for reliever Wilton Lopez. This one makes me scratch my head, as White was an integral piece in the blockbuster that sent Ubaldo Jimenez to Cleveland not so long ago. I suppose a 5.51 ERA and 1.68 WHIP in 23 MLB games were enough to dampen Colorado’s hopes for the 24-year-old righthander. Lopez is a top-notch setup man who can be used in a closer role, but he’ll turn 30 by the All-Star break, and lights-out relievers generally have a short shelf life. I suppose this means the Rockies are ramping up to win sooner rather than later.

Thoughts on any of these moves? Post them in the comments.

12-13 Offseason

About the Author

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.

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