Otto Greule Jr
Boston needs pitching, but maybe they don't need it this badly
While no word of an offer -- or whether or no there was an offer to begin with -- has been reported, multiple reasons for why Dan Haren isn't currently on the Red Sox have come out in the few hours since the pitcher signed with the Nationals. First up, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe:
Red Sox didn't like what they saw on Dan Haren's medicals on his hip.— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) December 4, 2012
Boston takes risks on players with injury issues all the time. John Lackey was signed for five years with an elbow that was such a possibility for a re-occurring issue that language was placed in his contract protecting Boston against it. Carl Crawford had his own health issues that were well-documented and preexisting, but he received an even longer deal. (And two surgeries for Boston's trouble.) That's not all, of course, but it's enough to prove a point. And that point isn't that the Red Sox have struck out on this player type often, it's more to say that they give it a shot, and even do so with lots at stake.
Basically, when you a club with that kind of history of going for it with injured guys who have talent, and their reaction is "No thanks, I'm good," then there's probably a high likelihood of something being amiss. Recent and topical example: it was one general manager ago, but Theo Epstein and his front office crew (a group that included current GM Ben Cherington) rejected a deal with the Oakland Athletics for Rich Harden, due to his medicals. Boston had a pitcher in John Lackey who had already received a cortisone shot in his elbow, and another in Clay Buchholz who was having tests performed on his back, and they said no to a pitcher who, at that moment, was still in possession of a pulse.
Then, to make it even more apparent something was seriously wrong with Harden, Boston went out and traded for his brother in oft-injured solidarity, Erik Bedard. Who, by the way, then missed starts due to injury. Harden, though, ended up having major shoulder surgery after the season, and didn't pitch particularly well prior to that. So, Boston does have a limit in place for the kind of risk they'll take on, and they didn't want to give up a certain number of resources for a pitcher they thought had a very high chance of being injured.
That brings us to Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston:
Red Sox liked Haren, but it was simply a matter of money. Weren't going to $13mafter a season in which his velocity dipped— Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) December 4, 2012
With Harden, the currency was prospects, but with free agent hurler Haren, it was, well, actual currency. And $13 million was too much of it for their tastes, given his velocity and the effectiveness of his fastball has slipped over the last couple of years. Coming to the AL East from the AL West might not have been a shock like in the old days, but the jump from pitcher-friendly Angels Stadium of Anaheim to Fenway Park would have been jarring. And expensive. And also he might end up on the disabled list.
It's also worth pointing out that the Angels, who were in possession of the medical files Boston was not enamored with, offered Haren a two-year deal, but heavy on the incentives, and with nowhere near the guaranteed base salarythat the Nationals handed out. After watching him struggle with back problems all season, in conjunction with the hip issue that has other teams worried, it's not a surprise his most-recent club would only go this far.
Just because Boston has money doesn't mean they need to spend it all in one silly place, or as fast as possible. If the Nationals want to risk paying Dan Haren $13 million for a year when his medicals aren't checking out -- and, to be fair, he hasn't passed his physical with Washington yet -- then that's their decision. There are other guys with lesser questions marks and plenty of talent out there, and they will likely take in less guaranteed cash when they sign.