Haren has high hopes for Nationals' rotation
Free-agent righty not likely to return but confident in team's pitching ability
WASHINGTON -- Free-agent right-hander Dan Haren is confident that he will sign with a Major League team, but at this stage of the game, he does not want to say which teams have an interest in his services. Though published reports have him linked to the Giants and Yankees, he is not close to signing with any team.
"I talked to a lot of teams, but it's still early in the process," Haren said via telephone. "I went through it last year. Things didn't pick up until the Winter Meetings or a little bit prior. The GM Meetings are going on, so I know my agent is out there talking to teams."
One team to which Haren will not be linked is the Nationals, for whom he played this past season. He went 10-14 with a 4.69 ERA but had a respectable 3.29 ERA after coming off the disabled list on July 8. Haren said that going on the DL was a smart move.
"I sat in the office with [then-manager] Davey [Johnson] and [GM] Mike [Rizzo]. We just came to the conclusion that it would be the best thing to do -- take some time, step back a little bit," Haren said. "Rizz mentioned that after I came off the DL last year with the Angels, I threw the ball really well the rest of the year.
"I said, 'Rizz, I stunk up to that point. Who am I to make any decisions?' I told him, 'Whatever decision you make, I'll respect that.' He said he wanted to put me on the DL. I would come back as soon as possible. He kept his word. When I came back, with the exception of one or two games, I pitched the way I wanted to pitch as a National."
Although Haren pitched well from July 8 until the end of the season, he and Rizzo had an understanding that he would not be back in 2014.
"We kind of had the same understanding that we could go our separate ways," Haren said. "I think Rizz is a smart guy. The Nats are pretty much set. They have a lot of pieces coming into the system."
The Nationals want to make the rotation even stronger. When told that Washington is interested in Tampa Bay left-hander David Price and Detroit right-hander Max Scherzer, Haren said he thinks the club can make a push for a pitcher of that caliber, pointing out that the Nats have enough players in their farm system to pull off a trade.
"The [Nats'] rotation is one of the best in the National League," Haren said. "Price, the guy is lights out. I've seen him pitch many times before. A real competitor out there. I really like the way he pitches. With Scherzer, I played with him in Arizona, and he was just a kid. It has been fun watching him develop. He has turned himself into a true ace.
"Price and Scherzer throw in the mid-90s, which I know Rizz likes. They have swing-and-miss stuff. The rotation would be unbelievable. It would make it a very special group. I also think Tanner Roark deserves a shot, at least. I think the guys in the locker room feel that way. They were impressed by the way he threw."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.