So, the Nationals have signed Dan Haren.
Signing Haren, though not as”glamorous” as a James Shields, certainly solidifies Washington’s starting rotation. But on top of that, it may effect the future of other Nationals players as well.
First and foremost, it influences the future of Michael Morse. Morse’s name has appeared in the trade rumors more than anyone else on the roster, and management has been said to be seeking an “impactful” starting pitcher in return. However, the Nationals now have Haren, which, added to Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Ross Detwiler, is a pretty powerful rotation. It appears that the only way Morse will be traded now is in a deal for a more defensively-solid first baseman or a “bullpen ace.” The later seems more likely considering the lack of talented first basemen on the trade market, though, with the likes of Rafael Soriano, Brian Wilson, etc. on the free agent market and Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard already on board, it’s hard for me to see Rizzo being that enthusiastic about adding yet another arm.
If the Nats were still insistent on getting LaRoche back, they’d have to move Morse. If they decide they can’t get enough value back from other teams in the form of bullpen arms, they could in theory still ask for a starting pitcher. So in theory, this could effect Detwiler. If the Nationals just signed Haren, they can’t trade him until June so Detwiler seems like the only candidate that could be replaced. Though he certainly proved that he could hold his own last season, if Rizzo had the opportunity to grab someone like a Shields in a deal for him and Morse, it’d be hard to envision him turning that down if LaRoche comes back. So in theory, Detwiler’s future with the team is slightly in question.
The third player that is largely effected by this is LaRoche himself. Haren’s contract is for $13-million, and though the Nationals took $5-million off the books through their Lannan signing and could, in theory, shed more by trading Morse, $13-million is still a hefty salary to add to the budget. Will the Nats ante up to keep their man? We’ll have to wait and see.