According to multiple reports Sunday, the Dodgers will sign free-agent right-hander Dan Haren to a one-year, $10 million contract with an option for 2015 that vests at 180 innings, pending a physical. Terms of the contract were first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com.
Haren, 33, went 10-14 with a 4.67 earned-run average in 30 starts last season for the Washington Nationals. Known as a fly-ball pitcher who pitches to contact, Haren is 2-3 with a 3.49 ERA in eight career starts at Dodger Stadium.
Haren has made at least 30 starts each of the last nine seasons, and his 297 starts since 2005 are tied for the most among all major-league pitchers.
The Monterey Park native was coming off a one-year, $13 million contract that he signed in Dec. 2012.
Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis quickly chimed in with his opinion of the signing:
Excited about Dan Haren. Always admired his professionalism. Also atop "guys I want to catch because I struggle hitting them" list.
— AJ Ellis (@AJEllis17) November 25, 2013
He joins a Dodger rotation that was strong at the top in 2013, but had some question marks beyond Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu going into 2014.
Ricky Nolasco became a free agent and now seems less likely to re-sign. The Dodgers didn’t pick up the option in Chris Capuano’s contract, leaving vacancies for a number-four and number-five starter.
Veteran Josh Beckett is expected to be ready to pitch in spring training after missing the final four and a half months of the season with thoracic outlet syndrome, which eventually required surgery. Chad Billingsley underwent Tommy John surgery last April and hopes to be pitching in games again in April.
The Dodgers are also expected to make a run at Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who many evaluators consider the best pitcher on the free agent market. (Tanaka is unable to sign with a major-league team until Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball agree to a new posting system.) That could give the Dodgers a surplus of starters — Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu, Beckett, Billingsley, Haren and possibly Tanaka — similiar to the logjam they broke camp with in 2013.
Kershaw, Ryu, Beckett, Greinke and Billingsley were the Dodgers’ starters when the season began. Capuano and Aaron Harang were banished to the bullpen, and Ted Lilly to the disabled list. Harang was eventually traded and Lilly designated for assignment. In spite of their surplus, a series of injuries forced the Dodgers to use 11 starters last season.
If all their projected starting pitchers are healthy again, the Dodgers may have to be similarly creative with their rotation in 2014.