The Los Angeles Angels have three players with contract options at the end of the season: catcher Chris Iannetta and two veteran starters who have experienced very disappointing years:
- RHP Ervin Santana, 29 -- $13 million club option with a $1 million buyout for 2013.
- RHP Dan Haren, 32 -- $15.5 million club option with a $3.5 million buyout for 2013.
It seems a shoo-in that the Iannetta ($5 million option; $250k buyout) will remain in Southern California next year. But with right-hander Garrett Richards putting together a respectable rookie campaign and the possibility of bringing Zack Greinke back to Anaheim, it is likely the Angels will only exercise one of the two pitchers' options. Conveniently, no matter which starter they select, the Halos will foot a $16.5 million bill for one's option and the other's buyout.
While retaining Haren and giving Santana the boot seemed like the simple choice at the beginning of the year, the pair's struggles this season have made the decision much more difficult. Santana is two years Haren's younger but does not have Haren's track record of steady success. Both have a long history of struggling with the long ball -- which neither has abated this year -- but both also eat a lot of innings. Perhaps most importantly, both are very resilient to injury: Haren made his first trip to the disabled list in his career (!) in July with lower back stiffness, and Santana has not been on the DL since 2009.
Likely the biggest question facing the Angels is whether they can trust Haren's back to heal completely for next season. While one's most recent performance is not always indicative of true talent level, both pitchers got off to slow starts and Haren battled back from injury, so let's look at how each has done since the beginning of August (their last eight starts):
- Santana: 52.1 IP, 3.10 ERA, 2.4 BB/9, 7.4 K/9, 1.9 HR/9
- Haren: 43.2 IP, 3.92 ERA, 1.9 BB/9, 6.6 K/9, 1.4 HR/9