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Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Why didn't the Dodgers pursue Dan Haren?

By Mark Saxon

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Dan Haren would have loved to pitch for the Dodgers. He grew up in West Covina, attended Pepperdine and lives in Irvine. In fact, he lives in the same development as new Dodgers' hitting coach Mark McGwire, so perhaps they could have shared rides to Dodger Stadium and taken some carpool lanes.

Haren reportedly agreed to a one-year, $13 million deal with the Washington Nationals Tuesday. It's a pretty reasonable price tag, considering Haren's 3.33 ERA over five seasons from 2007 to 2011. It also works out well for Haren, since -- combined with the buyout the Angels had to pay him -- he'll walk away with a total of $16.5 million to pitch next season and, if he proves healthy and productive, will hit free agency again in one year.

The Dodgers, who are looking for two starting pitchers, never got heavily involved for Haren, unless they did so at the last minute. The reason likely has to do with questions about Haren's health. One team he was talking to asked him to get a physical before even beginning negotiations, a source said. Haren passed it easily.

The concern has not been over his back, which forced him to spend time on the disabled list last year, but with his hip. Haren has been dealing with on-and-off pain in his hip since 2005 and has had some pretty good seasons in the intervening years.

But for the Dodgers, who already have health concerns with Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly, it would have added yet more uncertainty in spring training as they map out their rotation. Signing a pitcher is always a risky move, but it appears the Dodgers are looking for young, durable pitchers who they can reasonably hope will perform through the vast majority of a long-term contract.

Zack Greinke certainly fits that description. But it's going to cost somebody.