Dan Haren wanted to pitch for a World Series contender next season, and he was eager to get back to his native Southern California.
Haren found everything he wanted at Dodger Stadium.
The right-hander agreed to a one-year, $10 million deal with the Dodgers on Monday, adding another veteran arm to Los Angeles’ deep rotation. The deal includes $3 million in performance bonuses and a $10 million vesting option for 2015.
Haren was eager for a change after spending last season in Washington, where he went 10-14 with a 4.67 ERA even with a strong finish to the season. He missed his wife and children during his year on the East Coast, and the 11-year veteran seized the chance to return home after spending the previous three seasons with the Angels.
"My kids are growing up, and to have the opportunity to come back so close to home and pitch for a championship-level club, it couldn’t have happened any better for me," Haren said.
The three-time All-Star went 33-27 with the Angels, enduring a rough final season. He also got off to a slow start with the Nationals, but Haren regained enough of his form to make him attractive on the limited free-agent market.
Haren will compete for a prominent spot in Los Angeles’ loaded rotation alongside Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and injured veterans Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett.
"We were looking for somebody that we could lean on to provide us starts and innings, and obviously had a good track record," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. "He’s also somebody from the area, so he understands the Dodgers and has respect for the organization and everything. … We’re more than willing to take a chance on somebody with his makeup, with his ability, with his experience, and with his track record."
If Haren pitches 180 innings for the Dodgers, he’ll have a $10 million player option for 2015. He had pitched at least 180 innings in nine straight seasons before last year in Washington, where he finished with 169 2-3 innings pitched after a stint on the disabled list.
Haren will get $250,000 each in performance bonuses if he makes 24, 27 and 30 starts, with a $500,000 bonus for 32 starts. He’ll get $250,000 each if he pitches 150, 160 and 170 innings, with a $500,000 bonus for 180 and 190 innings.
If he reaches 180 innings in 2014 and is traded before the season ends, then there is a player option for 2015 at $11 million.
"Could I have gotten more in other places? Maybe, probably," Haren said. "But the Dodgers seemed like a good fit for me, and at this point in my career, it looks like the Dodgers’ priority is winning now, and that’s my priority too."
The 33-year-old has 129 career victories. The Dodgers will be the sixth major league team for Haren, who also pitched for St. Louis, Oakland and Arizona.
Haren knows he’ll be competing with Billingsley and Beckett for a rotation spot, and the Dodgers are eager to see how it develops.
"Josh we expect to be ready when camp opens, and Chad at some point during the season," Colletti said. "I’m not going to close the door to any more starters. We certainly like the four we have, and we hope we get Josh back and we hope we get Chad back."
Haren isn’t sure how the rotation will shake out, but he’s confident he’ll have a spot if he performs to his usual capabilities. He’s also eager to suit up for the NL West champions, who lost to the Cardinals in the league championship series.
"The talent is second to none," Haren said. "We’ve got stars at every position."
Haren pitched alongside Greinke in 2012 with the Angels, and they’ve stayed in regular contact. Greinke welcomed Haren to the Dodgers earlier in the day — and then hit him up for fantasy football advice.
After he realized last winter that he wouldn’t return to the Angels, Haren and his wife kept their home in Irvine, where he lives in the same gated community as Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire.
Haren isn’t suggesting a carpool with Big Mac, but he’s thinking about buying an electric vehicle to ease the pain of a daily commute from Orange County to Dodger Stadium. He also plans to get tips on the drive from utilityman Skip Schumaker, who also lives in the coastal area that’s home to dozens of athletes, including Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant.
"I’ll get used to it," Haren said. "I’ll get satellite radio or something. … Or maybe I could (get a ride on) Kobe’s plane. With his extension today, he could probably afford to give me a few rides."