That self-assurance in taking control of events rather than waiting for them to control you is a core part of why the Nats have risen from 103 losses to 98 wins in just three years. And it’s a reason that Haren, one of baseball’s best pitchers of the past eight years, just grabbed a $13 million, one-year deal Tuesday to join a Nats pennant push. Remember when the Nats had to give an extra year, perhaps two, to get free agent Jayson Werth to sign?
“The sky is the limit for this team,” Haren told The Post’s Adam Kilgore.
After a career of remarkable durability, Haren made his first trip to the disabled list last season.
“I’m confident I’ll hold up my end,” he said. “The deciding factor . . . was winning. I don’t think there’s a team better positioned to win now. . . . It didn’t take me long to decide.”
Whether the Nats are shutting down Stephen Strasburg or intensely courting Adam LaRoche (on their terms) while making moves that render his decision tangential, they do things their way. And GM Mike Rizzo and Manager Davey Johnson don’t much care what others think. Span asked in a tweet, “What’s Natitude?” It’s trading for you, buddy, when plenty of others wouldn’t, then putting 13 million chips on Haren-to-win.
That swaggering confidence is why the Nats almost finished their offseason work before the winter meetings, the supposed ignition of the hot stove league, even reached their midpoint Tuesday. While other teams still have a finger in the wind or hope Zack Greinke loves ’em, the Nats have only one lefty bullpen spot to fill. If their own free agent LaRoche signs for two years, that is great. If not, the Nats have first basemen aplenty, with Michael Morse, Tyler Moore and more in the minors.
What will the Nats’ winter hold? We can stop asking. Except for LaRoche’s decision on himself, they are basically done, and winter’s still 17 days away.
When it comes to Haren and Span, what do the Nats believe so firmly? And are they more likely right or wrong?
The Nats think Haren’s back and hip, which forced him to miss three starts in a 12-13 season, are minor issues, if that. “I feel great,” said Haren, who came back to post a 3.65 ERA in 13 starts after returning from the DL. Reports say the Red Sox didn’t like the look of the medicals on Haren’s hip. Haren says he’s had that same problem for many years, and it’s irrelevant. We’ll see who did better homework.