MLB Trade Deadline: Failed Rich Harden Deal Is Good Luck for Boston Red Sox

Matt SAnalyst IIIJuly 31, 2011

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 28:  Rich Harden #18 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays at Coliseum on July 28, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The deal that would have sent prospect Lars Anderson and a player to be named to Oakland in exchange for Rich Harden fell through hours after it was first set up.  The apparent sticking point, according to Joel Sherman, was Boston's insistence on a contingency clause.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that during their evaluation, the Red Sox discovered potential health issues.  Harden was already dealing with arm and back issues, but uncovering a propensity for future injuries was enough to scare the Sox into demanding protective language in the deal.

The A's balked, and the deal was off.

WEEI reports that the contingency could have included the removal of the PTBNL from the deal, leaving Oakland with only Lars Anderson as compensation for Harden.  One has to wonder why Anderson alone would be viewed as an insufficient return for a DL regular sporting a 4.63 ERA.  The A's should have counted their blessings and cut Harden loose.

Thankfully for the Red Sox, they didn't.

Make no mistake, Boston dodged a bullet here.  Having already made a fairly useless trade for Kansas City's Mike Aviles, the last thing the club needed was to bring on a guy who would almost certainly backfire in the long run.

Harden topped my list of players to avoid not only because of his inability to stay healthy, but because of his lack of effectiveness.

Harden has always had significant upside, and his 2008 season was spectacular.  Oddly, 2008 was also Aviles' best campaign.  Maybe the Sox are hooked on that year for some reason.

But like Aviles, Harden has slipped badly in the nearly three years since, posting ERAs well into the fours and as high as 5.58 in 92 innings in 2010.

He was far too big a risk to take, even if the Sox do have plenty of farmhands to spare.

Sherman later tweeted that, having been foiled in their efforts to acquire Harden and Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda, the Sox may now be content to use Aflredo Aceves as a starter for the rest of the year. Evidently, the team has turned its attention to acquiring relief help.

That should be far easier, and is definitely far less risky.

Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make.  That's certainly true for Harden and the Red Sox.