The fact that Dan Haren still has not been traded seems to indicate he will, in fact, retire prior to Spring Training. It’s well known at this point that the veteran has no plans to pitch for the Marlins and wants to be dealt to one of the west coast clubs, specifically one in or near southern California. Haren has pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, among other teams, in recent years, but it seems like neither team wants him back. The Dodgers traded him to the Marlins last month, so that destination is out of the question.
One team that hasn’t really been mentioned is the Seattle Mariners. It’s not sunny California, but Safeco Field is at least on the same coast that Haren so badly wants to return to. Haren has apparently said he wants to pitch for a team that has Spring Training in Arizona rather than Florida; that’s a vague statement but it would cover any of the West division teams in either league, except the Houston Astros.
On Monday, our friends at Sodo Mojo proposed a “why not?” case for Haren to join the Mariners in 2015. The Mariners rotation contains a few question marks; virtually everyone not named Felix Hernandez and maybe Hisashi Iwakuma could be an uncertainty next season. That rotation includes top prospects James Paxton and Taijuan Walker, who both have experience in the big leagues but are very young and somewhat unproven. They also have J.A. Happ, Roenis Elias and Erasmo Ramirez vying for a spot on the staff, and could use an established work horse like Haren for some insurance.
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Haren isn’t an ace anymore; he’s more of a back of the rotation innings eater at this point of his career. He also hasn’t posted a positive-WAR season since 2011 with the Angels, so he wouldn’t net much of a haul in a trade.
The Marlins are looking for a fourth outfielder, and the Mariners might have some options. The team acquired Justin Ruggiano from the Chicago Cubs this off-season. How great would a Ruggiano reunion in Miami be? He was one of the lone bright spots on the abysmal 2012 and 2013 Marlins clubs, and would be a great outfield reserve on a team that might be ready to compete this year.
A much less realistic name coming from the Mariners is Seth Smith, who was recently acquired in a trade with the San Diego Padres. Smith is likely slotted as Seattle’s starting right fielder going into Spring Training. The 32 year-old owns a .800 career OPS, but has only reached 500 plate appearances in two of his seven MLB seasons. Smith hits left handed and could be used to spell Marcell Ozuna when he needs a day off, but he also hasn’t played much center field in his career. So acquiring Seth Smith is probably a pipe dream for the Marlins.
The Marlins don’t necessarily need to use Haren to get their fourth outfielder. They have reportedly talked to Ichiro Suzuki and Nate Schierholtz recently and could still find their outfield depth on the free agent market.
Dan Haren ending up in Seattle is a stretch, but he obviously has no place on the Marlins roster. The Marlins win whether Haren retires or reports to Jupiter next month, so we’ll see where he ends up in the coming weeks.