The Dodgers made one of the safest deals of the off-season on Sunday with the acquisition of starting pitcher, Dan Haren. They announced on Monday that the free agent was signed to an incentive-laden one-year, $10 million deal.
On top of the $10 million for 2014, Haren can activate a 2015 player option if he reaches 180 innings pitched next season, as well as bonuses reaching up to $3 million for throwing 150 innings, or in 24 games.
The option and bonuses are in place as a precaution, because Haren has had shaky health over the past two seasons. In 2012 and 2013 he started 30 games each with inning totals around 170 each year. If he can stay healthy with the Dodgers in 2014 he will have the option to return in 2015, regardless of his performance.
In a year when a free-agent starter with league experience can snag a multi-year deal, the Dodgers' one-year contract with Haren comes at a very low risk. If he does not work out they are not stuck with him for long.
Haren will slot into the Dodgers rotation at the four or five hole, basically as a replacement to Ricky Nolasco. He spent last year with the Washington Nationals where he started the season 4-10, but finished the second half with a 3.52 ERA, 1.017 WHIP, and strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5.
The most glaring mark on his record is the 28 home runs he has given up in each of the last two years. His 1.5 HR/9 last season was the worst in the National League for pitchers who threw over 150 innings.
The move gives the team flexibitlity with the rotation as they have Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett returning from season-ending injuries, and young arms like Stephen Fife to round out the rotation at the fifth spot.
Of course, there is also the possibility of that the Dodgers come out the victors of the Mashiro Tanaka sweepstakes. The bidding on the Japanese pitcher should be coming up soon, and if they sign him the Dodgers plenty of starting pitching possibilites.
Just imagine: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanaka, Haren, Billingsley, and Beckett all being used as pieces to the best rotation in baseball.
This is the Dodgers first free-agent acquisition of the off-season, although they have made several minor-league moves, and signed Cuban second-baseman Alexander Guerrero. There is still plenty of moves to come with big holes at third and second base left to fill.