The Harden Deal that Wasn’t

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After an intense few hours of speculation about Ubaldo Jimenez and Rich Harden, the night ended with the some resolution, or so we all thought. Jimenez was traded to the Cleveland Indians, narrowly beating out a proposed Red Sox deal and the oft-injured Rich Harden was heading to the Red Sox for forgotten prospect, Lars Anderson, and a player to be named later. After a solid 2 hours of refreshing twitter and websites galore looking for more information, I turned off my phone and went to bed. When I woke up, I had messages galore about the Rich Harden deal falling through. What a difference an hour makes…

So here is how it went down for all of you that weren’t following this story (the exact timeline is thanks to MLBTR.com):

8:20pm: Jayson Stark of ESPN kicked off the Rich Harden drama with a message on Twitter about the Red Sox closing in on him. The deal was starting to pick up some steam.

8:33pm: Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe jumped into the mix and said the deal could involve Lars Anderson, the Red Sox Triple-A first baseman. Anderson was pulled from the Pawtucket lineup in the 7th inning around the same time the trade rumors swirled, so he appeared to be right.

8:35pm: Jason Stark and Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus confirmed that Anderson and a player to be named later will headed to the Oakland Athletics in the deal.

11:47pm: Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Oakland Athletic’s GM Billy Beane told Harden he’s still scheduled to pitch for the A’s Tuesday. Some eyebrows were raised, especially considering the trade had seemingly gone through a few hours before.

12:05am: Shortly after Beane’s comments, Ian Browne of MLB.com reported that Harden told the Oakland media that there is no deal and that he’s staying with the A’s. Boston sources began to confirm the deal was off.

12:36am: Alex Speier of WEEI chimed in with reports that the Red Sox were not counting on the deal getting done.

1:05am: Finally, on early Sunday morning, Speier confirmed that what killed the deal was uncertainty after a review of Harden’s medicals. It led to some issues and broke the deal apart.

Ok, take a deep breath. After learning the reason the deal fell apart, it comes as no surprise, especially since Harden has had injury issues almost every single season. The deal would have been high risk, but low cost, which is why the Red Sox were happy with it. Lars Anderson is a superfluous piece in the Red Sox system right now, so it seems like that deal would have been perfect for the Red Sox. There must have been some serious issues with the medical report in order to have the deal completely fall apart. Being smart and careful is important when focusing on trades, but everyone and their mother knew Harden’s health was a concern before medicals were exchanged.

Harden has a career 57-35 record with a 3.65 ERA, although he has not pitched in more than 150 innings since 2004, his second year in the league. Harden could have been a nice, cheap piece in the Red Sox rotation, serving as a replacement for Andrew Miller. This season, Harden has just a 2-1 record in 5 starts with a 4.30 ERA and an impressive 9.2 K/per 9 innings rate.

For now, the only deal for the Red Sox has been the Yamaico Navarro for Mike Aviles trade, a simple swap of players with little upside. Red Sox fans know they have a good team, but without a move or two before today’s 4pm deadline, some fans are going to become restless.

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