Dan Haren and his hip might be mistake that haunts Cubs
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com May 10, 2013 11:46PM
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Dan Haren (15) delivers a pitch against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning of an interleague baseball game, Thursday, May 9, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Updated: June 13, 2013 7:18PM
WASHINGTON — On a Friday night last November, Dan Haren opened a Twitter account for the first time — just in time to see his name popping up all over the place on accounts from the Dominican Republic to Chicago to Southern California.
‘‘I was just learning how to use it,’’ the Washington Nationals pitcher said. ‘‘It was crazy, absolutely crazy.’’
The only thing that seemed certain — mostly because Carlos Marmol seemed certain, via Twitter reports — was that Haren was headed to Chicago in a Cubs-Angels trade for Marmol.
‘‘We were kind of excited, actually,’’ he said.
And then nothing.
The Cubs, who already knew about Haren’s cranky back, saw hip damage on the MRI results provided by the Angels and passed on a trade that otherwise was ready for launch.
But did the Cubs screw up? Did they miss an opportunity to acquire a pitcher they might actually have been able to trade in July for young talent — in exchange for Marmol, a pitcher at least a half-dozen scouts say nobody will want in July even if he looks effective by then?
Cubs officials aren’t saying. The front office doesn’t comment on specifics about trade negotiations, particularly trades they don’t make.
Haren is 4-3 with a 5.17 ERA but is 3-0, 3.15 in his last three starts.
He said he wasn’t told why the trade fell through, but ‘‘if it was because of my hip, it was the same issue that has been there since my Oakland days.’’
He said if the Cubs had access to reports from each of his previous three teams, they would have found references to ‘‘mobility’’ issues in the hip that never caused him pain, he said, and first emerged when he began a stretch of seven straight seasons with more than 215 innings.
He only had an MRI on the hip for the first time last season, he said, because the Angels ordered one for his back and took advantage of the lab visit to get pictures of both.
‘‘Maybe it freaked them out that I got MRI’d last year,’’ he said. ‘‘I had a lot of knocks on me for health issues. But I’ve only missed three or four starts in my whole career.’’
To be fair, Haren had a $15.5 million contract option for 2013 that the Angels were only willing to exercise in order to trade him. They told Haren and the Cubs that much.
The buyout on the option was $3.5 million, and that was all the Angels were willing to pay in total to take Marmol, a guy the Cubs unsuccessfully offered, with cash, to every team in baseball before reluctantly agreeing in principal with the Angels.
Once the deal fell through and the Angels made him a free agent, Haren lasted only a few weeks before Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo — familiar with Haren since scouting him in college — signed him to a one-year, $13 million deal.
Sources say the Nationals had known about the hip for years.
Of the Cubs possibility, Haren said, ‘‘I was under the assumption that I would pitch there four months and get traded again, unless the team really turned it around. They’re more into a rebuilding process, in a really good division, too.
‘‘I guess everything happens for a reason. And it worked out for me coming here.’’