Relative to past performance, Dan Haren‘s season may have been the single biggest disappointment for the 2012 Angels. He posted the highest ERA of his career this year at 4.33, Didn’t break 200 innings for the first time since becoming a full time starter and posted the highest WHIP of his career at 1.291. But, is there hope for Dirty Dan going forward that this season was just a fluke thanks to a dodgy back?
A quick glance at the stats tell you that this was Dan Haren’s worst year. And they are right, it was. But, the splits tell me that by the time August had rolled into September, Haren had found his way back to his former self.
By June, Dan seemingly couldn't maintain his mechanics due to the back pain, and his performance suffered for it. So much so that it led to his first trip to the DL. He still wasn't 100% in July, which forced Scioscia to skip one of Haren's starts that month. Not exactly a banner year so far for one of the main ingredients to the teams success. After an August where nothing went right for the entire team, Dan finds himself in September with a snazzy 6.20 K/BB ratio while holding opponents to a .697 OPS.
Unfortunately, the damage may have already been done. By the next to last week of the season, rumors were surfacing that the Angels had already decided that they were going to decline Dan's $15.5 million option for 2013, something that coming into this year seemed like it would be a slam dunk decision at the end of the season.
Now with the season over, and even more talk surrounding Haren's club option, Dan has decided to relinquish some leverage while talking to the media.
"I'm not looking to break the bank, I'm not looking to sign a Zack Greinke deal," Haren said. "I'm looking for whatever is fair. I'll have to see what happens. Players work hard to get to free agency. I've played nine years, and if I become a free agent, it would be stupid not to take advantage of that."
Now, "fair" is a tricky situation. What exactly does Dan think is fair? Is fair paying him based on 2012, or paying him based on what has been an exceptional career so far? Dan Haren might possibly think it is the latter. I most certainly believe it is the former.
Haren posted an fWAR (Fangraphs WAR) of 1.8 in 2012. According to Fangraphs, that made him worth $7.9 million or roughly $4.4 million per win above replacement. If Haren can be re signed for $8 million, that's a steal, but even though Haren has said that he would be open to re signing at a lower annual value, I doubt he would jump at that contract. He most likely thinks that he is worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $12 million a year. So the Angels meet him in the middle with a $10 million a year contract. At that amount, Dan gets showed some respect by the Angels front office and stays in the eight figure club. The Angels also play it smart by paying Dan to produce a 2.3 fWAR. Which is not a bad bet when you consider that, as a full time starter, Dan has produced 36 fWAR, good for an average of 5.1 fWAR per season. Another way to look at it is, Joe Blanton produced a 2.4 fWAR in 2012. Do you really think Blanton is a better pitcher than Haren? Yeah, me neither.
Dan Haren had been one of the most durable starters coming into last season. It is a very good possibility that Dan returns to being a pitcher who can be counted on for 200 mostly quality innings per season. But that back. It would be foolish of the Angels to not keep his back in mind. Giving Dan five years guaranteed would be unwise, but giving him two years with a club option for a third would probably not strike Dan as "fair." What would I give Dan? Three guaranteed years, with a club option for a fourth, and I certainly wouldn't back load the deal. Locking ourselves in for three years of Dan Haren at the expectancy of him producing a 2.3 fWAR. It also gives them the insurance of not locking him in past his age 34 season.
Dan has expressed quite a few times his desire to stay with the Angels. He's tired of bouncing around, and being from so Cal, it allows him to stay home. A 3/30 contract with the club option pushing it to 4/40 doesn't seem like that much of a discount, but when you consider his $15.5 million option for 2013 coupled with a terribly thin farm system, it really is the best course of action. That, and, he can grown a pretty sweet Wolverine beard.