The Nationals and Haren agreed Tuesday on a one-year, $13 million deal, according to a person with knowledge of the agreement. Once the contract is finalized, Haren will join four 20-somethings with lightning in their arms, completing the rotation that helps make the Nationals a World Series favorite.
With Haren in the fold and Denard Span in center field, the Nationals have nearly completed their offseason checklist. They still want to re-sign first baseman Adam LaRoche, and they still need to add a left-hander in the bullpen. But building off a 98-win season, the Nationals have put a roster in place that should allow them to contend for Washington’s first title since 1924.
“World Series or bust,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “That’s probably the slogan this year. But I’m comfortable with that.”
It is why Haren chose the Nationals. Haren, 32, still needs to pass a physical, which will take place Thursday in Washington, for the deal to become official. Haren pitched through a back injury and a lingering hip issue that alarmed some teams. But Haren said he has already taken a physical for another interested team, and he checked out fine.
“The team was much less concerned about me physically after looking at me,” Haren said.
Haren expressed complete confidence in his health and clarified the issues he faced. Haren tweaked his back in spring training last year, which, after he pitched through it for the first half of the season, led to him landing on the disabled list for the first time in his career. His back feels better now, and Haren said he has managed the hip issue since his early seasons.
“As for my health I feel great,” Haren said. “I actually felt great toward the end of last year, and I was battling my mechanics a lot but was still getting good results. I guess teams were concerned of a hip issue that I’ve dealt with since my time in Oakland. It never has and never will cause me to miss time.”
Haren, a three-time all-star, gives the Nationals a veteran workhorse to place into a rotation that includes an unrestricted Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Ross Detwiler. His style, cutters and splitters and precise control, differs from his hard-throwing company, and his experience will give the starting five a new dimension.