Dan Haren said yesterday was “one of the most anxious days” of his life

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If you thought the drama involving Dan Haren yesterday was crazy from an outsider’s perspective, just imagine being the guy in the middle of it all.

Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com caught up with Haren late last night after the proposed deal with the Cubs fell through and the Angels bought out his $15.5 million option for 2013, making him a free agent.

Haren actually followed the proceedings via Twitter, which he admitted was pretty nerve-wracking given the constant conflicting reports throughout the night.

“I don’t even know what to think, really,” Haren said in a phone interview with MLB.com late Friday night, moments after his roller-coaster day was finally over. “This day has been one of the most anxious days of my life, definitely of my baseball career. I’ve been glued to my phone all day. I’ve tried to stay as busy as I could, but the fact of the matter is I was trying to keep up with what was going on.”

Once reports surfaced regarding the trade, Haren and his wife warmed to the idea of spending some time in Chicago. However, it wasn’t long before Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto told him that the deal was off and that his option was being declined.

“I don’t know what went on on his end, but I knew he wasn’t going to make any quick decisions,” Haren said. “I had the feeling that it was going to go on throughout the day, and it definitely did. I knew the deadline was today. My agent was in town and we were kind of going through it together. Like I said, it was a very anxious day for me, for my wife, just not knowing where our next city would be. I thought for sure it would be somewhere else. I thought for sure I’d know today where I’d be playing next year, but that’s obviously not the case.”

Haren is interested in returning to the Angels and would do so at a discounted rate, but Dipoto said last night that the possibility isn’t all that likely. On the bright side, the 32-year-old right-hander got a $3.5 million buyout for his troubles and should fetch a multi-year deal as one of the top starting pitchers available in free agency, even coming off a down year.

Keeping Zack Greinke is expected to be the Angels’ No. 1 priority this offseason, even though Dipoto says that he isn’t “isolated” on signing him. It’s going to take big money to keep Greinke in the fold and he appears to have quite a bit of leverage with the Angels at the moment, as their projected rotation for 2013 currently includes Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Jerome Williams, Garrett Richards and Barry Enright.

2017 Winter Meetings Preview

Craig Calcaterra
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL — The baseball world has descended on the Swan and Dolphin Resort at Disney World for the 2017 Winter Meetings. There’s a lot of work to be done.

The two biggest names on the market — Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton — have found new homes, but so far only 33 of baseball’s 249 free agents have signed, almost all of them minor. Still looking for a home: Yu Darvish, J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Jake Arrieta, CC Sabathia, Lorenzo Cain, Wade Davis, Lance Lynn, Greg Holland and many, many more. In early November we ran down the top free agents, position-by-position, to help you get a jump on who is available and what your team is looking at as it seeks to fill its needs.

It’s not just players looking for homes this week, however. It’s teams looking to make up for their failures in the Ohtani and Stanton derbies. The Cardinals and Giants both went big to get Stanton and came up empty. The Giants were likewise in Ohtani, but no dice. Baseball’s worst team in 2017 is obviously willing to spend some money to improve, and now they will look elsewhere to spend it. The Red Sox weren’t in on those two, but since it’s biggest rival landed Giancarlo Stanton, GM Dave Dombrowski will no doubt be kicking the tires hard on J.D. Martinez or Eric Hosmer to try to keep pace. The Mariners acquired a lot of international pool money in their quest for Ohtani, but they could still use a starting pitcher or two, so perhaps they may look at, say, Jake Arrieta? Lance Lynn? Yu Darvish? Well, they should, but who knows if they will.

Despite the sheer number of available free agents, this is a thin free agent class in terms of talent. That means that, for a team to improve significantly, they may be better served by making a trade. The Marlins already traded Stanton, but their fire sale does not seem to be over. Could they deal the newly-acquired Starlin Castro? Christian Yelich? Marcel Ozuna? Bet on yes, and bet on any team wishing to spend prospects instead of free agent cash to take what Miami is unloading. Other potential trade candidates: Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen, Rays starter Chris Archer and third baseman Evan Longoria and Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler.

Trade deals and free agent negotiations take place behind closed doors at the Swan and Dolphin. One of the major public activities of the Winter Meetings is when all 30 of the managers meet and greet the press. This year there are six new men at the helm: Dave Martinez in Washington, Mickey Callaway with the Mets, Gabe Kapler — Baseball’s Most Handsome Manager — in Philly, Alex Cora in Boston, Aaron Boone with the Yankees and Rob Gardenhire with the Tigers. I’ll be in the scrum for a lot of these guys — they do them two at a time so I can’t see everyone — and will let you know if they say anything fun. Or if any of them slug me for saying that they’re ugly.

Outside of the transactions and the Hall of Fame stuff, we have the more mundane Winter Meetings business. Indeed, the vast majority of the people at the Meetings aren’t there for transactions. They’re there to network, seek jobs and discuss the business of baseball like any other industry convention. Ever year we hear about a rule change or a proposal for future rule changes at the Meetings. The big one everyone is talking about this offseason is the possibility of a pitch clock.

The final event of the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place at 8am on Thursday morning. You likely have no idea who most of the players who will be selected are, but here’s a good place to start your research on that. If your team takes someone in the draft, the most important thing to know is that he’ll either be on the big league roster all year or he’ll have to be returned to his original team. Well, they could be stashed on the disabled list with phantom injuries so they won’t have to be returned, but no team would ever do that, would they? Perish the thought.

So, yes, there’s a lot to be done. I’ll be on the scene down here at Disney World, bringing you all the best hot stove business we have to offer and, as usual, some more fun odds and ends from baseball’s biggest offseason event.