Haren was set to make a whopping $15.5 million this upcoming season, but a major drop in his performance in 2012 led the Angels to pass on the 32-year-old veteran. This presents a perfect opportunity for Alex Anthopoulos and the Toronto Blue Jays to make a move for a pitcher who could still put up some impressive numbers.
While this past season's 4.33 ERA and 1.29 WHIP are disconcerting, they appear to be a fluke of a season more so than a natural decline in production. For instance, since the 2005 season, Haren had never pitched less than 216.0 innings in a single season.Yet, this year, Haren threw less than 180.0 innings. And since 2007, he'd also never posted an ERA over 3.91. But this season, it jumped to 4.33.
These radical shifts in statistics don't indicate a steady decline in performance so much as an off year. This is why he'd be a great option for the Jays.
Should they go out and give him $15.5 million?
Of course not.
A four-year deal worth about $10.5 million per season wouldn't be unacceptable, though.
Think about it.
This is a guy who will consistently eat up over 215 innings a season and who rarely posts an ERA over 3.50. In fact, the season he posted that 3.91 ERA was the year he was moved to the Angels. Following that trade, he posted a sparkling 2.87 ERA and decent 1.16 WHIP in 14 starts.
In 2011 (his first full season in Anaheim), Haren started 34 games—one shy of his career high. That season, he won 16 games, threw for a career-high 238.1 innings, had an incredible 3.17 ERA and had a very respectable 1.02 WHIP. He also struck out 192 hitters, only issued 33 non-intentional walks and threw four complete games.
This was just a season ago.
Sure, Haren's performance in 2012 may have scared off some teams around the league. But this is a guy who is one season removed for a career year and has been consistently successful over the course of his career.
In a year in which the Jays won't have many options on the free-agent market with regards to starting pitching, Haren may be Toronto's best chance to acquire a top-of-the-rotation arm without having to deal away any prospects.