The Cincinnati Reds appear ready to enter 2012 without their closer Francisco Cordero.
On October 31, 2011 Reds GM Walt Jocketty declined the 2012 option on Cordero and told him to check the market.
Is this an indication that the Reds will be counting on highly talented prospect Brad Boxberger to close? Could be, but he is unproven at the major league level.
What does all this have to do with Rich Harden. Well, Harden is a free agent, and most likely can be added without busting the budget. But, Harden is a starter. For most of his career, that is true. However, I believe he is cut out for the role of a closer. Here's four reasons why.
1. Harden currently throws four pitches:
- A mid-90's fastball with movement,
- an extremely deceptive change,
- a split finger that is sharp and produces ground balls, and
- a slider
His top two pitches (fastball & change) are what top closers need.
2. Harden's history shows that he does not go deep into games, averaging less than 6 innings per start. He has never reached the 200 innings plateau and 26 starts is his career high for a season.
3. Scout's like his competitive instincts, and
4. Converting starters to closers is nothing new and has been done successfully several times. Most notably: Dennis Eckersley, John Smoltz, Rick Aguilera, Jose Mesa, etc.
Harden, who will turn 30 on November 30, earned only $1.5 million last season pitching for the Oakland A's. Adding him to Reds would not only provide depth in the rotation, but if allowed to compete for the closer's role, could turn into another success story of starter turned closer.