Players excited by Williams hire
With most of their players under contract for 2014, the Nationals aren’t faced with many tough decisions when it comes to the beginning of free agency. The players they let walk on Friday – Dan Haren and Chad Tracy – were easy calls for Mike Rizzo and the Nats front office. They both underachieved this season and Haren in particular played a sizable role in the team’s underwhelming 86-win record.
Now both Haren and Tracy, each 33 years old, will look for new contracts on the open market. And, according to Hardball Talk, Haren could be a relatively hot commodity.
Haren, in fact, is ranked 24th in Hardball Talk’s rankings of the top 150 MLB free agents for this offseason. It’s a sign of both his improvement late in the year and his reputation around the league after an otherwise illustrious career.
Here’s what HBT said about Haren:
Haren salvaged his season following a midseason stint on the DL to rest an inflamed shoulder. After going 4-9 with a 6.15 ERA in 15 starts prior to the injury, he finished up 6-5 with a 3.29 ERA the rest of the way. The peripherals suggest that he’s worthy of another one-year, $13 million deal, which is what he got from the Nationals last winter. Since his velocity is down and he’s not the workhorse that he used to be, a multiyear deal would be dangerous.
The last point is an important one, that Haren is very unlikely to earn more than a one-year contract. But he could conceivably get a lucrative deal for 2014. The same list has him ahead of pitchers who were better in 2013 including Scott Feldman, Paul Maholm and Scott Kazmir. Haren won’t get the $13 million he was paid this past season, but he’ll get some decent offers.
Tracy is nowhere on the list which is somewhat surprising. Not that he would rank high, but he probably has a few years remaining as a left-handed bat off the bench. Tracy wasn’t good enough to be a key bench player on a team like the Nats this season, but a younger club looking for a veteran presence would make sense for him.
The absence of Tracy on HBT’s list may not bode well for his chances to play in the majors next season. They ranked several guys over him that are on the verge of retirement, including Octavio Dotel who pitched just 4 2/3 innings in 2013 due to an elbow injury and Jamey Carroll, also 40, who hit just .211 in 227 at-bats.
Towards the bottom of the list are also a few former Nationals players. John Lannan is considered the 147th overall free agent after an injury shortened year with the Phillies, and Wil Nieves slots at 143 after hitting .297 through 195 at-bats in Arizona.
To see the full list go to HardballTalk.com.