Nationals, Dan Haren reportedly reach agreement

Ed Zurga

The deal is reportedly for one year, $13 million.

Admit it. You were scared the Nationals weren't going to have enough pitching. A deep and strong rotation might have got deeper and stronger, as the Nationals and free-agent right-hander Dan Haren reportedly reached a one-year, $13 million deal.

Haren wasn't supposed to be a free agent, as the Angels held an option on his 2013 season. But a disappointing 2012 and lingering back problems scared the Angels away, putting Haren on the market. At this time last year, Haren was considered one of the better starters in the American League. Now he's on a one-year show-me deal, trying to raise his value for a big, multi-year deal next offseason.

Haren was 12-13 last year with a 4.33 ERA in 176 innings. The control was good, and the strikeout stuff was still there, but his velocity was down, and he was hit much harder. The Cubs originally thought they had a deal worked out for Haren before the Angels declined his option, but the deal fell through, possibly because of medical concerns.

And that's still a concern. Ken Rosenthal says the reported deal is "pending a physical," which isn't the normal kind of disclaimer that's easy to gloss over. Haren could literally have a family of raccoons in his back -- literally! -- chewing on vertebrae and washing their hands in the fluid that has accumulated over time.

That isn't to say it's a bad gamble for the Nats, who already had one of baseball's best rotations without Haren. A healthy, effective Haren would give Washington a staff with four top-of-the-rotation pitchers. Maybe they can get a deal on surplus "Four Aces" merchandise from the Phillies. They have the same colors, so just a little Sharpie magic, and those shirts will be good as new.

Last offseason, the Nationals lurked around the free-agent market and swooped in when Edwin Jackson lowered his demands to one year. They found a replacement for Jackson on a one-year deal, but this time they jumped in early. The upside is an ace-type without the long-term risk. The downside is a bad back for $13 million. But as long as it's not your money, that's not a downside that should concern you.

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