Dan Haren was on the verge of being traded to the Chicago Cubs on Friday night for a package that would have sent at least Carlos Marmol to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
However, since that transaction fell through, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com is reporting that the Angels declined their team option on Haren, and he will indeed become a free agent this winter.
According to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto has not ruled out talking to Haren on a new contract.
With all this in mind, is it possible that Haren will return to the Angels next season?
On one hand, last season was definitely below average for the now 32-year-old right-hander. He went 12-13 with a 4.33 ERA. He posted his highest WHIP, lowest win total, tied for the highest loss total and lowest strikeout total since he was 23 years old and pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Obviously, with that season in their recent memory, the Angels did not want to exercise his option and pay him $15.5 million this year.
However, one bad season does not necessarily mean that the Angels should avoid him at all costs. Sure, he is not worth $15.5 million based on last season alone, but if they are able to bring him back at a lower price, they should definitely be open to that possibility.
Until this season, he had seven strong campaigns to his credit. During that time, his highest ERA was 4.12, but he was typically posting numbers below 3.50. In 2009, he led the National League in WHIP, but he was in the top 10 in four other seasons (three of which were in the American League).
For all of you sabermetricians out there, we all know that wins above replacement is a cumulative statistic, and he is currently ranked 23rd among all active pitchers in Major League Baseball according to Baseball Reference.
His track record seems to indicate that he is a much better pitcher than he was in 2012.
That is why the Angels—or any team for that matter—should not be totally opposed to bringing Haren into their rotation. Yes, he had one bad season, and it is somewhat risky to bet on a comeback.
However, perhaps the Angels need to view it in this way: Because of that bad season, his contract demands will surely be lower. There is a very good chance that he will return to his pre-2012 form though. Therefore, for a lower risk, they have a chance to get a pitcher that they should be paying a lot more money for.
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