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Dodgers Finalize Two-Year Contract With Aaron Harang

Future teammates, facing off in 2011.
Future teammates, facing off in 2011.

The Dodgers on Wednesday officially signed starting pitcher Aaron Harang to a two-year contract, plus a vesting option in 2014. The deal is worth $12 million over two years, and Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times has the breakdown:

2012: $3 million
2013: $7 million
2014: $7-8 million vesting option, or $2 million buyout

Per Hernandez, the 2014 option breaks down like so:

$8 million if Harang pitches 400 innings combined in 2012-2013
$7.5 million if Harang pitches 380 innings in 2012-2013, including 180 innings in 2013
$7 million if Harang pitches 360 innings in 2012-2013, including 175 innings in 2013

The San Diego native - he went to Patrick Henry High School, the same school as Eric Karros, then to San Diego State - was 14-7 with a 3.64 ERA in 28 starts in his one season with the Padres in 2011. He had a mutual option for 2012 worth $5 million, but the Padres declined it and paid Harang a $500,000 buyout instead.

2011 Ground Ball Rates
Pitcher GB% FB% GB/FB
Chad Billingsley 45.3% 33.8% 1.34
Clayton Kershaw 43.2% 38.6% 1.12
Chris Capuano 42.7% 40.4% 1.06
Aaron Harang 40.6% 41.0% 0.99
Ted Lilly 33.6% 46.5% 0.72
Source: FanGraphs

While in Cincinnati, Harang piled up the good guy awards, as he was the Reds' nominee for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award from 2007-2009, the Roberto Clemente Award in 2007 and 2009, and the Branch Rickey Award in 2007. He also piled up the losses as he was 18-38 in his final three seasons in Cincinnati.

Harang has managed to increase his ground ball rate over the last four seasons - from 34.1% to 34.9% to 36.8% to 40.6% in 2011 - pulling him almost even with his fly balls.

He led the National League in wins (16), games started (35), complete games (six), strikeouts (216), and batters faced (993) in 2006, and parlayed that into a four-year, $36.5 million contract that covered his final two arbitration years and bought out his first two free agent seasons. In 2006 and 2007 with the Reds, he made a C.J. Wilson - esque 69 starts and pitched 466 innings. After striking out 434 batters during that two-year run, his strikeout rate has declined - from 8.38 per nine innings in 2006-2007 to 7.66 per nine in 2008-2009, to 6.57 per nine over the last two seasons.

Since his peak in 2006-2007, Harang has spent time on the disabled list in each of the past four seasons:

  • 2008: missed four weeks with a strained right forearm
  • 2009: missed the final six weeks of the season after an emergency appendectomy
  • 2010: missed two months with a back injury
  • 2011: missed four weeks with a right foot contusion

The Dodgers made room on the 40-man roster earlier Thursday with the trade of Dana Eveland to the Orioles.

With the signings of Harang and Capuano - or "Capang" as dubbed by Silverwidow yesterday in the comments - this offseason, the Dodgers have five starting pitchers signed through at least 2013. The Dodgers also have a projected payroll of roughly $106 million for 2013 and that's without a right fielder or first baseman. That number includes a staggering $47.25 million for just Harang, Capuano, Lilly, Matt Guerrier, Juan Uribe, Jerry Hairston Jr., and Mark Ellis.