The Los Angeles Dodgers have had a very exciting offseason, as they signed star outfielder Matt Kemp to an eight-year contract extension. The Los Angeles Dodgers have had a very boring offseason, as they signed free agents Matt Treanor, Mark Ellis, Adam Kennedy, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Juan Rivera. Early Tuesday, the Los Angeles Dodgers made a move ranking somewhere in between very boring and very exciting. They locked up free agent starter Aaron Harang, according to Jon Heyman:
On the excitement scale, Harang fits between Ellis and Chris Capuano, who the Dodgers also recently signed. He'll be expected to serve as the team's fifth starter behind Capuano, Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly. Another option would've been leaning on prospect Nathan Eovaldi, but the 21-year-old has limited experience above double-A, so the Dodgers will allow him to develop in the minors.
What's the deal with Harang? First, he's 33. Next, he's right-handed. Next, he was born in San Diego and prefers playing on the west coast. Finally, he posted a 3.64 ERA last season with the Padres, although that was good for just a 98 ERA+.
Harang's kind of a difficult guy to figure out. In his best years, with the Reds, he limited his walks and generated a fair number of strikeouts. The last two years, his walks have gone up and his strikeouts have gone down despite no apparent decline in stuff. That has, naturally, made him less successful. But even if this is who he is now, he's still fine for a fifth starter, so in that regard the Dodgers probably won't regret this too much. If and when Eovaldi is ready, space can be made. For now, Harang fills a need, at a moderate price.