MLB Hot Stove: Washington Nationals Should Make a Play for Dan Haren

Kenny DeJohnAnalyst IIINovember 3, 2012

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have declined Dan Haren's $15.5 million option for the 2013 season, making him a free agent.

Haren, who wants to remain with the Angels, will now be in search of a home if general manager Jerry Dipoto chooses to take an alternative route.

The right-hander is coming off arguably his worst season as a full-time starter. He produced a 4.33 ERA and a 12-13 record in 30 starts for the Angels.

It was also the first season he failed to pitch 200 innings (176.2) since 2004 as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Because of his down year, there's a strong chance that Haren could look to re-establish his value in 2013 on a one-year deal. If that's the case, Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo should jump at the chance to sign him.

Haren has consistently been one of the better pitchers in the league since 2005, and one down season doesn't necessarily mean that he is on the decline. His decline may be on its way (he's 32 years old), but it might not be here just yet.

Rizzo could offer Haren a one-year deal in the neighborhood of $8 million. This should appeal to Haren for two reasons. One, it gives him the opportunity to play for a winner. Secondly, the National League East is essentially an average offensive division.

He won't have to face an offense like the Texas Rangers several times during the season like he had to with the Angels. This should offer him a great opportunity to right the ship.

The Nationals also have the money to extend Haren if he gets back to his dominant ways before the 2013 season ends.

If that becomes the case, the Nationals rotation would arguably have the best four-deep rotation—Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Haren—in the majors.

Haren is sure to have several suitors this offseason. Rizzo and the Nationals represent a very good fit for the 32-year-old righty, and will likely be in the race until the very end.