Report: Chicago Cubs More Open To Deal Rich Harden to Twins Off Waivers

Dave SmithCorrespondent IAugust 31, 2009

CHICAGO - JULY 26: Rich Harden #40 of the Chicago Cubs delivers the pitch during the game against the Cincinnati Reds on July 26, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi report in an article that the cubs are more open to moving pitcher Rich Harden. As a Twins fan, I find this exciting and a huge upgrade to what we have right now.

Here's the article:

The Twins are serious about acquiring right-hander Rich Harden from the Chicago Cubs, and the Cubs may be more open to dealing Harden than originally thought, major league sources told FOXSports.com on Saturday. Chicago placed Harden on waivers earlier this week, and Minnesota was awarded the claim. The teams have until Monday to work out a deal. The Cubs could trade Harden and shift their focus to the future, now that they trail the Cardinals by nine games in the National League Central.

According to Baseball Prospectus, the Cubs have a five percent chance of reaching the postseason. Minnesota, meanwhile, has moved into second place in the American League Central, four and a half games back. And the Twins could make up a lot of ground on the division-leading Tigers at the end of the season, as the two teams play seven times over the final two weeks.

Harden, earning $7 million this year, is projected to be a Type A free agent at season's end, according to researcher Eddie Bajek of MLBTradeRumors.com. He would have greater trade value if it was certain that he would be offered salary arbitration after the season—and reject that offer, bringing compensatory draft picks. But that might not be the case in Chicago. Harden could earn as much as $10 million through the arbitration process.

The Cubs might not be comfortable committing that much money to a pitcher who has a history of injuries. And it's not known yet what the Cubs' player payroll will be under the new Ricketts ownership. So, if the Cubs don't expect to re-sign Harden, and have little interest in offering him salary arbitration, it makes sense for them to get what they can in a trade now.

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Based on performance alone, Harden's trade value is at a high point. He is 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break, and his .500 opponents' OPS is the second-lowest among NL starters in that stretch, behind only the Phillies' Cliff Lee. The acquisition of Harden would be viewed favorably within the Twins clubhouse.

Prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, stars Joe Nathan, Justin Morneau, and Joe Mauer said in a Minneapolis Star Tribune story that they were frustrated about the team's failure to make major trades during prior years. Since then, general manager Bill Smith has added shortstop Orlando Cabrera, starter Carl Pavano, and relievers Jon Rauch and Ron Mahay.

Harden could have a bigger impact than any of them, with the possible exception of Cabrera. Minnesota has been looking to add experience to its rotation since losing Kevin Slowey to season-ending wrist surgery, and Harden has participated in three postseasons. (Harden, like Morneau, is from British Columbia.)

The Twins only have three established pitchers in their rotation. Harden is scheduled to make his next start for the Cubs on Monday—the same day the Twins start a crucial home series against the White Sox.

Rich Harden is the best pitching option right now and I would be very satisfied if the twins picked him up. As of now, we have a great chance to. The Cubs aren't planning to keep him, as you see in the article and it seems like the twins are doing there best to get him.

The only concern I have is if he'd be able to go for very long. But when he's out there, he's lights out, and that's a type of pitcher we could use. If the Twins get him, I don't think they'll sign him long-term.

They're main focus is to make a run right now and that's just how they roll. Again, I hope we could get him and I think fans would love to see him to. What are your thoughts?

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