Red Sox acquire Rich Harden

Red Sox acquire Rich Harden
July 31, 2011, 4:42 am
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By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
CHICAGO -- By early evening, the dominoes were beginning to fall.

Erik Bedard failed his audtion Friday night at Safeco Field. Hiroki Kuroda told the Los Angeles Dodgers that, no, he wouldn't waive his no-trade clause.

And the Colorado Rockies, who had been attempting to play three teams -- the Red Sox, Yankees and Cleveland Indians -- off one another, finally got what they wanted from the Indians.

Time -- and options -- were running out for the Red Sox. So, in a bit of irony, the Sox, whose pitching depth has been thinned by injuries, have a trade in place that will net them Rich Harden - one of the least durable pitchers in the game.

The Sox Saturday night had an agreement in principle with the Oakland A's to get Harden for minor league first baseman Lars Anderson and a player to be named later. Harden must first pass a physical before the deal is made official.

Harden has pitched parts of nine seasons in the big leagues, but only four times has he stayed healthy enough to make more than 20 starts.

He underwent surgery for a torn labrum in 2005; for a partially-torn cartilage in his shoulder in 2009; and has had a laundry list of ailments and injuries before and since.

But the Red Sox' reports on him this season were encouraging and there is the matter of his relationship with current Red Sox pitching coach Curt Young, who worked with Harden for some of his best seasons in Oakland.

Earlier this week, Young described Harden as having "Cy Young-quality" stuff when healthy.

The Sox can now start crossing their fingers.

Of course, this isn't a long-term investment. Harden is a free agent after the year, so there's little in the way of investment (he's being paid 1.5 million, meaning the Sox will assume about 500,000 for the rest of the way) or commitment.

They don't care about his track record or his durability issues in the past. What they need is about dozen starts between now and the end of the regular season, and perhaps a handful more in October.

He's doesn't have the ceiling that Jiminez has, but then again, he didn't cost anywhere near what the Colorado pitcher did. Cleveland gave up a total of four players, including two high-end prospects to get Jimenez.

For the Sox, that would have meant a package involving third baseman Will Middlebrooks and pitcher Anthony Ranaudo. That was too high a price to pay.

As for Bedard, he's been every bit as brittle as Harden, wtihout always being as competitive. And Friday's start in Seattle, in which Bedard showed poor command, was cause for concern.

If Clay Buchholz is indeed sidelined for a while, Harden gives the Sox more options in October. If he pitches well and stays healthy, he may be good enough to start Game 3 of the Division Series.

If he doesn't, then the Sox will have given up little more than a player whose path was blocked -- short- and long-term -- by first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

Little ventured, then. Health, irony of irony, will determine how much gained.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam