06 March 2013

Harang Wouldn't Be an Upgrade

The Dodgers traded the Orioles a pitcher they didn't want last offseason (Dana Eveland), so don't be surprised if it happens again. Scouts from the Orioles (and Brewers) watched Aaron Harang pitch in a minor league game on Monday, meaning they have at least some interest in acquiring the 34-year-old.

While it wouldn't take much to trade for Harang -- primarily because he'll make $7 million in 2013 and has a mutual option between $7-$8 million in 2014 (with a $2 million buyout) -- Dan Duquette and the O's still shouldn't want him. As Jon has noted before, the problem with the O's starting pitching options is not quantity -- it's quality. The Orioles have more than a dozen options for the starting rotation, and that's not even including recent pickups T.J. McFarland and Todd Redmond.

Since his two best seasons with the Reds in 2006 and 2007, Harang has not been the same pitcher. In those seasons, he struck out nearly 8.5 batters per 9 innings while walking about 2. He was also worth more than 5 fWAR in each season. In the years since, his strikeouts have decreased and he's walked more batters. Despite a 3.61 ERA last season in 179.2 innings, his K/9 was just 6.56 while posting a BB/9 of 4.26 -- the highest of his career since his rookie season. But two things worked in Harang's favor: 1) He had a BABIP of just .277 (his career average is around .300 at .305); and 2) he managed a HR/FB ratio of only 6.3% (his career average is 10.3%). But those two things aren't likely to continue, and Camden Yards hasn't always been kind to flyball pitchers with declining skills.

As a fifth starter type, the Orioles could probably do worse than Harang. In theory, Harang would be a better option as an innings-eater than some (but not all) of the younger starting options. Despite not posting great numbers and getting somewhat lucky, he still pitched at least 170 innings in each of the last two seasons. But that's if he wasn't due a bunch of money in 2013 and some in 2014. In a potential deal, the Dodgers would have to pick up at least a portion of the rest of Harang's contract, but they wouldn't be paying for all of it, or even necessarily a majority of it. The O's really shouldn't be paying an OK starting pitching option that kind of money when they already have so many other choices on the roster. And they definitely shouldn't be giving up anything of value to acquire him.

As usual, it's probably more likely that Duquette is simply covering all his bases. And while Harang is a better option than Eveland was, hopefully Duquette learned something from that trade.


Unknown said...

In fairness, the Orioles didn't give up anything of value to get Dana Eveland.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

They still gave up something for someone who may have been released anyway. It looks fine now but was at least somewhat questionable at the time.

Matt Kremnitzer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.