Discussion: Rich Harden

Rich Harden carries a lot of upside for a Type B free agent.  His well-documented injury history will prevent any club from risking offering the right-hander a long-term contract, but a one or two-year deal (perhaps with the second year as a club option, that could become guaranteed if Harden reaches certain performance levels) in the high seven-figure range per season could prove to be a relative bargain.  Harden might be amenable to such a deal since it would allow him to cash in on an even bigger contract after the 2011 season when he's just 29 years old.

Harden only pitched past the sixth inning in five of his 26 starts last season as the Cubs wanted to keep him as fresh as possible.  The Canadian was skipped for two September starts and spent a month on the disabled list with a strained back, but given the major arm problems that have plagued his career, this actually counts as a fairly healthy showing for the right-hander.  Harden recorded an impressive 10.9 K/9 last season, and posted a 2.07 ERA in 25 starts with Chicago and Oakland in 2008.

The Cubs aren't likely to try and re-sign Harden themselves, thus leaving the door open for suitors who are willing to take the risk — and, probably more importantly, also have the financial resources to absorb the loss should Harden not pan out.  The Red Sox fit this description to a tee, and unlike last winter's similar buy-low signings of Brad Penny or John Smoltz, Harden has experience pitching in the American League.

What teams do you think will make a play for Harden, and, if your favorite team was the one making the offer, what would be the sort of contract and dollar figure you'd be comfortable seeing Harden in the fold for?

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