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Rich Harden Rumors
Rich Harden will miss the 2012 season while he recovers from a shoulder operation, Peter Gammons of MLB Network reports on Twitter. Dr. James Andrews repaired a torn capsule in Harden's shoulder last week and the free agent right-hander aims to come back healthy in 2013.
Harden started 15 games for the 2011 Athletics, but he's no stranger to serious injuries, having spent much of the 2006 and 2007 seasons on the disabled list. The 30-year-old posted a 5.12 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 82 2/3 innings for the A's in 2011. He drew interest as a starter and as a reliever this offseason from teams such as the Rockies.
- Free agent right-hander Rich Harden is drawing interest from teams that would use him either as a starter or a reliever, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Harden posted 9.9 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 82 2/3 innings as a starter for the Athletics in 2011.
- The Twins continue eyeing affordable right-handed relievers and have been in touch with the agent for Dan Wheeler, according to Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com. Wheeler, who has also drawn some interest from the Pirates, sits below a couple of pitchers on the Twins’ list.
- The Pirates have had discussions with free agent left-hander Paul Maholm, but it remains highly unlikely that he'll return to Pittsburgh, according to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- The Mat Latos trade improved a Padres farm system that already ranked among the game’s best, Jim Callis of Baseball America wrote in this week’s edition of Ask BA.
- One MLB executive suggested to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that the Cubs and Blue Jays may prefer to pass on Prince Fielder, since Joey Votto projects to hit free agency two years from now when both Chicago and Toronto could have stronger teams (Twitter link).
- Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com provides contract details for Mets relievers Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco, who both agreed to terms during the Winter Meetings.
Millwood, 37 in December, finished the season with Colorado, making nine starts with a 3.98 ERA. The Scott Boras client seeks a Major League deal, which Renck says makes this a "slow-developing situation." Renck notes that the Rockies were among the finalists to sign Harden last year, though they viewed him as a reliever.
As for their second base opening, the Rockies have had internal conversations about free agent Aaron Hill, according to ESPN's Buster Olney. Hill is also of interest to the Tigers, writes Lynn Henning of the Detroit News. The Rockies also have interest in Jamey Carroll, Mark Ellis, and others, reported Renck previously.
For more on the Rockies' needs and finances, check out my offseason outlook.
Links for Sunday evening as the Brewers have jumped out to a 1-0 lead over the Cardinals in the NLCS..
- The Reds need to ask themselves if they believe that they can pay Joey Votto a market-value contract after 2013, writes Buster Olney of ESPN.com. If the Reds don't believe that they can pay him, Olney writes that history says that they should move him between now and July 31, 2012.
- The Red Sox could use Lars Anderson as a trade chip this offseason, writes Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal. The 24-year-old first baseman is stuck behind Adrian Gonzalez and MacPherson identifies several teams who would be interested in the youngster. Anderson was nearly shipped to the Athletics in a deal for Rich Harden in July.
- Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times doesn't expect to see the Dodgers make many changes this winter. If Ned Colletti & Co. don't sign a bopper in free agency, that leaves trading for a big bat and the club doesn't have much to offer in return.
- Tigers closer Jose Valverde represents yet another ex-Astros player achieving success elsewhere, writes Stephen Goff of Examiner.com.
- Brewers right-hander Shaun Marcum sees a bright future for his former teammate, Cardinals lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski. Marcum, who will start Game 2 of the NLCS on Monday, played with Rzepczynski in Toronto.
The Athletics currently project for the ninth pick in next year's draft, though that could change by the end of Wednesday. The latest A's info, courtesy of Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle:
- Coco Crisp's agent Steve Comte agreed with Matt Sosnick's comments about the Athletics' offseason spending hinging on MLB's decision on the team's new stadium. Comte hasn't spoken to A's GM Billy Beane recently, but noted the long-term impact of the stadium issue was apparent back in Spring Training. Nonetheless, Crisp and his agent will keep an open mind and "see what the market brings." Crisp, 31, has a .267/.317/.384 line in 575 plate appearances, with 48 steals in 57 tries. It's been Crisp's healthiest year since '07, but he's posted his worst walk rate since '06. UZR suggests his defense was slightly below-average this year, but Crisp's ability to simply play a passable center field regularly makes him valuable. Given the state of the free agent market at the position, I think a two-year deal is probable. Slusser's sources expect the Giants to be interested.
- Signing Brandon McCarthy for a $1MM base salary was one of the best moves of the offseason, and the 28-year-old righty considers his season a successful comeback. For less than $2MM in total, he's provided a 3.32 ERA, 6.5 K/9, 1.3 BB/9, 0.58 HR/9, and 46.7% groundball rate in 170 2/3 innings. His ERA ranks 13th in the American League and his five complete games tie him for second. The cherry on top: McCarthy is arbitration eligible for 2012 and should be affordable again.
- Slusser talked to A's outfielder David DeJesus, who said, "This year wasn't me. I want to break things down and understand what went wrong." DeJesus, 31, slipped to .237/.321/.374 in 502 plate appearances and may have been affected by losing his status as an everyday player. Slusser expects the Padres to be in the mix for the bounceback candidate, who will become a free agent shortly.
- Righty Rich Harden said he'd "definitely be open" to returning to the A's in 2012. The 29-year-old made all his starts since his July 1st season debut, posting a 5.12 ERA, 9.9 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 1.85 HR/9, and 31.5% groundball rate in 82 2/3 innings.
- Hideki Matsui is not really proud of his numbers this year, the designated hitter told Joe Stiglich of the San Jose Mercury News through a translator. Matsui, 37, hit .251/.321/.376 in 576 plate appearances.
- In our latest Elias Rankings projections, Crisp, Harden, and Matsui projected for neither Type A nor B status, while DeJesus projected for Type B.
Here are some notes from both divisions out west…
- Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda shrugged off speculation from the Japanese media that he'll return to Japan to pitch a farewell season with Hiroshima in 2012, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Kuroda put the odds of him pitching in MLB or going home next season at 50-50.
- Expect lots of teams to talk with the agent of Giants reliever Javier Lopez, writes ESPN.com's Buster Olney. The 34-year-old has postseason experience and teams such as the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Brewers, and Cardinals have been after a good matchup lefty this year.
- Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez expect to be ready for opening day but manager Bruce Bochy and GM Brian Sabean already have discussed the importance of covering themselves with other options at the position, writes Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News.
- Rich Harden would like to return to the Athletics and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle says that’s something that could happen. The injury-prone veteran would likely sign for an inexpensive one-year deal.
- With his strong work down the stretch, Jerome Williams has become the leading in-house candidate to assume one of the spots behind Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana in the Angels' 2012 rotation, writes Lyle Spencer of MLB.com.
The odds say the Red Sox have a 94.5% chance of making the playoffs, but I'm guessing that's not going to console most Red Sox fans. Boston leads Tampa Bay by three games in the Wild Card race, but that gap might have been wider by now if they had made different moves at the trade deadline. Alex Speier of WEEI.com has the details on the deadline deals that didn't happen…
- When the Red Sox made cursory inquiries about Doug Fister, it became clear that the Mariners were aiming high and looking for a right-handed bat. Since joining the Tigers, Fister has a 2.28 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 0.9 BB/9 in 51 1/3 impressive innings.
- The Red Sox were set to acquire Rich Harden from the A’s, but once they looked at his medical records, they were no longer willing to include both Lars Anderson and a player to be named. The PTBNL would have come from a list of high-upside players in the lower minors.
- Raul Alcantara, an 18-year-old Dominican who signed for $500K in 2009 and Brandon Workman, a second round pick in last year’s draft, would have been on the list.
- The Red Sox also kicked around the idea of acquiring Harden’s former teammate, Brad Ziegler, who ended up going to Arizona.
- The Padres weren’t thrilled with Boston’s prospects, so Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein never came close to completing deals for Mike Adams or other Padres relievers.
- The Orioles and Red Sox never exchanged names regarding a possible Koji Uehara deal.
Though the A’s aren’t going to discuss possible deals with their free agents until the season ends, Susan Slusser previews the club’s decisions at the San Francisco Chronicle:
- Josh Willingham has said that he'd like to return to Oakland, according to Slusser. The 32-year-old, who established career highs in homers and RBI this year, projects as a Type A free agent in our latest rankings.
- Michael Wuertz told Slusser that he has recovered completely from the thumb injury that sidelined him in August. The A's have a $3.25MM option ($250K buyout) for Wuertz in 2012 and MLBTR's Tim Dierkes gets the sense that they'll decline it.
- Harden likes pitching in Oakland under pitching coach Ron Romanick so he could re-sign there this offseason if he’s healthy and the A’s are interested. Harden doesn't project as a ranked free agent, so compensatory draft picks won't be a consideration.
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney explains that MLB remains desperate for a solution to Oakland's stadium issues, more than two years after establishing a committee to study the situation.
In the 2009-10 offseason, the Athletics guaranteed $12MM to injury-risk starting pitchers Ben Sheets and Justin Duchscherer. For 2010-11, the A's made their major commitments to relievers Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour, but also picked up starters Rich Harden and Brandon McCarthy for a total of $2.5MM. So far in 2011, the two righty starters have combined for a tidy 3.76 ERA in 206 innings.
Less than a third of those innings have come from Harden, who developed a lat injury in February and didn't make his season debut until July 1st. Since then Harden has made all of his scheduled starts, 11 of them heading into today's action. He seemed headed to Boston on July 30th, but the Red Sox saw something they didn't like in his medical files and killed the trade. Whatever they saw hasn't been an issue yet, as Harden made six starts in August and struck out 42. During that time the Indians won a claim on Harden, but he again stayed put.
After a terrible 2010 with the Rangers, Harden appears to have returned to the formula that worked relatively well for him in '08 and '09: a huge strikeout rate, limited hits, lots of walks, and a lot of home runs allowed. Though this approach has led to only a 4.55 ERA in 63 1/3 innings, Harden's 3.39 SIERA ranks fifth among impending free agent starting pitchers with at least 60 innings – just behind Bartolo Colon, C.J. Wilson, and Erik Bedard – though the innings cutoff was designed to include him. Harden's 10.2 K/9 is easily tops among free agent starters, and ranks third in baseball overall.
In 2008-09, Harden showed the ability to provide about 150 innings per season. However, after '10 and '11, teams might have to lower their expectation to 100 innings. Harden seems likely to continue signing one-year deals for the duration of his career, unless he takes off as a reliever at some point. His last two free agent contracts guaranteed $7.5MM and $1.5MM, and I think we can split the difference and expect a guarantee in the $4.5MM range for 2012. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle has reported that Harden would be happy to return to the A's next year, so perhaps they'll get a bit of a discount.
A couple notes regarding the Red Sox and Indians, who both won on Saturday night (in Boston's case, twice) …
- The Red Sox wanted to trade for both Erik Bedard and Rich Harden once their attempt to acquire Hiroki Kuroda from the Dodgers fell through, tweets Peter Gammons. Bedard, of course, ended up in Boston, while the acquisition of Harden was nixed by Red Sox medical staff.
- It's unclear whether the Indians were the team that placed a waiver claim on the Rays' B.J. Upton, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, but it'd make sense for the Tribe to do so. Outfielders Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo are banged up, and the Indians were one of the teams interested in Upton prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, according to Hoynes.
- Lost in the shuffle of Jim Thome's first homer since rejoining the Indians was the Major League debut of reliever Nick Hagadone, writes Hoynes. Hagadone, a lefty, was acquired along with Justin Masterson in the deal that sent Victor Martinez to Boston in 2009. That doesn't look like such a bad swap in retrospect, especially if Hagadone turns out to be a solid member of the Tribe's bullpen.