Should the Nats Move Dan Haren

 

Before getting into the baseball part of this I want to apologize for not
writing as frequently as I should. With the Nats nose-diving a couple weeks
back I turned my attention to something else. A non-baseball writing project I
am working on, and while working on that I decided to crack open my old laptop
and publish some of the work from that. You can buy, read, and review it here. I will thank you immensely if you do. Now, on to
baseball.

It is my belief that the Nationals do
not really want to trade Dan Haren. They have reportedly asked for an Alex
Meyer level prospect. They won’t get that for Dan Haren and they know it. The
only reason to ask for that level of prospect is to either make a team think
they won when you “cave” and accept a lower level prospect or because
there is no real interest in trading the player.  

The question with the Nats recent play
is should they be interested in
trading Dan Haren. It is unlikely that they want any of the minor leaguers
starting as the Nats are big on innings limits and such but Nathan Karns has
pitched at the majors this season and more innings would only help his 2014
innings limit. AJ Cole, Robbie Ray, and all the other more prospect like
pitching prospects won’t get an inning in the majors this season, and throwing
them into what could be a pennant race isn’t exactly fair, and there is also
the fact that Dan Haren has a 2.53 ERA since coming off the DL and has been the
Nats best starting pitcher since the All-Star Break. If the Nats are serious
about closing the gap with the Reds they, in no uncertain terms, need Dan
Haren. 

Then there are the other facts. The
Nats are seven games back. That means on seven days they need to win when the
Reds lose and all other results must be the same. There are only 30 games left
in the season and this isn’t the type of thing that happens with the Reds
having a seven game losing streak that coincides with a Nats seven game winning
streak. Making up a seven game deficit with no head to head games is highly
improbable and nothing I would want to bet money on.    

There is another reason to keep Dan
Haren though and it has nothing to do with a qualifying offer. Haren would jump
at that so quick it wouldn’t be funny. He isn’t going to get close to $13
million on the open market. He was considered a gamble last off-season and will
be seen as more of one this off-season. If I were a GM trying to sign Dan Haren
I would be offering $5-7 million for his services, but even without the
qualifying offer the Nats have exclusive negotiating rights up until free
agency opens in November, and when no other offers can be on the table it is
sometimes easier to work out a deal.   

Now who is the real Dan Haren? Is it
the broken down, can’t drive towards the plate pitcher we saw in the first half
or is it the lights out control artist we’ve watched recently? His career
numbers indicate it is closer to the latter and if you look at the first half
numbers the control and strikeouts were there but when he missed with a pitch
it was hammered out of the ballpark. A near 2.0 HR/9 was as unsustainable as a
statistic gets and it has indeed regressed. The Dan Haren Nats fans are seeing now
is the Dan Haren that has always pitched under the name Dan Haren in the
majors. If the Nats trade him they lose the exclusive negotiating window, but I
am not so sure how much that matters. Haren is going to want to get as much as
he can on the market and all it takes is one GM to look at his second half and
truly believe in it and offer him a five year deal.  

Ultimately the question comes down to
do the Nats believe they can make up seven games in 30. That is a tough one to
answer. It is most likely no, but if Harper, LaRoche, and Zim get hot while
Werth stays hot and Strasburg, Gio, and Zimm do what they can and Haren holds
down the fourth spot the Nats are better positioned than most other teams down
seven games. It is likely too little too late, but if any team has the talent
to make a run it is the Nats, but they won’t be able to do it without Dan Haren
and that is the only reason to keep him instead of flipping him to the
Cardinals and getting something for him.  

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