Rich Harden Rumors
Heath Bell, Jason Kubel, and Carlos Pena were placed on trade waivers today, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal tweeted earlier about Jim Thome being placed, also. The placement on waivers starts a 48 hour period during which teams can put in claims. Hundreds of players are placed on waivers in August, but these four are notable because they do appear to be trade candidates.
Bell, the Padres' closer, sports a 2.60 ERA, 6.6 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 0.35 HR/9, and 42.9% groundball rate in 52 innings this year. That's a big dropoff from his typical strikeout rate. The 33-year-old has $1.5MM left on his contract. He projects as a Type A free agent, but has said he'd accept arbitration if the Padres offer. Owner Jeff Moorad said this month that Bell accepting arbitration would be preferable in some ways, but if the Padres aren't actually interested in a potential eight-figure one-year deal for Bell, they've got two days to move him. Dan Mennella took a look at the fantasy impact of the move at CloserNews.
Kubel, 29, is hitting .295/.350/.456 in 326 plate appearances for the Twins, playing right field and DH. The left-handed hitter has about $1MM plus incentives left on his contract and currently profiles as a Type B free agent in the American League. He earns more than Thome, but not so much that we can rule out a team claiming him mostly for the draft pick.
Pena, 33, is hitting .222/.342/.455 with 23 home runs in 480 plate appearances this year for the Cubs. Though he projects as a Type B, teams might be reluctant to offer arbitration given his salary. He's owed about $1MM for the rest of the year, and the Cubs will be on the hook for a deferred $5MM in January even if they trade him.
Two players who will not be traded this month: Oakland's Rich Harden and Coco Crisp, who were claimed on waivers but pulled back according to this report yesterday from Rosenthal. Today, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Indians won the claim on Harden, but could not work out a deal.
Todd Helton celebrated his 38th birthday with a 3-for-6 performance (that included a homer) against the Dodgers today. Best of all for Helton, the Rockies picked up a 7-6 win in a 13-inning affair against their NL West rivals.
Some news from around the majors....
- "There is a strong belief" that the Blue Jays have discussed a contract extension with general manager Alex Anthopoulos, writes Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star. The catch is, the terms of Anthopoulos' original deal in 2009 were never made public, so the end date of the GM's current contract is unknown to all but himself and the club. Anthopoulos' quotes to Griffin would seem to indicate that he is staying in Toronto for years to come.
- The Marlins have denied several requests from teams to interview GM Michael Hill and VP of player personnel Dan Jennings for open front office positions over the last few years, reports Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Rodriguez feels the two men have earned the right to run their own team since Larry Beinfest calls the shots in Florida, though in Hill's case, he would have to be offered a president position to leave since he's already a general manager.
- If Rich Harden is traded this month or just reaches the end of his one-year contract, he's still a candidate to return to the Athletics in the offseason, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Harden has family in the Bay Area, enjoys pitching in Oakland and has "a great relationship with pitching coach Ron Romanick."
- Slusser also notes that the A's were looking for a first baseman for Harden at the deadline (like Lars Anderson from Boston), but since they've acquired Brandon Allen in the interim, the A's could ask for an outfielder or third baseman in a potential Harden trade package.
- Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle looks at how Brian Bogusevic went from a failing minor league pitcher to a productive member of the Astros' outfield.
- "It's important to have talented players in uniform in Pittsburgh," Pirates owner Robert Nutting told Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "That's exactly what we're trying to do, whether it's through a long-term assurance in a contract or whether it's bringing in great talent (through the draft)." The Bucs have had an expensive week, spending $17MM on draft picks, signing Jose Tabata to a contract extension and closing in on another multiyear deal with Neil Walker.
- The Rockies have dealt some notable right-handed prospects in recent years, but as Rich M of Inside The Rockies details, the club hasn't lost any significant arms.
- Scott Van Slyke's impressive minor league campaign should earn him a chance at the Dodgers' first base job in Spring Training, argues Jon Weisman of ESPN Los Angeles. Van Slyke, 25, has a .343/.424/.576 line in 474 plate appearances for Double-A Chattanooga this season. Incumbent first baseman James Loney is expected to be non-tendered by L.A. this winter.
- Ryan Madson's meltdown against the Nationals on Friday night is a sign that the Phillies need to stop using him on three consecutive days, opines Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. You can catch up on all the latest info about the Phillies' bullpen and every other late-game situation in baseball on MLBTR's sister site, Closer News.
Rich Harden has been drawing interest from several contenders, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Yankees were just one of the teams on hand to witness his dazzling start last night. Harden held a potent Blue Jays offense scoreless through seven innings while punching out 11 batters and allowing just two hits and four walks.
All told, he's got a 3.91 ERA (3.73 xFIP) and a robust 10.2 K/9 in 53 innings this season. His heater, averaging 91.6mph, is down from his first stint in Oakland but up from the 90.5mph he averaged with the Rangers in 2010. He's still walking too many (4.1 BB/9) and a bit homer prone (1.36 HR/9), but Harden looks better than he has since late 2009 with the Cubs.
According to Slusser, the Yankees have watched Harden's last two starts, and several other contenders have been scouting him longer than that. New York seems a logical destination with the uncertainty in their rotation behind anchor C.C. Sabathia. Freddy Garcia just hit the disabled list (albeit with a minor injury), A.J. Burnett remains a mystery, Bartolo Colon has floundered in recent weeks, and Phil Hughes has been effective but his strikeouts have disappeared. A healthy Harden would give the Yankees another swing-and-miss arm to potentially overpower a lineup in a short postseason series.
The Red Sox nearly acquired Harden at the deadline for prospect Lars Anderson and a player to be named later, but Harden's medical records caused Boston to remove the PTBNL and the deal was dissolved. Since then, Harden has a 3.42 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings of work. Boston acquired Erik Bedard as an alternative, but given that their rotation currently includes Tim Wakefield and a struggling John Lackey, Harden could still be an attractive option for GM Theo Epstein.
As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes pointed out when Harden hit waivers earlier this week, any team that acquires the right-hander would only be on the hook for about $360K plus his performance incentives, so he's a very affordable, potentially impact addition to a contender looking to solidify its rotation. Speculating here, but the Tigers, Indians, and Diamondbacks are other logical landing places for Harden (in the unlikely event that he managed to clear waivers or fell all the way to Arizona, of course).
Harden is currently an unranked free agent with no shot of achieving Type B status, so it makes sense for the A's to try to get something for him while they have the chance. As Slusser points out, it would be an interesting scenario to see Harden pitching against the Red Sox, the team that almost acquired him, in a Yankees uniform down the stretch and potentially in the playoffs.
A trio of Athletics were placed on waivers recently, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports: starter Rich Harden, center fielder Coco Crisp, and lefty reliever Craig Breslow. Placing the three on waivers does not necessarily mean the A's want to trade them. But if they were placed this afternoon then the clock is now ticking to make a claim, with the window closing after 48 hours.
The Red Sox pulled out of a trade deadline deal for Harden over physical concerns, but the 29-year-old righty continues to take his turn in the rotation for the A's. His big-time strikeout rate is back in an eight start sample, though Harden remains prone to free passes and home runs. Owed just $360K plus performance bonuses, claiming Harden would not be terribly risky despite his extensive injury history.
Crisp, 31, is hitting .274/.329/.392 in 441 plate appearances this season, already his highest total since '07. He leads the American League with 37 steals and his defense is typically well-regarded. He has a shot at Type B status, so the A's probably won't let him go for nothing. Crisp has about $1.39MM remaining on his contract.
Breslow is under team control through 2013, assuming he's tendered contracts for the next two seasons. The brainy 31-year-old has been hittable this year, especially against left-handed hitters.
Heading into 2011, with Jonathan Papelbon coming off his worst season and in a contract year, it seemed to be just a matter of time until Daniel Bard took over as the Red Sox closer. As the offseason approaches though, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that it will be very difficult for the Sox to lose Papelbon. While they could replace him with Bard, they'd then have to find a reliever capable of filling Bard's eighth inning role. One National League executive said he thinks the Sox should bring Papelbon back: "If the resources were there to have both of those guys at the end of the game, and I believe they are, then there’s no way you break that up." Here are the rest of today's Red Sox updates:
- Within Cafardo's piece, an NL GM wondered what sort of deal Papelbon could land on the open market this winter: "Is the market that teams are willing to spend on a closer more in the $8MM to $10MM range now? It depends, I guess, on how desperate you are. It takes one team."
- Cafardo says the Red Sox could still consider Rich Harden as an August trade target, if he makes it to them on waivers. Boston nearly worked out a trade for the right-hander in July, but it fell through due to medical concerns. It's worth remembering, however, that the Sox didn't nix the deal entirely - they still tried to acquire Harden at a reduced cost.
- Boston put "just about everyone" through waivers this week, according to Cafardo.
- David Ortiz told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that the Red Sox should make it a priority to lock up Jacoby Ellsbury to a long-term deal. Rosenthal rightly pointed out that Ellsbury's agent, Scott Boras, typically likes to see his clients hit free agency, making an extension less likely.
Red Sox GM Theo Epstein acquired Mike Aviles, Erik Bedard and Josh Fields in trades this weekend. He joined reporters on a conference call to discuss those moves and other issues pertaining to his first-place team this evening. Here are the details:
- The Red Sox like the way Bedard's stuff looks this year. He "really started to look like one of the best left-handers in the league again," Epstein said.
- Though Bedard was rusty in his lone start since returning from the disabled list, the Red Sox maintained interest in him since he seems healthy and has pitched in the AL East. Plus, he met Boston's biggest need - rotation help.
- The Bedard deal came together at the last minute, since the Red Sox had to acquire Trayvon Robinson from the Dodgers before completing the deal with the Mariners.
- As for the bullpen, Epstein says the Red Sox can get by without adding outside help. "We feel we have some depth, not only in the big leagues, but in Triple-A," he said.
- Epstein declined to speak about discussions for Rich Harden, but says he has no hard feelings. It appeared last night that Boston was going to acquire Harden.
- The Red Sox like Fields' "big arm" despite his command issues.
- Though Epstein didn't discuss Clay Buchholz's injury in detail, he acknowledged concern over the right-hander's health.
10:58am: The Red Sox tried to remove the player to be named later from the deal and just send Anderson after looking at Harden's medicals, and were rebuffed by the A's, tweets Sean McAdam.
SUNDAY, 1:05am: Uncertainty after a review of Harden's medicals led to the deal coming apart, tweets Speier.
12:36am: A major league source says that the BoSox are not counting on the deal getting done, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
SATURDAY, 11:47pm: A's GM Billy Beane told Harden he's still scheduled to pitch for the A's Tuesday, according to Slusser (on Twitter).
8:20pm: It looks as though the Red Sox are closing in on a deal for Rich Harden, according to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark on Twitter. ESPN's Buster Olney reported on the deal earlier today and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported tonight that there was a "strong chance" of a deal.
Harden, 29, has a 4.30 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 29 1/3 innings for the A's this year. The British Columbia native was on the disabled list until the beginning of July. He earns a $1.5MM base salary this year.
8:15pm: The Red Sox are out on Willingham and still trying on Harden, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter).
3:18pm: The Red Sox checked in with the A's on old friend Coco Crisp, tweets ESPN's Gordon Edes. He says the price is high for a player who may not bring draft pick compensation. Crisp does have a shot at Type B status though.
11:11am: The Red Sox talked to the Athletics about a possible trade for starter Rich Harden and outfielder Josh Willingham, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney, but it's unclear whether the deal currently has a pulse. The rumor mill has been quiet on Harden and Willingham, though they'd both be solid pickups for a contender.
The latest on the Red Sox...
- The Mariners are offering Jason Vargas to the Red Sox, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, who hears that the Red Sox are all over the map in trade discussions. Don’t expect Derek Lowe to return to Boston and don’t expect Carlos Zambrano to become a trade target, but Aaron Harang and Jeremy Guthrie are possibilities for GM Theo Epstein.
- The Red Sox and Yankees scouted Rich Harden in Oakland today, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
- A source familiar with Clay Buchholz's back injury tells WEEI's Alex Speier the Red Sox are "'very concerned' that the issue is not muscular, but instead could involve a structural issue such as a bone." Speier says the Sox are "monitoring the starting pitcher market broadly," because of Buchholz as well as concern with current members of the rotation.
- The Red Sox are "all over" Mariners lefty Erik Bedard, report Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, and they'll be among the many teams scouting him against the Rays tomorrow night. They note that the Mariners had two scouts watching Boston's Double-A club on Wednesday and one watching their Triple-A affiliate.
- Though the Sox continue to look for starting pitchers, CBS Sports' Danny Knobler tweets that they're telling teams the focus is now a right-handed hitting outfielder. He notes that they would "almost certainly" try for White Sox right fielder Carlos Quentin, if Chicago makes him available.
The latest on the Red Sox, who have the best record in the American League...
- The Red Sox are “still looking at all options,” including outfielders, but their focus may be shifting to pitching, according to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.
- Lauber hears that the Red Sox didn’t actively pursue Colby Rasmus.
- The Red Sox will consider Rich Harden, Erik Bedard, Hiroki Kuroda, Jeremy Guthrie, Aaron Harang, and Ubaldo Jimenez as they decide whether to add a starting pitcher, reports Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. ESPN's Jayson Stark names Kuroda, Bedard, Harden, and Jimenez as pitchers on their radar. He notes that the Red Sox have "stayed involved from the beginning" on Jimenez.
- The Red Sox wouldn't give up anything really good for Kuroda, opined MLB Network's Peter Gammons on WEEI's Mut & Merloni show.
- Gammons believes the Cubs' Reed Johnson is the most logical fit for an outfielder for Boston.