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Roster review: Dan Haren

Oct 19, 2013, 6:00 AM EST

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Age on Opening Day 2014: 33

How acquired: Free agent, signed Dec. 2012

MLB service time: 9 years, 154 days

2013 salary+bonuses: $13 million

Contract status: Free agent

2013 Stats: 30 GS, 169.2 IP, 179 H, 92 R, 88 ER, 28 HR, 31 BB, 151 K, 1.238 WHIP, 10-14, 4.67 ERA, 4.09 FIP, 1.5 WAR

Quotable: “It’s been a really tough emotional mental year for me. Physically I felt fine, but the mental side of it just crushed me this year. I’m happy with the way I finished up, but I’ll still always have that guilt of the way it started and the expectations that were not met for the team.” — Dan Haren

2013 analysis: The Nationals signed Haren to a one-year, $13 million contract during the Winter Meetings, fully expecting the veteran right-hander to be a consistent and effective starter to fill out the back end of their rotation. But Haren’s season got off to a horrible start — he was tagged for six runs in four innings at Cincinnati — and continued to spiral downward through June, which he ended with a 4-9 record, 6.15 ERA and NL-leading 19 homers surrendered.

The Nationals wound up placing Haren on the DL with “right shoulder tightness,” an injury the pitcher later admitted was made up simply as a way to get him off the active roster. Turns out the two-week break did him good, not necessarily from a physical standpoint but from a mental standpoint.

Refreshed and refocused, Haren became a highly effective pitcher again. Over his final 15 starts, he went 6-5 with a 3.29 ERA, surrendering only nine homers along the way. The final stats still didn’t look good, but he departed for the winter feeling much better about himself.

2014 outlook: Once again a free agent, Haren will be looking for the best deal on the open market, and that all but certainly won’t come from Washington. Though the Nationals were pleased with his second-half turnaround, they don’t appear likely to make another commitment to the veteran.

The feeling is probably mutual. A Southern California native, Haren spoke several times this year about how tough it was for him to pitch on the East Coast and be removed from his family. Common sense suggests he’ll wind up signing with a West Coast club this winter.

  1. Faraz Shaikh - Oct 19, 2013 at 9:19 AM

    I don’t think there is anything left to say: good luck Haren.

  2. Section 222 - Oct 19, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    Ok, can we at least agree that Haren was a colossal failure?

    • Faraz Shaikh - Oct 19, 2013 at 11:27 AM

      No. Nats’ record was 12-19 in EJ’s 31 starts in 2012 and Nats record was 11-19 in DH’s 30 starts in 2013.

      • Section 222 - Oct 19, 2013 at 12:14 PM

        Exactly. He was worse than EJ, and he was supposed to be better. He was a failure, and nothing that happened in the last part of the season changes that. At one point the Nats lost 11 straight games that he started. If we had won just 5 of those games (making our overall record in his starts 16-14, we’d have been the second wild card team.

        I’d put Haren’s failure to perform up to expectations right there with ALR’s as the biggest reasons that the Nats failed to reach the playoffs this year.

  3. Faraz Shaikh - Oct 19, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    I wouldn’t call him a colossal failure based on the record I noted earlier. Yes, he was supposed to perform better than EJ but team did not under-perform terribly. Offense was the main reason we did not win few more games.

  4. Section 222 - Oct 19, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    Did not underperform terribly? Who were you watching?

    ERA 4.67 (EJ’s was 4.03)
    WHIP 1.238 (EJ’s was 1.218)
    HR/9 1.5 (EJ’s was 1.1)
    IP — 169.2 (EJ pitched 189.2)

    Plus, Haren’s renaissance came when the Nats’ season was basically over. His ERA on Aug. 1 was 5.49 and the Nats were 5-14 in his 19 starts up until then.

    I agree with you that offense was the Nats’ main problem this year, but Haren’s season was a disaster. There’s just no sugarcoating that.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Oct 19, 2013 at 2:50 PM

      I said ‘team did not under-perform terribly’ and overall Nats record backs up that claim.’

      I feel like we are arguing two different points. I am talking about team’s record in his starts (which does not suggest colossal failure) but you are only pointing out his stats (which I agree are worse than EJ’s).

  5. therealjohnc - Oct 19, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    Dan’s season was a failure, right enough. Whether it was viewed as a “colossal failure” or whether his midseason rally was enough to “raise” it to a mere “failure” level is largely a matter of taste.

    The silver lining is that this failure is a “one and done” failure; Haren is not cluttering up the payroll or the rotation going forward. Compare that with the Cubs signing Edwin Jackson. He was worse than Haren this year (his game against the Nationals, of course, was his best game of the year). Not only did he lead the league in losses with 18 (finishing 8-18) but that was on merit. His ERA (4.98), WHIP (1.46) and ERA+ (79) were all worse than Haren. Both received $13 million for their efforts this season, but the added bonus is that the Cubs are still on the hook with EJax for three more years and $39 million dollars.

    Haren seems like a decent, stand up guy, so I wish him well wherever he ends up. But for whatever reason it clearly didn’t work out here.

  6. sjm308 - Oct 19, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    To me, a colossal failure might be looked at as a total fall. I would list the Toronto Blue Jays and California Angels as colossal failures as they spent tons of money and got nowhere near the playoffs. Those are colossal failures. Sure Haren failed to deliver and was a disappointment but he was not that good to begin with. We had no illusions of him rising to become the ace of the staff. To have a colossal failure you have to be great and fail or have great expectations and fail. He was just below average and did not help us achieve our goals but it wasn’t colossal. Now, if we trade for David Price and he throws up numbers like Mr. Haren, that would be a colossal failure.

    Go Nats!!

    • Section 222 - Oct 19, 2013 at 3:12 PM

      I invite you to look at Mark’s posts and the comments when Haren was signed and perhaps reconsider whether Haren was “not that good to begin with.” Lots was expected of him, and he just didn’t come through. And given the problems that Det had, this was really damaging to the Nats’ season.

  7. sjm308 - Oct 19, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    One more comment, surprised Mark even included Haren in the roster review but I guess technically, he is still ours until free agency starts.

  8. Eugene in Oregon - Oct 19, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    I well remember that first Friday of the regular season, with Dan Haren pitching against the Reds. If I recall correctly, the Nats were 3-0 and all seemed set for another NL East championship — and more. My daughter and I started driving up to Portland just as the game was beginning. We had a rental car with satellite radio and were able to listen. Big mistake. We switched the game off about the time Mr. Haren was pulled. I’m not a big believer in premonitions, but something about that game — just listening to it on the radio — gave me a bad feeling about the season that was just starting. With so much promise and so many expectations. And the Nats subsequent play — until August, at least — bore out that bit of negative intuition.

    A talent scout might look at Mr. Haren’s final six weeks and conclude that he’s worth signing (at a reduced price, of course). And he may well turn into next year’s Francisco Liriano. But it will be — it has to be — with some other team. And if he should go west, as many predict, recall that the Nats will be playing the AL West off-and-on throughout next season.

    • David Proctor - Oct 19, 2013 at 5:10 PM

      San Francisco could make some sense with that huge ballpark.

  9. snerdblurter - Oct 21, 2013 at 10:22 AM


  10. snerdblurter - Oct 21, 2013 at 10:25 AM

    Those first couple months were absolutely brutal. How depressing was it to tune in every 5th night and know that – in spite of the talented roster – you only had a 5-10% chance of winning because of him? I think you could even sense it in the body language of the other players, who seemed to expect to be down 4-5 runs by the middle innings.

    But fare thee well, Dan. I’m sure you’ll be a 10+ win guy next year back out here on the left coast, but you were obviously not a good fit in DC, you were probably one of the top 3 contributing factors for the final result this year, and I think most folks are damn glad to see you go.





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