Report - Dodgers Sign Dan Haren

Ken Rosenthal reports that the Dodgers have agreed to a one year deal with right-handed starter Dan Haren. Here's why I think it will be a good deal for LA.

It was no secret that the Dodgers came into the offseason looking for pitching help. So, instead of breaking the bank on a guy like Ricky Nolasco or Ervin Santana, they made a wise decision by inking righty Dan Haren to a 1 year deal.

The Goods

Haren, 33, was once a dominant pitcher. He isn't anymore. After seven straight seasons with over 200 innings, he finally began feeling the effects in 2012 when he missed three weeks with back and hip problems. In 2013, he hit the disabled list with a sore shoulder. However, he's made 30 starts in each of the past two seasons and pitched an average of more than 170 innings.

Unsurprisingly, Dan's velocity has dropped off over the past few years and he's begun throwing his cutter nearly as much as his four-seamer. That doesn't bode well for his long term health and the pitch wasn't very effective for him last season. Given the fact that he doesn't throw many breaking balls, he'll need a weapon against righties as they posted a higher OPS against (.792) last season than lefties (.722). You could call him a slow starter. His ERA in the first half of 2013 was 5.61. In the second half? 3.52. In 2012, his second half ERA was 1.30 points lower than the first half.

Something that caught me by surprise was seeing how little Haren has used his two seamer over the last two years. According to Pitch F/X, he threw the two seamer 4.8% and 7.5% of the time in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Prior to that, he threw it 16.3% and 19.3% of the time in 2010 and 2011. Coincidentally, his home run rate has jumped to nearly 1.5 / 9 in the past two seasons, while it was 1.19/9 and 0.76/9 in the previous two seasons. His groundball rate has also dropped below 40% in each of the past two seasons. If the Pitch F/X numbers are correct, he'd be served well to throw his 2 seamer more often.

He's a local boy. Grew up in Monterey Park and went to college at Pepperdine. So that's something.

The Verdict

In a market where Jason Vargas got 4 years and $32 million, a 1 year contract for a veteran like Haren makes a lot of sense. He's not an ace anymore, but as a #4 there's enough upside for him to provide surplus value with the right combination of luck and reliance on his 2 seamer. This move doesn't preclude the Dodgers from acquiring another starter, but if Masahiro Tanaka isn't posted and a trade for an ace isn't completed, it puts the team in a much more comfortable place.