News broke last week that Angels pitcher Dan Haren will most likely hit the open market this winter; it’s rumored that the Angels are planning on declining Haren’s option after the season.
Haren will be one of the top pitchers on the open market, behind teammate Zack Greinke. The question is:
What is Haren worth on the open market?
First, let’s look at what Haren has done over his career.
Haren, drafted by the Cardinals in the second round of the 2002 draft, has seen a lot of ups and very few downs during his career. After breaking in with the Cardinals in 2003, Haren bounced between Triple A and the Majors for 2 years, while also bouncing between the rotation and the bullpen. I’d be willing to argue that he was the Cardinals best pitcher in the 2004 World Series, even though he didn’t start a single game.
After the 2004 season, Haren was traded with Daric Barton and Kiko Calero to the A’s for Mark Mulder. Haren got his chance to start and took advantage of it; he was 14-12 with a 3.73 ERA over 217.0 innings. He topped out with Oakland in 2007, going 17-9 with a 3.07 ERA. The deal still stings Cardinal fans, as Haren could have pitched better than Mulder did if he’d have received the chance. I said at the time that I wouldn’t trade Haren.
Billy Beane saw his opportunity and traded the pitcher prior to the 2008 season to the Diamondbacks (with Connor Robertson) for Carlos Gonzalez, Brett Anderson, Chris Carter, Aaron Cunningham, Greg Smith, and Dana Eveland. The trade showed immediate dividends for the D’backs; Haren was 16-8 with a 3.33 ERA. He pitched very well in his stint in Arizona, but the D’backs began to sit at the bottom of the NL West.
Haren was traded at the 2010 trade deadline to the Angels for Joe Saunders, Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin, and Rafael Rodriguez. Haren’s career with the Halo’s went well, until this year; he’s 12-12 with a 4.32 ERA in 29 starts. He started extremely slow and dealt with back issues all season.
A sports bookie may not have been able to predict Haren’s off-year, but my projections hinted at it:
As you can see, the difference is minimal between the projected numbers and the actual (outside of innings and walks). Haren had averaged 34 starts over the past 3 years, but looking at his comparable pitchers, a few encountered injuries; that impacted my systems amount of starts for the pitcher. Fan Graphs has his dollar value at $7.4MM (for the record, he’s making $12.75MM).
For 2013, I have more of the same for Haren:
I don’t know if the back will be a chronic issue, but his comps also missed time in their age 32 season. Since his numbers are much different from what was projected (and the actual) of 2012, I’d say he’s worth about $8MM next season. If a team were willing to gamble, they should offer between 2 years, $16MM and 3 yrs, $21MM. A safer offer might be 2 years, $14MM.
I’m willing to bet that he’ll end up with a larger offer than what I’ve outlined; that’s just how the MLB and baseball owners work.