Dan Haren pitched one of his best games of the year on Monday night at Dodger Stadium, and the reward for his efforts was a potential $10 million contract for 2015.
If he decides to pitch, that is.
Haren pitched seven innings, allowing just two runs - only one earned - with the only hit against him a leadoff home run by Gregor Blanco in the first inning. He struck out seven. Haren's seven innings pushed him to 180 innings on the season, and transformed his $10 million club option for 2015 into a player option, meaning the right-hander is guaranteed $10 million if he decides to come back in 2015.
Haren, who turned 34 last Wednesday, has said multiple times this season that even if he reached the 180 innings to trigger his player option that he might choose to retire instead after 12 big league seasons.
The option looked a potential looming problem in the middle of the season, when he put up a 6.04 ERA from May 18 to Aug. 1, allowing 20 home runs in 14 starts. But the right-hander has recovered quite nicely since then with a 2.32 ERA in nine starts to go with 46 strikeouts and just eight walks in 54 innings.
Manager Don Mattingly certainly hasn't managed in any way that would suggest trying to limit Haren's innings, especially with Haren's increased effectiveness of late and numerous injuries to the startng staff. Mattingly was asked about Haren's pending option before Monday's game.
Mattingly on Haren's $10-million option for 2015, likely to vest tonight: "The only reason I know about it is it's kinda been in the paper."— Pedro Moura (@pedromoura) September 22, 2014
Haren's one-year contract with the Dodgers for 2014 included a $10 million base salary, plus up to $3 million in performance bonuses based on games started and innings pitched. Haren has achieved $2 million in bonuses, including $500,000 on Monday for reaching 180 innings. Haren if he starts again against the Rockies over the weekend will earn another $500,000 for making his 32nd start, but will need to last nine innings to hit the final $500,000 bonus of 190 innings.
Haren's season high this season is 7⅓ innings.