The Red Sox know where their biggest problems lie. They know that to contend in 2013 they're going to have to fix the starting rotation.
The question is: how are they going to do it?
They have the money, to be certain. Having shed so much of their payroll to the Dodgers, money is basically no object to the Sox right now. The problem will be convincing people to come to Boston without committing too much to them in years. For other teams, this would bar guys like Zack Greinke, but you need look no further than the saga of Edwin Jackson in 2011 to see that it's still possible for teams to acquire quality players (and not even ones who need to rebuild their value after bad seasons) on short-term deals.
Boston, however, has another limiting factor which makes it all-the-more difficult to acquire pitching talent: Fenway Park. However much we may love our cathedral of baseball, the fact of the matter is that its cramped dimensions make it a place where pitching stats go to die. And, since the Sox are asking players to come in on short-term deals, any pitcher coming to Boston that's not headed towards retirement has to fear a serious loss of earning potential down the road.
And this is why Dan Haren is so interesting an option: because they don't have to ask. The Angels, as Marc informed you earlier today, are set to say no on his option. For them, that means a $3.5 million loss, and nothing else.
This may sound familiar to you, since it's similar to the situation I described earlier this week surrounding Jake Peavy. And indeed they are very much alike with just one difference: according to Cot's Baseball Contracts, Dan Haren does not have a no-trade clause in his deal.
If that's the case, then all the Sox have to do is convince the Angels to take a win-win deal. The Angels get the $3.5 million off their payroll, and maybe some fringe prospect for show, and the Red Sox get Dan Haren's option year. Everybody wins! Except maybe Haren. But he gets $15.5 million out of it, so he can't really complain too much.
Haren is by no means the golden bullet. A one-time great pitcher who's fallen on hard times, perhaps thanks to a back injury, there's a very real chance he comes into Fenway and pulls an Oswalt. That being said, the Sox are not in a position to be choosy. If Haren works out, he can bing the Sox the sort of frontline pitching that otherwise seems completely unattainable shy of a Greinke disaster-in-the-making. And if he doesn't, then what has the team really lost?
This will likely have to wait for the offseason since the Angels are making a playoff push and Haren would have to clear waivers besides. But if the Sox and Angels can work out the details and just have Los Angeles pick up his option with the understanding he'd be traded (similar to how the Dodgers claimed Josh Beckett knowing he would only be coming in the case of a larger Adrian Gonzalez trade) then there's no real reason I can see that it can't work out.