Nats lose Haren, part ways with Maya

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Updated: November 25, 2013

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The Washington Nationals have lost starting pitcher Dan Haren.  Haren signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend.

Haren struggled in the early part of last season and ended up with a stint on the disabled list for shoulder pain.  After his return, Haren put in the type of solids starts that the Nats were expecting all along when he was signed as a free agent.   He ended the 2013 season with a 10-14 record with a 4.67 ERA over 169 2/3 innings.  Still, there was absolutely no indication that the Nats had any interest in his return and reportedly Haren told the Nats of his desire to head back to the West Coast.

Replacing Haren in the starting rotation will be one of the more profound off-season decisions for GM Mike Rizzo.  The Nats have been linked in rumors to David Price, Max Scherzer, Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana and Hiroki Kuroda.  Price, Scherzer, and Garza appear to command more than what the Nationals may be willing to pay.

The option I support is to fill both the 4th and 5th slots internally.  The Nationals organization has a ton of respect around the baseball world for being wealthy in young pitching talent.  Some of the talent has already developed at the major league level and pitched well enough to have earned bigger roles in 2014.   Within the system, the Nats have Ross Detwiler, Taylor Jordan, Tanner Roark, Nathan Karns, and Sammy Solis as young pitchers that could battle for the two final rotation slots behind starters Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, and Gio Gonzalez.

The problem with Detwiler is health.  He has a fragile back and missed substantial time last season.  There are indications that the Nats could look at Detwiler in a bullpen role and as a spot starter, given his durability issues.  Taylor Jordan had a decent debut season last year for the Nats.  The 24 year old right-hander started 9 games for the Nats and posted a 1-3 record with a 3.66 ERA.  In 51.2 innings, Jordan allowed 11 walks and fanned 29 batters.  Combined between A and AA, Jordan posted a 9-1 record with an impressive 1.00 ERA, allowing just 10 runs over 90.1 innings.  Jordan will likely have one of the final two rotations slots.

Tanner Roark came on late and seized his opportunity with the Nationals.  Brought up late to bolster the bullpen, Roark ended up making 5 starts in 14 appearances for the Nats.  In 15 games, Roark finished the season with a 7-1 record and an ERA of 1.51.  In 53.2 big league innings, Roark allowed only 11 walks compared to 40 strikeouts.  He ended the season with an impressive 0.913 WHIP.  Still, I suspect the Nats are looking at Roark more for a bullpen and spot start role in 2014.

Sammy Solis was a second-round pick of the Nats in the 2010 MLB Draft.  Solis is likely fast tracked to DC soon.  He is highly regarded by the front office.  Solis was impressive over the past two months in the Arizona Fall League, posting a 2.17 ERA over 29 innings.  Solis posted a 3.43 ERA over 57.2 innings at Potomac this season, his first season back from Tommy John surgery.

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Additionally, the Nats have parted ways with Cuban born pitcher Yunesky Maya.  Washington invested nearly $6 million in the Cuban born pitcher, but got nearly zilch in return.

The Nats are also likely discussing parameters for contract extensions with both Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann.  Those deals will likely boost the Nats payroll even more, which is already a Top ten MLB payroll.