Oct 19, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT
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.
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