Why Dan Haren Would Help the Angels Now and Later


After being acquired from the Diamondbacks in 2010, Dan Haren pitched two and a half seasons for the Halos. Unfortunately, he limped out of Anaheim after a lackluster 2012 campaign and has had similar 4+ ERA seasons in Washington and Los Angeles since. While Haren left a sour taste in many fans mouths after his final season in an Angels’ uniform, it would make a ton of sense to bring him back to the Big A.

Yes, Haren had a mediocre year in 2012 and has continued to regress but he shouldn’t be cast away just yet, especially not after the circumstances that have unfolded this offseason.

First, it should be noted that Haren has expressed intent that if he isn’t playing in Southern California, near his family, he will retire. After being traded to Miami, the 12-year veteran seems likely to follow through with his promise as playing across the country isn’t ideal for his situation. After making over $70 million during the course of his career, money is not shouldn’t be an issue for the Pepperdine alum and he can walk away from the game if he so chooses. This will put the ball in the Angels’ court during trade negotiations if Haren insists on staying put in SoCal.

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From a financial standpoint, Haren is due a mere $10 million dollars for 2015, currently being paid by the Dodgers. Although the Dodgers seem to have gifted the Marlins $10 million, rather than covering the actual contract, the Angels have the payroll space to take Haren’s contract after trading away Howie Kendrick and his $9 million salary. General manager Jerry Dipoto could free up more salary by moving a big contract player and a name that sticks out to me is starting pitcher C.J. Wilson.

Wilson is on the books for $15.5 million for the next two years after signing a 5-year/$77.5 million contract after the 2011 season. Over the past three seasons in Anaheim, Wilson has pitched to 3.87 ERA in 590.1 innings. Besides an excellent 2013 season, in which he still had a 3.51 FIP, Wilson has not lived up to organization’s expectation of the #2 or 3 starter they thought they were getting. Rumors have spread that Wilson dismissed coaches’ advice on how to fix his delivery as he was struggling late last year and the lefty even took to Twitter (tweet has since been deleted) to express his frustration with the Angels’ fan base after ripping him for his ALDS performance. Simply put, C.J.’s time may be running out with the Halos.

So here’s my proposition: Replace C.J. Wilson with Dan Haren in the starting rotation. Whether C.J. is sent to Miami, or a third team is involved, any way that the Angels can shed all, or at least the majority, of Wilson’s contract will help tremendously in the coming years.

This sounds ridiculous, as Wilson appears to be the superior pitcher, but hear me out.

By using FanGraph’s comparison tool, we can see that the two pitchers are closer than we think. Let’s take a look at some charts.



Aside from last year, we can see that Wilson has generally been the better pitcher over the past few seasons from a runs allowed standpoint. The track record is there and most people would tend to agree on the fact. But with Haren, there is certainty. His FIP over the past three seasons has been almost identical and he’s projected to have similar numbers again in 2015. Wilson is more of a wild card, unpredictable and unreliable. Nobody was really sure why C.J. lost control last year and couldn’t get outs and he ended up taking a trip to the DL with a quasi-ankle injury that was intended just to get him off the field and clear his head. If Wilson can rebound to his 2013 form, he will be worth the roster spot and salary but if he continues to regress, it would be better to watch him leave.


We all know him as C.J. ‘Bases Loaded’ Wilson, as this situation seems to occur all too often, and the chart agrees. Wilson continues to put runners on base and has been below average in this category ever since donning an Angels’ uniform. With above average strikeout and groundball rates, Wilson has been able to dance out of trouble in the past while getting outs when it matters most, but we can’t expect this pattern to continue. His strikeouts are slowly dropping and his line drive rates are increasing as well and this may be an indication of what’s to come. Dan Haren, however, has been above average in keeping opponents off base and has actually been improving of late. Haren’s issue arises from his high HR% and inability to keep the ball in the park, but a return to Anaheim should help suppress big flies.

K/BB Rates

 This peripheral is where Haren really stands out. Haren has always been tops in the league in this category and consistently has a strong ratio. Not only is this a closely followed stat by sabermatricians, but it is also one of the major statistical categories that the Angels’ front office looks at in player development. Wilson has had troubles with control lately and although he strikes out a considerable amount of batters, he also walks a notable amount of hitters.

Steamer, FanGraphs’ projection reference, predicts Haren to be worth 1.6 WAR and Wilson to record 1.4 WAR. While the pitchers may be similar in value, their contracts are significantly different and Haren’s contract is much more team friendly. Even if Wilson were to outpitch Haren in 2015, the biggest advantage of the trade would be the payroll flexibility in the 2015 offseason.

If the Angels could shed the $15.5 million due to Wilson in 2016, the floodgates would open to sign a big name pitching free agent. Next year’s starting pitching market includes Johnny Cueto, Doug Fister, David Price, Hisashi Iwakuma, Jeff Samardzija, Scott Kazmir, Jordan Zimmerman, Ian Kennedy, John Lackey, Rick Porcello, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, Yovani Gallardo, Tim Lincecum, and Justin Masterson. Not to mention names like Zack Greinke, Clay Buchholz, and R.A. Dickey could be available as well. By getting rid of Wilson’s contract, the Halos can take a stab at one of the major names on the market and as you can see, there are plenty of aces available.

One major complication in this matter is Wilson’s no trade clause. He is eligible to block trades to eight teams and problems could arise because of this. Finding a partner to absorb Wilson’s contract may be difficult but it is still a definite possibility.

It would be in the Angels’ best interest to find a trade partner for C.J. Wilson. After getting rid of his contract, Dan Haren can easily be picked up and fill in as the Angels’ #4 or 5 starter in the rotation. Short term, the trade might hurt the Angels but it’s very likely that the two will pitch comparably. The real benefits come in the long term, where the club will have the spending power to pursue a premium arm in next year’s free agent pool. Dipoto has preached about sustainability this offseason and focusing on the club’s future while staying competitive in the present.

Having David Price pitch for your club over the next seven years is a good way to sustain competitiveness.