Gonzalez: Angels Plan To Decline Options On Haren, Santana

Doug Pensinger - Getty Images

The Los Angeles Angels have decisions to make about three-fifths of their rotation for 2013, and right now, they're planning to cut most of it loose.

The free agent market for front line pitching is thin, but there will reportedly be two additional options out there this off-season. MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez:

A source familiar with the team's thinking told me recently that he expects the Angels to cut ties with both [Ervin] Santana and [Dan] Haren this offseason and focus their efforts on signing him [Zack Greinke] to a multi-year extension. So, I expect the Angels to decline their team options on Santana ($13 million) and Haren ($15.5 million) during the exclusive negotiating window and go hard after Greinke (six years, $125 million is the price tag many have associated with him). But if they can't resign him, perhaps then - and only then, in my mind - they try to bring back Haren and/or Santana.

This means that Ervin Santana and Dan Haren will both be free agents, something that, a year ago, wouldn't have sounded sane. But Haren is coming off of a down year in which his back bothered him, and Santana has reverted to his old ways, where he's unreliable thanks to an inconsistent slider, his primary offering. That makes Haren's $15.5 million option for 2013 a bit on the expensive side if the Angels want to lock up Greinke for a presumably exorbitant amount, and Santana at $13 million isn't the least bit excusable even without Greinke negotiations for context.

Thanks to buyouts, declining these options won't be free for the Angels. But $3.5 million to dismiss Haren, and $1 million to let Santana go, is far less of a sum than their combined $28.5 million for 2013 found in the options.

Santana has little in the way of middle ground. He averaged 170 innings per year from 2007 through 2009, with ERA+ of 79, 127, and 87, respectively, averaging out to a somewhat misleading 97. Then, from 2010 through 2012, he managed a similar feat, with a 96 ERA+ over the three seasons, but marks of 102, 111, and 76. As a back-end starter on a manageable deal, Santana is interesting in case you get one of those good seasons, but as any kind of option to be relied upon, he's risky. Boston already has the back-end set, and cheaply -- it's the middle and top that needs some help.

That's where Haren could come in, assuming he is going to be available on a one-year deal with an option, or willing to take a short-term deal that emphasizes money over contract length. The 2012 season has been rough, with Haren posting an ERA+ of 86, but from 2007 through 2011, Haren owned a 127 ERA+, averaged 228 innings and 34 starts per year, and led the league in K/BB three times. Even if he's closer to the last three years -- 104 ERA+, 213 innings per year -- there's a lot to like at the right price. That's getting a middle of the rotation starter with potential to be better than that.

There's risk in either, especially Haren, given the cost, and the fact that a back injury sapped him of his skill this year. But, in a somewhat thin free agent market, there's reason to pay attention to who other teams are making available.

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