Earlier this evening the Oakland Athletics and Chicago Cubs finalized a deal that is sending Oakland ace, and all-star pitcher, Rich Harden to the Cubs.
The trade is a seemingly perfect response for the Cubs to the Milwaukee Brewers' deal just yesterday. The Brewers, who have been slowly and steadily gaining ground on the NL Central leading Cubs, acquired pitcher CC Sabathia from Cleveland to add to the top of their starting rotation.
In addition to Harden, the Cubs are recieving pitcher Chad Gaudin. Gaudin has put up solid numbers in his career and performed well in Tampa Bay when current Cub manager Lou Pinella was coach there.
Oakland is to receive pitcher Sean Gallagher, outfielder Matt Murton, outfielder Eric Patterson, and minor league catcher Josh Donaldson. Gallagher is a young right-hander with a solid upside, while Murton and Patterson are both players who have split time this season between Chicago and their triple-A affiliate. Donaldson is a decent prospect, but currently only playing in single-A.
At first glance the move appears to be a great help for the Cubs. They will have a very strong pitcher to help their run towards a World Series title and ending their long drought. However, Billy Beane and the A's seem to have an impeccable knack for making trades of this nature.
Former aces Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito have all left Oakland at high points in their careers and have not fared as well in their current locations. The A's seem to always lose superstars, but also seem to always remain a solid team. They are hoping their new additions will fit well into their system of patient hitting and solid pitching.
The only visible downside to Rich Harden is his health. In the last six seasons he has been on the disabled list six times. A trip to the DL in the latter part of this season could be very harmful to the Cubs playoff and/or World Series run.
Only time will tell how this trade will turn out for both teams. For now it looks like the Cubs are putting themselves in great shape and the A's are retooling for next season, but don't be surprised if that changes before the end of the season.