Free agent starter Rich Harden was a major topic of discussion in MLB.com's Kelly Thesier's mailbag piece today, where it was confirmed that Minnesota has had interest in acquiring the Canadian right-hander in the past and may look to do so again this winter.
Thesier reports that the Twins put in a claim on Harden last August before the Cubs pulled the pitcher back off of waivers. Minnesota ended up trading for Carl Pavano on August 7 to bolster their pitching staff en route to their successful chase of the AL Central title.
Though Minnesota has a number of young pitchers both in their rotation and their minor league system, Thesier argues this actually gives the Twins more incentive to sign Harden, given that the team feels they have the depth to fill the void should the injury-plagued Harden again find himself on the disabled list. Harden posted a 4.09 ERA and 10.9 K/9 rate with Chicago last season and is very used to pitching to the bigger bats of the American League after spending the first five and a half years of his career in Oakland. It has been speculated that Harden will sign an incentives-laden short-term contract since his injury history will prevent teams from offering longer-term deals, and such a one or two-year contract might appeal to the budget-conscious Twins.
Thesier's mailbag also covers such topics as the possibility of the Twins re-signing Pavano, re-signing Orlando Cabrera to play second or third base, an interest in free agent starter Jarrod Washburn and the status of the dispute between the club and starter Glen Perkins, so it's well worth the read.