What to Do with Rich Harden? Chicago Cubs Offseason Headache

David WyattAnalyst IJuly 26, 2009

CHICAGO - APRIL 15: Starting pitcher Rich Harden #40 of the Chicago Cubs delivers the ball against the Colorado Rockies on April 15, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Rockies defeated the Cubs 5-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Well the Chicago Cubs have a big issue to resolve this offseason—that being, should they re-sign Rich Harden to a multi-year deal.

I don't think that it is any secret that on his day, Rich Harden is one of the best pitchers in the Major Leagues. Today for example, he pitched six strong innings, giving up just one hit, walking none, and striking out eight.

However his injury past can not be ignored, he has constantly found himself on the DL with injuries in several areas, including back problems and a oblique strain along with many other ailments.

In the offseason the Cubs will have to make a very tough choice between taking the risk and giving him a multi-year contract that he is surely looking for, and chancing that he can stay healthy.

Although it has to be said for Harden, that since coming to the Cubs, he has never really missed significant time, he missed a little bit of time earlier this season with the back strain, but he has also started 17 games for the Cubs this season, and started 25 between the Cubs and the Athletics last season.

Could it be that his injuries are in the rear view mirror? it seemed to me that earlier this season, he was pitching with some sort of ailment, he never looked comfortable, and that can attribute to his unusually high ERA which was at one point over 5.00. However, back-to-back impressive outings after the all star break have him back on form.

So what I'm really asking, is how much should the Cubs offer? And for how long? Will he get the premium price that a player with his ability should get? If he stays healthy for the rest of the season, I don't see any reason why he shouldn't. If he pitches 25+ games for two straight years then his price will be high.

One thing that we can be thankful for, is that his agent is not Scott Boras, the man who will be inducted into hell's hall of fame as a first ballot plonker.

So how far should we go on a contract offer? I don't think you offer past four years. I think three or four years is a nice contract length for player and club. It shows commitment without really damaging the future of the club like I believe we did by signing Soriano to an eight-year deal.

However it's a little scary to think of his valuel.  We just saw A.J Burnett sign for five-years and $82.5 million, a figure that I believe he isn't close to being worth. Then we see the Yankees sign CC for seven years and $161 million, which is a stupid amount of money, really.

So where does Harden sit? somewhere in between those two, perhaps a four-year, $75 million type contract, is that enough? Zambrano signed a five-year, $91.5 million contract, and some could argue that Harden might be worth similar, but can the Cubs afford a contract like that, with ownership up in the air, we hope that it is completed, but then what?

I want to hear your thoughts on this. Will the Cubs re-sign him, and what will the sum be? I hope we re-sign him, he is a Cy Young type pitcher when he is on form, and his last couple of outings have shown us that he may be getting back to his best form.

When the cards are on the table, are the Cubs willing to pay up?


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