Nationals sign Dan Haren to one-year, $13 million contract

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Dan Haren has agreed to a one-year, $13 million contract with the Nationals, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.

Last month the Angels nearly traded Haren to the Cubs for Carlos Marmol and then, when that fell through, declined his $15.5 million option and paid him a $3.5 million buyout. In other words, Haren will actually end up being paid more than that $15.5 million option for 2013 because he’ll get the $3.5 million buyout and the $13 million from Washington.

Haren has long been one of MLB’s most underrated pitchers, posting a 3.48 ERA with fantastic strikeout-to-walk ratios from 2005-2011 and topping 200 innings every season. Back and hip problems in 2012 limited him to 177 innings and a 4.33 ERA that’s the worst of his career, but if healthy Haren could be a major bargain and the one-year deal lessens the Nationals’ risk.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has made his intention to sign a veteran starting pitcher clear, which is why some people were surprised that Rizzo declined to make a qualifying offer to departing free agent Edwin Jackson. They would have been in line for a draft pick as compensation if Jackson signed elsewhere and if Jackson chose to accept the qualifying offer the Nationals would have been on the hook for a one-year, $13.5 million deal. Or basically the same contract they ended up giving Haren.

Washington’s rotation is now Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Dan Haren, and Ross Detwiler. On the heels of acquiring Denard Span as the new center fielder/leadoff man Rizzo has had quite a productive past week or so.

Yankees acquire James Paxton from Mariners

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The Yankees announced that the club has acquired starter James Paxton from the Mariners in exchange for three prospects: pitcher Justus Sheffield, outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams, and pitcher Erik Swanson.

Paxton, 30, has been among the game’s better starters over the past few years. In 2018, he went 11-6 with a 3.76 ERA and a 208/42 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. The lefty has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining after earning $4.9 million this past season.

Sheffield, 22, is the headliner in the Mariners’ return. He made his major league debut in September for the Yankees, pitching 2 2/3 innings across three appearances. Two of those appearances were scoreless; in the third, he gave up a three-run home run to J.D. Martinez, certainly not an uncommon result among pitchers. MLB Pipeline rates Sheffield as the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect and No. 31 overall in baseball.

Thompson-Williams, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. This past season, between Single-A Charleston and High-A Tampa, he hit .299/.363/.546 with 22 home runs, 74 RBI, 63 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases in 415 plate appearances. He was not among the Yankees’ top-30 prospects, per MLB Pipeline.

Swanson, 25, was selected by the Yankees in the eighth round of the 2014 draft. He spent most of his 2018 campaign between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Overall, he posted a 2.66 ERA with a 139/29 K/BB ratio in 121 2/3 innings. MLB Pipeline rated him No. 22 in the Yankees’ system.

This trade comes as no surprise as the Yankees clearly wanted to upgrade the starting rotation and the Mariners seemed motivated to trade Paxton this offseason. To the Mariners’ credit, they got a solid return for Paxton, as Sheffield likely becomes the organization’s No. 1 prospect. The only worries about this trade for the Yankees is how Paxton will fare in the more hitter-friendly confines of Yankee Stadium compared to the spacious Safeco Field, and Paxton’s durability. Paxton has made more than 20 starts in a season just twice in his career — the last two years (24 and 28). The Yankees are likely not done adding, however. Expect even more new faces before the start of spring training.