Well, the Red Sox landed a starting pitcher. It wasn’t Ubaldo Jimenez who was traded to the Cleveland Indians for four prospects including Drew Pomeranz (listed as player to be named later because he can’t officially be traded until August 15th due to amateur draft rules). It wasn’t Hiroki Kuroda who apparently decided not to waive his no trade clause. Instead, ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes reports the Red Sox are very close to acquiring Rich Harden from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for first base prospect Lars Anderson and a player to be named later (PTBNL).
While I’m on record as saying I wasn’t interested in acquiring Harden; if the PTBNL is a C grade prospect or lower, it’s a pretty good deal for the Red Sox. Harden, despite his injury history, he has great stuff and a huge ceiling. His command is spotty at times, but he’s known for racking up the strikeouts; averaging more than a strikeout per inning for his career. As a fly ball pitcher, he tends to give up gopher balls in bunches. That’s something that is unlikely to change as he transitions to Fenway Park and the AL East.
Still, even if Harden flames out and hits the DL two weeks from now, could we even consider it a loss? With Adrian Gonzalez signed through 2018, it’s pretty clear Anderson isn’t in either their short or long-term plans. With Anderson’s value at an all-time low, it’s pretty great they were able to spin him off for something of value. Essentially, the Red Sox traded two non-assets for a high-risk, high-reward pitcher. While the Harden deal isn’t the ideal trade, it’s certainly nothing to shake your fist at.
In 2011, Harden had a 4.62 FIP and a 30/10 K/BB ratio in 29-1/3 innings.