Cubs starter Rich Harden has piled up 152 strikeouts in 129 innings this year, and doesn't turn 28 until November 30th. With a strong, healthy September, the oft-injured righty could be a hot commodity on the free agent market after the season. Will the Cubs attempt to re-sign him? Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times couldn't get much out of GM Jim Hendry, who has to sort through Harden's health outlook and contract demands, as well as his team's ownership situation. Wittenmyer says Hendry "seems interested in the idea" of bringing Harden back, and the pitcher would like to stay.
At the least, it'd make sense for the Cubs to offer arbitration to Harden after the season. He currently projects as a Type A free agent, meaning the Cubs would snag two draft picks if he rejects an arb offer to sign elsewhere. Arb offers are not always obvious to predict, however – I was surprised last year when GMs chose not to make offers to players such as Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell, Adam Dunn, Randy Wolf, and Kerry Wood (several of those decisions showed excellent foresight).
As for the Twins' recent waiver claim of Harden, Hendry called it a non-story. A dozen Cubs were claimed on waivers and pulled back, Aaron Heilman also among them. What's surprising to me is that no NL team thought Harden merited a claim.