Cheap Seats

Rumor Mill: Dan Haren

I know the Cardinals are loaded for bear with the young arms in their system.

But I wonder if there is any way that the club would have interest in former Redbirds hurler Dan Haren if he fell through the free agent market.

Haren was let go by the Angels after a mediocre season because Anaheim didn't want to pick up his $15 million option. I think it was an odd move for a cash flush team because Haren had a $3 million buy out. It doesn't seem like the Halos are going to find a player with the lanky righty's upside for such a short commitment or for anywhere near the $12 million difference.

That decision may have spooked other teams into thinking that Haren is damaged good. He's averaged 234 innings a year over the past four seasons so, by today's standards, he's pitched quite a lot. According to the rumor mill so far in the off-season, clubs that are interested in Haren are toying with the idea of offering him a one-year deal to prove his health.

If the Birds could get Haren, who was traded in 2005 to Oakland to land Mark Mulder, on a one-year deal it would be tough to pass up. It would be nice to have a short term replacement for Kyle Lohse who is probably going to command a three or four-year deal after a career season. Then the kids could get some experience under their belts before the Cardinals would be forced to rely on them to do the bulk of the heavy lifting. And, if Chris Carpenter has lingering health problems, Haren is the sort of pitcher who could be a number two man in the rotation.

The problem is that the Cardinals could better afford Haren in 2014 instead of 2013. At that point Carlos Beltran's deal will be up and Carpenter might be ready for retirement. The Birds burned up the payroll flexibility they might have used to ink Haren when they signed Jake Westbrook to a contract extension before the 2012 season was over.

Maybe the Redbirds could get creative and sign Haren to a one-year deal with an option that paid him a relatively low base rate in 2014 and a substantial buyout in 2014 if his option isn't picked up. But, as much as I would like to see him back in red, I doubt that's going to happen. Too many teams need pitching for a club not to offer Haren at least a guaranteed two-year deal.